What is a Management Information Format (MIF) File?
By Garth Jones
Whether you are using Configuration Manager 2012, 2007, or SMS there are two different types of Management Information Format (MIF) files (sort of).
The first type of MIF file that I am referring to is defined in the Configuration Manager 2007 docs as the following:
“Management Information Format (MIF) files can be used to extend hardware inventory information collected from clients by the Configuration Manager 2007 hardware inventory client agent. During hardware inventory, the information stored in MIF files is added to the client inventory report and stored in the site database, where you can use the data in the same ways that you use default client inventory data. Two MIF files can be used when performing client hardware inventories: NOIDMIF and IDMIF.”
The second type of MIF file is not generally explained. At least I don’t remember seeing a definition of it listed within any of the docs. It is the inventory file created by a PC when it performs one of the inventory actions such as hardware inventory, software inventory or heartbeat discovery.
The two file meanings are easily confused and extremely similar in basic meaning, structure, etc., but they are different; one is used to extend the inventory information and one is the actual inventory file.
As well, it is the second type of MIF file that is meant most often when people talk about MIF files, particularly when troubleshooting inventory, so this is why I’m telling you this! For example, in this blog post, Troubleshooting Inventory Flow, I’m talking about the second type of MIF file.
When talking about MIF files, determine if you are talking about extending the inventory or the actual inventory itself. If it is the latter then my recommendation is for you to search for the log file name or folder name that contains the MIF file ( i.e. inventoryagenet.log or dataldr.log) in order to troubleshoot the second type of MIF file.
In my opinion, you should never use MIF files to extend your inventory in the first place as there are too many down sides to using them (i.e. network traffic, no control on the data, in CM07 there’s no control on what MIFs are collected, etc.) and very little upside.