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about_Providers

Updated: August 19, 2009

Applies To: Windows PowerShell 2.0

TOPIC
    about_Providers

SHORT DESCRIPTION
    Describes how Windows PowerShell providers provide access to data and 
    components that would not otherwise be easily accessible at the command
    line. The data is presented in a consistent format that resembles a file
    system drive.


LONG DESCRIPTION
    Windows PowerShell providers are Microsoft .NET Framework-based programs 
    that make the data in a specialized data store available in Windows 
    PowerShell so that you can view and manage it.
 

    The data that a provider exposes appears in a drive, and you access the 
    data in a path like you would on a hard disk drive. You can use any of the
    built-in cmdlets that the provider supports to manage the data in the 
    provider drive. And, you can use custom cmdlets that are designed 
    especially for the data. 


    The providers can also add dynamic parameters to the built-in cmdlets.
    These are parameters that are available only when you use the cmdlet with
    the provider data.


 BUILT-IN PROVIDERS
    Windows PowerShell includes a set of built-in providers that you can use 
    to access the different types of data stores.


    Provider      Drive         Data store
    --------      -----         ----------
    Alias         Alias:        Windows PowerShell aliases
 
    Certificate   Cert:         x509 certificates for digital signatures

    Environment   Env:          Windows environment variables

    FileSystem    *             File system drives, directories, and files

    Function      Function:     Windows PowerShell functions

    Registry      HKLM:, HKCU:  Windows registry

    Variable      Variable:     Windows PowerShell variables

    WSMan         WSMan:        WS-Management configuration information

   * The FileSystem drives vary on each system. 


    You can also create your own Windows PowerShell providers, and you can 
    install providers that others develop. To list the providers that are 
    available in your session, type:

       get-psprovider


 INSTALLING AND REMOVING PROVIDERS
    Windows PowerShell providers are delivered to you in Windows PowerShell
    snap-ins, which are .NET Framework-based programs that are compiled 
    into .dll files. The snap-ins can include providers and cmdlets.


    Before you use the provider features, you have to install the snap-in and
    then add it to your Windows PowerShell session. For more information, see 
    about_PSSnapins.


    You cannot uninstall a provider, although you can remove the Windows
    PowerShell snap-in for the provider from the current session. If you do,
    you will remove all the contents of the snap-in, including its cmdlets.


    To remove a provider from the current session, use the Remove-PSSnapin
    cmdlet. This cmdlet does not uninstall the provider, but it makes
    the provider unavailable in the session.


    You can also use the Remove-PSDrive cmdlet to remove any drive from the
    current session. This data on the drive is not affected, but the drive is
    no longer available in that session.


 VIEWING PROVIDERS
    To view the Windows PowerShell providers on your computer, type:

	get-psprovider


    The output lists the built-in providers and the providers that you added 
    to the session.


 THE PROVIDER CMDLETS
    The following cmdlets are designed to work with the data exposed by
    any provider. You can use the same cmdlets in the same way to manage
    the different types of data that providers expose. After you
    learn to manage the data of one provider, you can use the same
    procedures with the data from any provider.
     

    For example, the New-Item cmdlet creates a new item. In the C: drive that
    is supported by the FileSystem provider, you can use New-Item to create a
    new file or folder. In the drives that are supported by the Registry 
    provider, you can use New-Item to create a new registry key. In the Alias: 
    drive, you can use New-Item to create a new alias.
 

    For detailed information about any of the following cmdlets, type:

        get-help <cmdlet-name> -detailed

	
    CHILDITEM CMDLETS
        Get-ChildItem

    CONTENT CMDLETS
        Add-Content
        Clear-Content
        Get-Content
        Set-Content

    ITEM CMDLETS
        Clear-Item
        Copy-Item
        Get-Item
        Invoke-Item
        Move-Item
        New-Item
        Remove-Item
        Rename-Item
        Set-Item

    ITEMPROPERTY CMDLETS
        Clear-ItemProperty
        Copy-ItemProperty
        Get-ItemProperty
        Move-ItemProperty
        New-ItemProperty
        Remove-ItemProperty
        Rename-ItemProperty
        Set-ItemProperty

    LOCATION CMDLETS
        Get-Location
        Pop-Location
        Push-Location
        Set-Location

    PATH CMDLETS
        Join-Path
        Convert-Path
        Split-Path
        Resolve-Path
        Test-Path

    PSDRIVE CMDLETS
        Get-PSDrive
        New-PSDrive
        Remove-PSDrive

    PSPROVIDER CMDLETS
        Get-PSProvider


 VIEWING PROVIDER DATA
    The primary benefit of a provider is that it exposes its data in a familiar
    and consistent way. The model for data presentation is a file system
    drive.
 

    To use data that the provider exposes, you view it, move through it,
    and change it as though it were data on a hard drive. Therefore, the most
    important information about a provider is the name of the drive
    that it supports.


    The drive is listed in the default display of the Get-PSProvider cmdlet, 
    but you can get information about the provider drive by using the 
    Get-PSDrive cmdlet. For example, to get all the properties of the 
    Function: drive, type:

	get-psdrive Function | format-list *


    You can view and move through the data in a provider drive just as
    you would on a file system drive.
 

    To view the contents of a provider drive, use the Get-Item or Get-ChildItem
    cmdlets. Type the drive name followed by a colon (:). For example, to 
    view the contents of the Alias: drive, type:

        get-item alias:


    You can view and manage the data in any drive from another drive by
    including the drive name in the path. For example, to view the
    HKLM\Software registry key in the HKLM: drive from another drive, type:

        get-childitem hklm:\software


    To open the drive, use the Set-Location cmdlet. Remember the colon
    when you specify the drive path. For example, to change your location
    to the root directory of the Cert: drive, type:

        set-location cert:


    Then, to view the contents of the Cert: drive, type:

	get-childitem


 MOVING THROUGH HIERARCHICAL DATA
    You can move through a provider drive just as you would a hard disk drive. 
    If the data is arranged in a hierarchy of items within items, use a
    backslash (\) to indicate a child item. Use the following format:

	drive:\location\child-location\...


    For example, to change your location to the HKLM\Software registry key, 
    type a Set-Location command, such as:

        set-location hklm:\software


    You can also use relative references to locations. A dot (.) represents the
    current location. For example, if you are in the HKLM:\Software\Microsoft
    registry key, and you want to list the registry subkeys in the 
    HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\PowerShell key, type the following command:

        get-childitem .\powershell 


 FINDING DYNAMIC PARAMETERS
    Dynamic parameters are cmdlet parameters that are added to a cmdlet
    by a provider. These parameters are available only when the cmdlet is
    used with the provider that added them.
 

    For example, the Cert: drive adds the CodeSigningCert parameter
    to the Get-Item and Get-ChildItem cmdlets. You can use this parameter 
    only when you use Get-Item or Get-ChildItem in the Cert: drive.


    For a list of the dynamic parameters that a provider supports, see the
    Help file for the provider. Type:

	get-help <provider-name>


    For example:

	get-help certificate


 LEARNING ABOUT PROVIDERS
    Although all provider data appears in drives, and you use the same methods 
    to move through them, the similarity stops there. The data stores that
    the provider exposes can be as varied as Active Directory locations and
    Microsoft Exchange Server mailboxes.


    For information about individual Windows PowerShell providers, type:

	get-help <ProviderName>


    For example:

	get-help registry


    For a list of Help topics about the providers, type:

	get-help * -category provider    		


SEE ALSO
    about_Locations
    about_Path_Syntax


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