Administrative Tools

How to Use Administrative Tools in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, & XP

What Is Administrative Tools?

Administrative Tools is the collective name for several advanced tools in Windows that are used mainly by system administrators.

Administrative Tools is available in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows Server operating systems.

What Is Administrative Tools Used For?

The programs available in Administrative Tools can be used to schedule a test of your computer's memory, manage advanced aspects of users and groups, format hard drives, configure Windows services, change how the operating system starts, and much, much more.

How to Access Administrative Tools

Administrative Tools is a Control Panel applet and so can be accessed via Control Panel.

To open Administrative Tools, first open Control Panel and then tap or click on the Administrative Tools icon.

Tip: If you're having trouble finding the Administrative Tools applet, change the Control Panel view to something other than Home or Category, depending on your version of Windows.

How to Use Administrative Tools

Administrative Tools is basically a folder that contains shortcuts to the various tools that comprise it. Double-clicking or double-tapping on one of the program shortcuts in Administrative Tools will start that tool.

In other words, Administrative Tools itself doesn't do anything. It is just a location that stores shortcuts to related programs that are actually stored in the Windows folder.

Most of the programs available in Administrative Tools are snap-ins for the Microsoft Management Console (MMC).

Administrative Tools

Below is a list of programs you'll find in Administrative Tools, complete with summaries, which versions of Windows they appear in, and links to more details about the programs if I have any.

Note: This list spans two pages so be sure to click through to see them all.

1
Component Services

Component Services

Component Services is an MMC snap-in used to administer and configure COM components, COM+ applications, and more.

Component Services is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows XP.

Component Services does exist in Windows Vista (execute comexp.msc to start it) but for some reason wasn't included within Administrative Tools in that version of Windows.

2
Computer Management

Computer Management

Computer Management is an MMC snap-in used as a central location to manage local or remote computers.

Computer Management includes Task Scheduler, Event Viewer, Local Users and Groups, Device Manager, Disk Management, and more, all in a single location. This makes it really easy to manage all the important aspects of a computer.

Computer Management is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

3
Defragment and Optimize Drives

Defragment and Optimize Drives

Defragment and Optimize Drives opens Microsoft Drive Optimizer, the built-in defragmentation tool in Windows.

Defragment and Optimize Drives is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10 and Windows 8.

Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP all have defragmentation tools included but they are not available via Administrative Tools in those versions of Windows.

Other companies make defrag software that competes with Microsoft's built-in tools. See my Free Defrag Software list for some of the better ones.

4
Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup opens Disk Space Cleanup Manager, a tool used to gain free disk space by removing unnecessary files like setup logs, temporary files, Windows Update caches, and more.

Disk Cleanup is part of Administrative Tools in Windows 10 and Windows 8.

Disk Cleanup is also available in Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP, but the tool is not available via Administrative Tools.

A number of "cleaner" tools are available from companies other than Microsoft that do a lot more than what Disk Cleanup does. CCleaner  is one of my favorites but there are other free PC cleaner tools out there too.

5
Event Viewer

Event Viewer

Event Viewer is an MMC snap-in used to view information about certain actions in Windows, called events.

Event Viewer can sometimes be used to identify a problem that has occurred in Windows, especially when an issue has occurred but no clear error message was received.

Events are stored in event logs. A number of Windows event logs exist, including Application, Security, System, Setup, and Forwarded Events.

Application specific and custom event logs exist in Event Viewer as well, logging events that occur with and are specific to certain programs.

Event Viewer is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

6
iSCSI Initiator

iSCSI Initiator

The iSCSI Initiator link in Administrative Tools starts the iSCSI Initiator Configuration Tool.

This program is used to manage the communication between networked iSCSI storage devices.

Since iSCSI devices are typically found in enterprise or large business environments, you typically only see the iSCSI Initiator tool used with Server versions of Windows.

iSCSI Initiator is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista.

7
Local Security Policy

Local Security Policy

Local Security Policy is an MMC snap-in used to manage Group Policy security settings.

One example of using Local Security Policy would be requiring a minimum password length for user passwords, enforcing a maximum password age, or making sure any new password meets a certain level of complexity.

Pretty much any detailed restriction you can imagine can be set with Local Security Policy.

Local Security Policy is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

8
ODBC Data Sources

ODBC Data Sources

ODBC Data Sources (ODBC) opens ODBC Data Source Administrator, a program used to manage ODBC data sources.

ODBC Data Sources is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10 and Windows 8.

If the version of Windows you're using is 64-bit, you'll see two versions, both an ODBC Data Sources (32-bit) and an ODBC Data Sources (64-bit) link, that are used to manage data sources for both 32-bit and 64-bit applications.

ODBC Data Source Administrator is accessible via Administrative Tools in Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP as well but the link is named Data Sources (ODBC).

9
Memory Diagnostics Tool

Memory Diagnostics Tool

Memory Diagnostics Tool is the name of the shortcut in Administrative Tools in Windows Vista that starts Windows Memory Diagnostic on the next reboot.

The Memory Diagnostics Tool utility tests your computer's memory to identify defects, which may ultimately require you to replace your RAM.

