Stop Press: I forgot to mention that you need PowerShell v 2.0 for Restart-Computer.
PowerShell v 2.0’s Restart-Computer is very similar to the operating system’s built-in shutdown /r command. A likely scenario is that you wish to automate the reboot of a local or remote server. With a tiny substitution to the cmdlet’s verb you could change the command so that it simply shutdown the computer.
Topics for PowerShell Restart-Computer
I have conflicting emotions about PowerShell’s Stop-Computer cmdlet. On the one hand I want to use this simple command to encourage people to abandon old commands in favour of PowerShell; on the other hand I am disappointed that stop-Computer, and its sister cmdlet restart-Computer, are not as versatile as shutdown.exe. Just because I rarely use most of the extra switches in old shutdown does not alleviate my irritation that newer PowerShell commands are not both backward compatible and better.
Restart-Computer is handy for situations where you wish to reboot not just one server, but a whole bunch. However, let us begin by investigating which PowerShell cmdlets contain the noun ‘computer’.
get-Command -noun computer
# Results include, restart, stop and add.
Before we create a working example, as with any new PowerShell cmdlet, it’s worth calling for help so that we can check the syntax and examine the parameters for restart-Computer
get-Help restart-Computer -full
Note 1: Because I like to inspect the examples, I rarely use get-Help without appending the -full switch. Two interesting parameters are -force and -credential. It’s also worth highlighting that restart-Computer uses WMI, hence there are possible firewall restrictions on this command.
Note 2: In the case of restart-Computer, I can see many opportunities to add the -confirm switch. Admittedly I reached this conclusion only after I had shot myself in the foot, and downed my local machine instead of the network server I was aiming at.
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For once it’s not easy to test this command on the local computer, unless you add the -confirm switch. As I will explain later, if you specify a network computer with restart-Computer you are probably going to have to disable the firewalls.
restart-Computer -computerName LittleServer
Example of Restart-Computer on Multiple Servers
$Victims ="BigServer, LittleServer, GnomeServer"
restart-Computer -computer $Victims -force
Note 1: This example reboots multiple computers, the names of which are stored in a variable called $Victims. You could extend this idea and employ get-Content to read the names of the servers stored in a text file. Incidentally, I have shortened the parameter -computerName to -computer, in PowerShell you can shorten parameters so long as the truncated word is unique and unambiguous.
Problems with Restart-Computer
- Error Message: The RPC server is unavailable. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x800706BA)
- Cause: Firewall blocking the WMI / RPC command.
- Solution: Turn off the firewall(s), alternatively, try to open just the RPC ports 135 and 445.
Summary of Windows PowerShell Restart-Computer
Restart-Computer is very similar to the old shutdown command which is built-in to generations of Windows operating systems. The advantage of restart-Computer is that it’s simpler than shutdown, yet offers the ability to reboot a list of servers. My reason for featuring it is to give people more reasons for abandoning DOS and at least experimenting with PowerShell cmdlets.
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