Using Windows Management Instrumentation for Diagnostics

Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) exposes inspection data of a service at run time through a WCF Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) provider.

Enabling WMI

WMI is Microsoft's implementation of the Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) standard. For more information about the WMI SDK, see Windows Management Instrumentation. WBEM is an industry standard for how applications expose management instrumentation to external management tools.

A WMI provider is a component that exposes instrumentation at run time through a WBEM-compatible interface. It consists of a set of WMI objects that have attribute/value pairs. Pairs can be of a number of simple types. Management tools can connect to the services through the interface at run time. WCF exposes attributes of services such as addresses, bindings, behaviors, and listeners.

The built-in WMI provider can be activated in the configuration file of the application. This is done through the wmiProviderEnabled attribute of the <diagnostics> in the <system.serviceModel> section, as shown in the following sample configuration.

    <diagnostics wmiProviderEnabled="true" />  

This configuration entry exposes a WMI interface. Management applications can now connect through this interface and access the management instrumentation of the application.

Accessing WMI Data

WMI data can be accessed in many different ways. Microsoft provides WMI APIs for scripts, Visual Basic applications, C++ applications, and the .NET Framework. For more information, see Using WMI.


If you use the .NET Framework provided methods to programmatically access WMI data, you should be aware that such methods may throw exceptions when the connection is established. The connection is not established during the construction of the ManagementObject instance, but on the first request involving actual data exchange. Therefore, you should use a try..catch block to catch the possible exceptions.

You can change the trace and message logging level, as well as message logging options for the System.ServiceModel trace source in WMI. This can be done by accessing the AppDomainInfo instance, which exposes these Boolean properties: LogMessagesAtServiceLevel, LogMessagesAtTransportLevel, LogMalformedMessages, and TraceLevel. Therefore, if you configure a trace listener for message logging, but set these options to false in configuration, you can later change them to true when the application is running. This will effectively enable message logging at run time. Similarly, if you enable message logging in your configuration file, you can disable it at run time using WMI.

You should be aware that if no message logging trace listeners for message logging, or no System.ServiceModel trace listeners for tracing are specified in the configuration file, none of your changes are taken into effect, even though the changes are accepted by WMI. For more information on properly setting up the respective listeners, see Configuring Message Logging and Configuring Tracing. The trace level of all other trace sources specified by configuration is effective when the application starts, and cannot be changed.

WCF exposes a GetOperationCounterInstanceName method for scripting. This method returns a performance counter instance name if you provide it with an operation name. However, it does not validate your input. Therefore, if you provide an incorrect operation name, an incorrect counter name is returned.

The OutgoingChannel property of the Service instance does not count channels opened by a service to connect to another service, if the WCF client to the destination service is not created within the Service method.

Caution WMI only supports a TimeSpan value up to 3 decimal points. For example, if your service sets one of its properties to MaxValue, its value is truncated after 3 decimal points when viewed through WMI.


Because the WCF WMI provider allows the discovery of services in an environment, you should exercise extreme caution for granting access to it. If you relax the default administrator-only access, you may allow less-trusted parties access to sensitive data in your environment. Specifically, if you loosen permissions on remote WMI access, flooding attacks can occur. If a process is flooded by excessive WMI requests, its performance can be degraded.

In addition, if you relax access permissions for the MOF file, less-trusted parties can manipulate the behavior of WMI and alter the objects that are loaded in the WMI schema. For example, fields can be removed such that critical data is concealed from the administrator or that fields that do not populate or cause exceptions are added to the file.

By default, the WCF WMI provider grants "execute method", "provider write", and "enable account" permission for Administrator, and "enable account" permission for ASP.NET, Local Service and Network Service. In particular, on non-Windows Vista platforms, the ASP.NET account has read access to the WMI ServiceModel namespace. If you do not want to grant these privileges to a particular user group, you should either deactivate the WMI provider (it is disabled by default), or disable access for the specific user group.

In addition, when you attempt to enable WMI through configuration, WMI may not be enabled due to insufficient user privilege. However, no event is written to the event log to record this failure.

To modify user privilege levels, use the following steps.

  1. Click Start and then Run and type compmgmt.msc.

  2. Right-click Services and Application/WMI Controls to select Properties.

  3. Select the Security Tab, and navigate to the Root/ServiceModel namespace. Click the Security button.

  4. Select the specific group or user that you want to control access and use the Allow or Deny checkbox to configure permissions.

Granting WCF WMI Registration Permissions to Additional Users

WCF exposes management data to WMI. It does so by hosting an in-process WMI provider, sometimes called a "decoupled provider". For the management data to be exposed, the account that registers this provider must have the appropriate permissions. In Windows, only a small set of privileged accounts can register decoupled providers by default. This is a problem because users commonly want to expose WMI data from a WCF service running under an account that is not in the default set.