This tool was renamed Windows Memory Diagnostic in later versions of Windows. You can read more about it near the end of the next page.

10
Performance Monitor

Performance Monitor

Performance Monitor is an MMC snap-in that's used to view real time, or previously recorded, computer performance data.

Advanced information about your CPU, RAM, hard drive, and network are just a few of the things you can view via this tool.

Performance Monitor is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

In Windows Vista, the functions available in Performance Monitor are part of Reliability and Performance Monitor, available from Administrative Tools in that version of Windows.

In Windows XP, an older version of this tool, simply called Performance, is included in Administrative Tools.

11
Print Management

Print Management

Print Management is an MMC snap-in used as a central location to manage local and network printer settings, installed printer drivers, current print jobs, and much more.

Basic printer management is still best performed from Devices and Printers (Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista) or Printers and Faxes (Windows XP).

Print Management is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista.

12
Reliability and Performance Monitor

Reliability and Performance Monitor

Reliability and Performance Monitor is a tool used to monitor statistics about system issues and important hardware in your computer.

Reliability and Performance Monitor is part of Administrative Tools in Windows Vista.

In Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7, the "Performance" features of this tool became Performance Monitor, which you can read more about on the last page.

The "Reliability" features were moved out of Administrative Tools and became part of the Action Center applet in Control Panel.

13
Resource Monitor

Resource Monitor

Resource Monitor is a tool used to view details about current CPU, memory, disk, and network activity that individual processes are utilizing.

Resource Monitor is included in Administrative Tools in Windows 10 and Windows 8.

Resource Monitor is also available in Windows 7 and Windows Vista but not via Administrative Tools.

In those older versions of Windows, execute resmon to quickly bring up Resource Monitor.

14
Services

Services

Services is an MMC snap-in used to manage the various Windows services ​existing that help your computer start, and then keep running, as you expect.

The Services tool is most often used to change the startup type for a particular service.

Changing the startup type for a service changes when or how the service is executed. Choices include Automatic (Delayed Start), Automatic, Manual, and Disabled.

Services is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

15
System Configuration

System Configuration

The System Configuration link in Administrative Tools starts System Configuration, a tool used to help troubleshoot some kinds of Windows startup problems.

System Configuration is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista.

In Windows 7, System Configuration can be used to manage the programs that launch when Windows starts up.

The System Configuration tool is included with Windows XP but just not within Administrative Tools. Execute msconfig to start System Configuration in Windows XP.

16
System Information

System Information

The System Information link in Administrative Tools opens the System Information program, a tool that displays incredibly detailed data about the hardware, drivers, and most parts of your computer.

System Information is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10 and Windows 8.

The System Information tool is included with Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP as well but just not within Administrative Tools.

Execute msinfo32 to start System Information in those earlier versions of Windows.

17
Task Scheduler

Task Scheduler

Task Scheduler is an MMC snap-in used to schedule a task or program to run automatically on a specific date and time.

Some non-Windows programs may use Task Scheduler to setup things like a disk cleanup or defrag tool to run automatically.

Task Scheduler is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista.

A task scheduling program, called Scheduled Tasks, is also included in Windows XP but is not part of Administrative Tools.

18
Windows Firewall With Advanced Security

Windows Firewall with Advanced Security

Windows Firewall with Advanced Security is an MMC snap-in used for advanced configuration of the software firewall included with Windows.

Basic firewall management is best performed via the Windows Firewall applet in Control Panel.

Windows Firewall with Advanced Security is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista.

19
Windows Memory Diagnostic

Windows Memory Diagnostic

The Windows Memory Diagnostic link starts a scheduling tool for running Windows Memory Diagnostic during the next computer restart.

Windows Memory Diagnostic tests your computer's memory when Windows is not running, which is why you can only schedule a memory test and not run one immediately from within Windows.

Windows Memory Diagnostic is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7. This tool is also included in Administrative Tools in Windows Vista but is referred to as Memory Diagnostics Tool.

There are other free memory testing applications that you can use besides Microsoft's, which I rank and review in my list of Free Memory Test Programs.

20
Windows PowerShell ISE

Windows PowerShell ISE

Windows PowerShell ISE starts Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE), a graphical host environment for PowerShell.

PowerShell is a powerful command-line utility and scripting language that administrators can use to control various aspects of local and remote Windows systems.

Windows PowerShell ISE is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 8.

Windows PowerShell ISE is also included in Windows 7 and Windows Vista but is not available via Administrative Tools. Those versions of Windows do, however, have a link in Administrative Tools to a PowerShell command line.

21
Windows PowerShell Modules

Windows PowerShell Modules

The Windows PowerShell Modules link starts Windows PowerShell and then automatically executes the ImportSystemModules cmdlet.

Windows PowerShell Modules is included within Administrative Tools in Windows 7.

You'll also see Windows PowerShell Modules as part of Administrative Tools in Windows Vista but only if the optional Windows PowerShell 2.0 is installed.

Windows PowerShell 2.0 can be downloaded for free from Microsoft here as part of the Windows Management Framework Core.