WMI Event Subscriptions to Monitor Your Folders

WMI Event Subscriptions to Monitor Your Folders

Have you ever needed a task to launch as soon as a file was dropped into a directory? If so, what was your solution? Did you set up a scheduled task to run every minute to constantly check the folder for new files? That was my solution …

Author: Adam Bertram


Have you ever needed a task to launch as soon as a file was dropped into a directory? If so, what was your solution? Did you set up a scheduled task to run every minute to constantly check the folder for new files? That was my solution for a long time. It didn't work very well because I needed it to see a new file in near real-time. I didn't want to wait as long as 60 seconds for the next scheduled task to fire. I used scheduled tasks until I discovered a better way: permanent WMI event subscriptions.

What is a WMI event subscription?

A WMI event subscription is a method of subscribing to certain WMI events. WMI events are constantly being fired inside the WMI repository, based on a number of various activities. WMI has various classes inside the repository. Some of these classes are called event classes. Event classes do not necessarily contain static data like many other classes. Instead, they simply report on a specific type of activity. For example, in our scenario, I want to know when a file is placed into a folder. To do this, I'd subscribe to the __InstanceCreationEvent event class and use a target instance of the CIM_DataFile class. This would enable me to see all files being moved around the computer.

There are two types of WMI event subscriptions: temporary and permanent. If created with PowerShell, temporary event subscriptions are removed as soon as the PowerShell console is closed. They are nice for testing, but they don't work well for actual production scripts. This is why you'll need to create permanent subscriptions. These subscriptions get stored in the WMI repository and aren't dependent on PowerShell at all. They still work when the PowerShell console is closed or the PC is rebooted. For this reason, we'll concentrate on permanent event subscriptions in this article.

A WMI event subscription consists of three parts: the filter, the consumer, and the binding. Let's look at these parts in detail.

The filter

The WMI filter is a WQL query represented by the __EventFilter WMI class. This piece of the subscription is used to narrow down what's being returned by the event class. I've already mentioned the CIM_DataFile class. If I were to subscribe to this class, I'd get all instances of all files being moved around the computer. I only want to monitor a single folder, so I would apply a filter that only looks for files being added to that folder. The filter is also where you specify the frequency of polling. Unlike scheduled tasks, polling can be specified down to the second!

The consumer

The next piece of a subscription is the consumer. The consumer instructs the subscription on what to do when an event is caught. In our example, the consumer is called the ActiveScriptEventConsumer object. This is the object that is created, which specifies the script that will execute when the event we're looking for fires.

The binding

Finally, we need the binding. This is another object that essentially binds the consumer and the filter together. It is represented by the __FilterToConsumerBindingClass WMI class. The binding is a necessary piece in the overall subscription. It essentially enables the consumer to execute our script.

I've created a PowerShell module called FileMonitor that enables you to easily create a permanent WMI event consumer that monitors for file creation. FileMonitor has three functions: New-FileMonitor, Remove-FileMonitor, and Get-FileMonitor. Using these functions, you can create and manipulate your various WMI subscriptions without having to worry about all the obscure code required to manage them.

For example, let's say I want to monitor the folder C:\MyFolder every 10 seconds for any files. If a file shows up, I want this recorded into the log file C:\MyLogFile.log. To do this, I will create a PowerShell script that will add this information into C:\MyLogFile.log when a file is dropped into the C:\MyFolder folder.

The FileMonitor module only creates and manages the permanent event consumer. Therefore, it's up to you to create a couple of scripts with the actions you want taken after a file goes into the MyFolder folder. First, you'll want to create a VBScript script in the root of the C: directory called callps1.vbs. Unfortunately, it's not possible to call a PowerShell script directly from an event consumer, so we're forced to use an old-school VBScript script as a relay to a PowerShell script.

I have this in my C:\callps1.vbs script.

Set objShell = CreateObject("Wscript.shell")

objShell.run("powershell.exe -WindowStyle Hidden -executionpolicy bypass -file ""C:\callfromvbs.ps1""")

I'm simply using this VBScript script to launch the PowerShell script C:\callfromvbs.ps1. Next, create the callfromvbs.ps1 script and add a single line.

Add-Content -Path 'C:\MyLogFile.log' -Value 'A file was found in the C:\MyFolder folder.'

This dead-simple script simply adds a line into the C:\MyLogFile.log file with the text "A file was found in the C:\MyFolder folder."

Now that we've got the VBScript relay script and the PowerShell script that we'd like to run, it's just a matter of creating the permanent WMI event consumer with the New-FileMonitor cmdlet!

New-FileMonitor -Name 'MyMonitor' -MonitorInterval 10 -FolderPath 'C:\MyFolder' -ScriptFilePath C:\callps1.vbs

Run this, and if you want to make sure it was created, run Get-FileMonitor shortly afterward. You should now see the file monitor that you just created. This means you've successfully created your first permanent WMI event consumer to monitor files! Test it out by placing any file in the C:\MyFolder folder. Notice how the C:\MyLogFile.log file is created and contains a single line.

Permanent WMI event consumers can do so much more than just monitoring for files. I challenge you to get acquainted with WMI event consumers and see what else you can come up with.


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About the author

Adam Bertram is an independent consultant, technical writer, trainer and presenter. Adam specializes in consulting and evangelizing all things IT automation mainly focused around Windows PowerShell. Adam is a Microsoft Windows PowerShell MVP, 2015 powershell.org PowerShell hero and has numerous Microsoft IT pro certifications. He is a writer, trainer and presenter and authors IT pro course content for Pluralsight. He is also a regular contributor to numerous print and online publications and presents at various user groups and conferences.

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