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Knowing the right tool to the right job is something that can save you hours of extra work and tedium. In this article, I will compile a list of useful System Center Configuration Manager tools for troubleshooting and automate your SCCM infrastructure. If these tools are not released by Microsoft, then it means they are developed by the community. For any assistance, you must send a request to developers. All the tools listed below have been tested on SCCM 1610 version and they are free!
If you need more information about SCCM installation, please visit the following article: https://www.starwindsoftware.com/blog/installing-system-center-configuration-manager-1610-current-branch-on-windows-server-2016-with-sql-server-2016-part1
Here is one of my favorite SCCM tool and probably the most useful I have ever seen! Client Center Configuration Manager has been developed by Roger Zander (Microsoft MVP). You can download the tool from the CodePlex website: https://sccmclictr.codeplex.com
The tool is designed to troubleshoot SCCM Client related issues. This tool provides a quick and easy overview of:
Once the installation is done, enter the IP Address or the DNS name of the machine you want to monitor and click “connect”. If the connection failed, please check the requirements:
The “Software Distribution” section displays information about Applications, Software and Service Window.
The next section gathers information about installed software and Windows updates.
One cool feature in this section is to install pending updates. Sometimes, you may have some pending windows updates that you can remotely force the installation.
To finish, the “Monitoring” section allows you to monitor Windows Services, Processes, and Logs on the client machine.
CMTrace.exe is a life saver! CMTrace reads log files in real time. It was designed to look at Configuration Manager log files. You don’t need to open a log file and re-open it after something has made a change because CMTrace will refresh content in real time.
You don’t need to download it from Microsoft website because it is included in the actual installation of Configuration Manager. You can find CMTrace.exe on the Primary Site server, located into <Configuration Manager install folder>\Tools, and also included in the Boot Images.
Of course, you can use CMTrace as your default log viewer. If you like using it, I advise you to copy it to all your computers so you have it everywhere where you might need it!
Firstly, navigate to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Configuration Manager\tools\ and open CMTrace.exe.
Next, you must choose if you want to make it as your default viewer for reading log files or not.
Now when you will open any log files, CMTrace will display the content. By default, SCCM log files are located under C:\Program Files\Microsoft Configuration Manager\Logs. Below, I opened the CMUpdate.log:
CMTrace Highlight is one of the most useful features. The goal is to highlight anything you want. Here, I want to highlight anything written about “Successfully”. To do that, go to “Tools” menu and select “Highlight”:
Another useful feature is the “Error Lookup” tool. You just need to enter an error code into the tool and CMTrace will display a brief description of what the code means. To use the error lookup, go to “Tools” and select “Error Lookup”. Enter your error code and click “Lookup”:
Now, if you need to examine multiple log files, you can use CMTrace to display the files together. You click open and select the log files. Note that you also can select the box “Merge selected files”. In this case, CMTrace will merge them together for a complete view.
System Center Configuration Manager Support Center Tool helps you to gather information about SCCM clients so that you can more easily address issues. First, you need to download “cmsupportcenter.msi” from the Microsoft Download Center https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42645. After the download completes, double-click “cmsupportcenter.msi” to run the setup wizard. Follow the instructions in the setup wizard to install Configuration Manager Support Center.
When you will launch the Configuration Manager Support Center Tool, you will need to choose if you want to query the local machine or a remote machine. That’s really cool and useful because you don’t need to install this tool on a remote machine.
Now you will see the “Data Collection” tab. Select one or more tasks and then click on Collect Selected Data. Support Center will collect the data for enabled tasks. Of course, the SCCM client must be installed on the machine!
Once the data collection is done, all the data are stored in a .zip file. You can use the next tab called “Client” to get the information about the SCCM client:
Next, the “Policy” tab will display the policies that are applicable to the configuration manager client.
The “Content” and “Inventory” tabs will load the inventory data for that client (application, package, hardware inventory, …). The “Troubleshooting” tab will run some troubleshooting tasks. If there is an error status, then you can open the associated log file from the tool:
Let’s finish by the “Logs” tab which is something like a CMTrace. You can open the log files and use filters to display the entries from the log file.
Support Center is a must have for troubleshooting SCCM client.
This toolkit contains fifteen downloadable tools to help you manage and troubleshoot Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. A toolkit is a group of 15 tools that extend SCCM capabilities by providing features for troubleshooting, monitoring, security, and management. You can download it from this URL: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50012
Don’t be afraid if you see “System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager Toolkit”, it works like a charm on SCCM CB 1610 version!
Once the toolkit is installed, you can open the Windows Start menu and confirm that the installation was successful.
Go to the following folder: C:\Program Files (x86)\ConfigMgr 2012 Toolkit R2 and you will notice two folders:
It means that some tools are focused on client side or server side. The toolkit includes the following tools:
The last but not the least: Windows PowerShell. Microsoft has introduced native Windows PowerShell support with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1. It means that you can use PowerShell cmdlets to manage your SCCM environment. Let’s start by launching the Configuration Manager console. In the upper left corner, choose “Connect via Windows PowerShell”.
The first option will open the PowerShell console and the second option will open the PowerShell ISE editor. Note that you also can directly open the PowerShell console and then load manually the SCCM PowerShell module with the following command lines:
There are many cmdlets at your disposal (more than 700 cmdlets). Below are some examples:
Gather information about the distribution point Server
Getting information about some packages
You can easily create SCCM device collection with the New-CMDeviceCollection cmdlet. We need to define update schedule with the New-CMSchedule cmdlet and then define the device collection to be created:
I can check the new collection from the SCCM console
Windows PowerShell is very useful to automate your daily tasks. All the SCCM cmdlets are listed and described with examples on TechNet: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj821831(v=sc.20).aspx
Now you can easily manage your SCCM environment with these 5 tools. Please note that many other tools exist but there are my basics and on top of that they are all free!
I did not mention the SCCM Right Click Tools because it’s now a commercial version that you can find here. The SCCM Right-Click Tool is a popular extension of Configuration Manager console. It is used to allow administrators to interact with their SCCM clients in real time (Get the processes, SCCM cache content, log files, …)
Thanks for reading!
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Microsoft, Software by Nicolas Prigent
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