To provide this access, an administrator must grant the following permissions to the additional account in the following order:

  1. Permission to access to the WCF WMI Namespace.

  2. Permission to register the WCF Decoupled WMI Provider.

To grant WMI namespace access permission

  1. Run the following PowerShell script.

    write-host ""  
    write-host "Granting Access to root/servicemodel WMI namespace to built in users group"  
    write-host ""  
    # Create the binary representation of the permissions to grant in SDDL  
    $newPermissions = "O:BAG:BAD:P(A;CI;CCDCLCSWRPWPRCWD;;;BA)(A;CI;CC;;;NS)(A;CI;CC;;;LS)(A;CI;CC;;;BU)"  
    $converter = new-object Win32_SecurityDescriptorHelper  
    $binarySD = $converter.SDDLToBinarySD($newPermissions)  
    $convertedPermissions = ,$binarySD.BinarySD  
    # Get the object used to set the permissions  
    $security = gwmi -namespace root/servicemodel -class __SystemSecurity  
    # Get and output the current settings  
    $binarySD = @($null)  
    $result = $security.PsBase.InvokeMethod("GetSD",$binarySD)  
    $outsddl = $converter.BinarySDToSDDL($binarySD[0])  
    write-host "Previous ACL: "$outsddl.SDDL  
    # Change the Access Control List (ACL) using SDDL  
    $result = $security.PsBase.InvokeMethod("SetSD",$convertedPermissions)
    # Get and output the current settings  
    $binarySD = @($null)  
    $result = $security.PsBase.InvokeMethod("GetSD",$binarySD)  
    $outsddl = $converter.BinarySDToSDDL($binarySD[0])  
    write-host "New ACL:      "$outsddl.SDDL  
    write-host ""  

    This PowerShell script uses Security Descriptor Definition Language (SDDL) to grant the Built-In Users group access to the "root/servicemodel" WMI namespace. It specifies the following ACLs:

    • Built-In Administrator (BA) - Already Had Access.

    • Network Service (NS) - Already Had Access.

    • Local System (LS) - Already Had Access.

    • Built-In Users - The group to grant access to.

To grant provider registration access

  1. Run the following PowerShell script.

    write-host ""  
    write-host "Granting WCF provider registration access to built in users group"  
    write-host ""  
    # Set security on ServiceModel provider  
    $provider = get-WmiObject -namespace "root\servicemodel" __Win32Provider  
    write-host "Previous ACL: "$provider.SecurityDescriptor  
    $result = $provider.SecurityDescriptor = "O:BUG:BUD:(A;;0x1;;;BA)(A;;0x1;;;NS)(A;;0x1;;;LS)(A;;0x1;;;BU)"  
    # Commit the changes and display it to the console  
    $result = $provider.Put()  
    write-host "New ACL:      "$provider.SecurityDescriptor  
    write-host ""  

Granting Access to Arbitrary Users or Groups

The example in this section grants WMI Provider registration privileges to all local users. If you want to grant access to a user or group that is not built in, then you must obtain that user or group's Security Identifier (SID). There is no simple way to get the SID for an arbitrary user. One method is to log on as the desired user and then issue the following shell command.

Whoami /user  

For more information, see Well Known SIDs.

Accessing Remote WMI Object Instances

If you need to access WCF WMI instances on a remote machine, you must enable packet privacy on the tools that you use for access. The following section describes how to achieve these using the WMI CIM Studio, Windows Management Instrumentation Tester, as well as .NET SDK 2.0.

WMI CIM Studio

If you've installed WMI Administrative Tools, you can use the WMI CIM Studio to access WMI instances. The tools are in the following folder:

%windir%\Program Files\WMI Tools\

  1. In the Connect to namespace: window, type root\ServiceModel and click OK.

  2. In the WMI CIM Studio Login window, click the Options >> button to expand the window. Select Packet privacy for Authentication level, and click OK.

Windows Management Instrumentation Tester

This tool is installed by Windows. To run it, launch a command console by typing cmd.exe in the Start/Run dialog box and click OK. Then, type wbemtest.exe in the command window. The Windows Management Instrumentation Tester tool is then launched.

  1. Click the Connect button on the top right corner of the window.

  2. In the new window, enter root\ServiceModel for the Namespace field, and select Packet privacy for Authentication level. Click Connect.

Using Managed Code

You can also access remote WMI instances programmatically by using classes provided by the System.Management namespace. The following code sample demonstrates how to do this.

String wcfNamespace = $@"\\{this.serviceMachineName}\Root\ServiceModel");
ConnectionOptions connection = new ConnectionOptions();  
connection.Authentication = AuthenticationLevel.PacketPrivacy;  
ManagementScope scope = new ManagementScope(this.wcfNamespace, connection);