Restart Services instead of Rebooting the Windows Server 2003

Is your reflex to restart services or reboot the server?

Best Practice (Litmus Test)

Professionals: Prefer to restart faulty services

Amateurs:  Always reboot the server – even if there is no need

Restart Services – Avoid Reboots

The good news is that Microsoft has reduced the number of actions thatrequire a reboot from over 150 in NT 4.0 to just 7 in Windows 2003.  The bad news is that rebooting the serveris no longer as effective in curing problems as it was in NT. On occasions where rebooting solves a problem, restarting the individualservicewould work just as well.  Think how much downtime you will save. 

Restart Services (Not Server)

Restarting services is particularly useful when troubleshooting Exchange 2003 or SQL problems.  Rebooting the machine would achieve the same result but would take an age and other services would not be available until the restart is complete.  Stopping and restarting the services is more efficient and also teaches you the dependencies of service.  For example, the Exchange Information Store is dependent on the System Attendant. See more on restart server.

Where do you find the settings?  Administrative tools, Services here is a thumbnail:

Windows 2003 Services tips

Or try a flashy PowerShell script to restart services

Tip configure services Configure services to restart automatically on failure.

7 Main causes of a reboot in Windows Server

  1. Installing Active Directory (Run DCPROMO)
  2. Changing the DNS IP address or domain suffix
  3. Converting from Basic to Dynamic disk
  4. Renaming your Machine
  5. Install RIS
  6. Add or Remove COM Ports
  7. Modifying the Schema

Minor causes of a reboot

  1. Altering the ISA configuration (why are you still using ISA stuff?)
  2. Changing the System Locale (Should have done in during install)
  3. Changing the System Font (Why worry on a server?)
  4. Removing the GSNW (Just leave it?)

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Professionals Use PowerShell to Restart a Service

The service which benefits most from Restart-Service is, "Spooler".  The reason being the printer gives more trouble than any other piece of hardware, and often restarting the Spooler cures the problem.  The inferior, but ruthless method of curing such printer jams is to reboot the computer.  When the the computer is also a fileserver, this technique is undesirable.

Production Script

All you really need is this simple command:

# PowerShell Restart-Service example
Restart-Service "Spooler"

Note 1: You can change "Spooler" to the name of another service.  To list services see PowerShell’s Get-Service

Litmus Tests

Guy’s Litmus test is a concept that you can apply anywhere.  Each test gives you an instant answer to the simple question:-  ‘Are you dealing with a professional, or are they an amateur?   Is this the real deal, or is it a turkey?’   The Litmus Test concept is rather like Best Practice, but it reduces a 27 page report to one sentence. 

Try another of my Litmus tests »

Learn about Windows Configuration

Windows 8 New Features   • Eventlog Litmus Tests   •Windows 8 Install and Boot

System State  •Windows 8 Overview  •Install   • No More Reboot 

DNS DHCP  • RRAS  •Review of SolarWinds Config Generator