Executive Summary:
As you narrow down the cause of a Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) issue (high CPU usage is a common one) on a Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, or Windows XP system, it's helpful to know the WMI provider, usually a DLL binary, corresponding to the WMI class that's involved in a CPU spike. Learn how to identify WMI provider DLLs, so that you can use this information to find out what vendor the binary belongs to, whether the problem is a known issue, and whether updates are available to fix the problem.

One of the really frustrating aspects in troubleshooting any Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) issue is trying to determine which binaries are responsible for supporting the hundreds of classes registered in any given system. Each class in WMI has a corresponding WMI provider, which is simply a COM object and usually in the form of a DLL binary. Since WMI providers are COM objects, the main task will be to find the GUID registered for the binary, then search the registry for that GUID.

One typical problem with WMI is high CPU utilization. You may have experienced a high-CPU problem where the WMIPrvse.exe process was spiking the CPU, and you might have even known what WMI query generated all the CPU activity. But how do you find the actual DLL binary responsible for the class being queried? And why is knowing the DLL important? Knowing the name and location of a DLL will provide you information such as which vendor the binary belongs to, which will enable you to find out whether updates are available for the binary and whether the problem you're experiencing is a known issue and has been fixed already. Simply doing an Internet search on "High CPU wmiprvse.exe" might return too many hits, none of which could be your problem. However, if you can include the exact DLL name in your search—for example, "high cpu wmiprvse provider.dll"—the search results are more likely to return more accurate and relevant information. Let's look at how to find the DLL binary for a WMI class by walking through an example.

Enabling Logging to Find the Class Namespace
The first step in finding the DLL of a particular class is to understand which namespace the class resides in. To accomplish this, we must enable logging. Here's how you do it.

For Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP: You can enable verbose logging through the WMI Control called WMIMgmt.msc. Click the control's Logging tab, then click the Verbose radio button. You'll notice entries in the Wbemcore.log file such as the following, indicating which namespace is being queried.

ConnectionLogin:NTLMLogin - wszNetworkResource = root\cimv2

For Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008: The logging mechanism is new in Windows Vista and Server 2008, which now have what are called Analytic and Debug logs. These logs have replaced the previous verbose logging in Windows 2003 and XP. For detailed steps on how to enable the WMI Analytic and Debug logs on Windows Vista and later, see the Windows Management Infrastructure blog post "Is WMIprvse a real villain?" at blogs.msdn.com/wmi/archive/2009/05/27/is-wmiprvse-a-real-villain.aspx.

For testing purposes, I've created a sample WMI class called InstProvSamp. In Figure 1, notice the event that logs the WMI query to the class (select * from InstProvSamp) and the namespace where the class resides (\\root\default).

Finding the Provider DLL
Now that we have the WMI class and namespace, we can start our search for the provider DLL. Every WMI class has a qualifier called provider, which is the name of the provider but not necessarily the binary name. We need to find out what the qualifier name is for our test class (InstprovSamp), and we can use wbemtest.exe to do so.

Run wbemtest.exe, connect to root\default, then click the Open Class button. Enter the class name—in our example, InstProvSamp. Click OK, and now notice that the Object editor opens for this class. As you can see in Figure 2, under the Qualifiers, there is a "provider" string called InstProvSamp. Here, the provider name is the same as the class name, but usually this isn't the case.

Now we need to get the class identifier or CLSID of the provider from the provider name. To do so, you submit a WMI query for the system class called __Win32Provider, which will contain the CLSID or GUID of the provider COM object. Run wbemtest.exe, connect to the target namespace (root\default), click the Query button, and issue the following query:

Select * from __Win32Provider where name="InstProvSamp"

In the query result box, you'll see an entry like the following:

_Win32Provider.Name="InstProvSamp"

Open the Object editor by double-clicking this entry, as Figure 3 shows.

Notice the CLSID entry pointing to the GUID that we need; every COM object places a registration entry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\CLSID. We can use regedit.exe to pinpoint our search directly to the COM registration information and get right to the exact name and location of the WMI provider binary, as Figure 4 shows.

As I mentioned, the provider binary name doesn't always match the class name. For instance, the registry provider is defined under the root\default class, and the __Win32Provider name is RegProv. However, the actual DLL name is STDPROV.DLL and is located under the c:\windows\system32\wbem directory.

More Uses
There are several reasons why you might need to find the binary name for a given WMI class; I only mentioned CPU utilization as one possible scenario. Although your scenario may be different, the steps I've described will work to find the WMI provider binary name and location for every scenario. Good luck, and as usual please feel free to contact me regarding this article or any of my previous articles.