Prof. Powershell

Prof. Powershell: Provider Peek

PSDrives work like real drives, only differently. Here's how to work with these PSProviders in PowerShell.

You're probably familiar with PSDrives in PowerShell. These "drives" usually present hierarchical systems, like the registry, as any other drive that you can navigate using common commands like DIR:

PS C:\> dir hklm:\system\currentcon 

The element that makes this possible is referred to as a PSProvider. PSProviders are bundled with PowerShell snap-ins and installed by default when you load the snap-in. When you run the Get-PSDrive cmdlet, you'll see all mapped PSDrives.

Notice the Provider column? What are these things? To answer that question, we'll use a cmdlet called Get-PSProvider:

PS C:\> get-psprovider

This cmdlet will show all currently loaded PSProviders. If you have a snap-in installed but not currently loaded into your PowerShell session, you won't see any PSProviders included in that snap-in until you load it. Or you can look at the details for a specific provider:

PS C:\> get-psprovider registry | select *
ImplementingType : Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.RegistryProvider
HelpFile : System.Management.Automation.dll-Help.xml
Name : Registry
PSSnapIn : Microsoft.PowerShell.Core
Description :
Capabilities : ShouldProcess
Home :
Drives : {HKLM, HKCU}

The most important information that Get-PSProvider supplies is the provider's capabilities. As you work with cmdlets like Get-ChildItem, you'll notice that they may behave differently based on the PSDrive. For example, you can use the -filter parameter when searching a local drive, but not when searching the registry; you'll get an error message that filtering isn't supported. If you look at the capabilities of the Registry PSProvider, you'll notice that Filter is not included. It's up to the provider developer to decide what capabilities to include.

As you're exposed to new PowerShell snap-ins and even PowerShell 2.0, you'll see additional PSProviders with some very snazzy capabilities. But remember that even though a PSProvider offers a particular capability, it's up to the cmdlets you use to take advantage of them.

About the Author

Jeffery Hicks is an IT veteran with over 25 years of experience, much of it spent as an IT infrastructure consultant specializing in Microsoft server technologies with an emphasis in automation and efficiency. He is a multi-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP Award in Windows PowerShell. He works today as an independent author, trainer and consultant. Jeff has written for numerous online sites and print publications, is a contributing editor at, and a frequent speaker at technology conferences and user groups.


  • What Money in Excel Means for the Future of Microsoft 365 Apps

    Microsoft's new personal finance tool hints at what's in store for next-generation Office applications, from more third-party integrations to subscription requirements.

  • Microsoft Buys Orions Systems To Enhance Vision AI Capabilities in Dynamics 365

    Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it has acquired Orions Systems with the aim of enhancing Dynamics 365 capabilities, as well as the Microsoft Power Platform.

  • Microsoft Hires Movial To Build Android OS for Microsoft Devices

    Microsoft has hired the Romanian operations of software engineering and design services company Movial to develop an Android-based operating system solution for the Microsoft Devices business segment.

  • Microsoft Ending Workflows for SharePoint 2010 Online Next Month

    Microsoft on Monday gave notice that it will be ending support this year for the "workflows" component of SharePoint 2010 Online, as well as deprecating that component for SharePoint 2013 Online.

comments powered by Disqus

Office 365 Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.