There are many different ways to reboot a Windows Server.  When you spend as much time working on systems remotely as I do, you want to have as many tools/options available as possible when you are working on a server in Virginia (I live and work in Central Texas) and it doesn’t reboot normally.  Instead of panicking, you can try one of these**:

1. Try using remote desktop to access the server.  If you can log in to it, you can reboot it.

2. Connect to the server using computer management from another server/workstation.  From another machine, right click on My Computer and go to ‘Manage’.  When the computer management console comes up, right-click on the top of the hierarchy, which says “Computer Management (Local)”, and choose ‘Connect to another computer…’.  Type in the name of the server you are trying to reboot.  After this, you should be able to right-click on Computer Management and go to properties.  From within this dialog box, you can reboot the server.

3. Use the built-in shutdown.exe program which is included in Windows XP/Vista/7 and Windows Server 2003/2008.  To access it, just run ‘shutdown /I’ from the command line and you will be presented with a window that looks like this:

From here, you can add the server you are trying to reboot, set the options, and then execute it by clicking Ok.

4. Use PsExec; this is a utility created by Sysinternals, an awesome, awesome company that created many very useful tools.  (check them out here).  In this case PsExec is useful because it can be used to execute commands on other systems over the network, such as ‘shutdown’.

5. Use Remote Task Manager.  This has saved my skin on several occasions.  The trial is fully functional, but a single license is only $40, which is not bad.  It copies a file to a remote system, starts a service, and then lets you manage the server, including forcing a shutdown/reboot.

6. Use iisreset.  I was not aware of this until recently,  but yes, it is possible.  I found this one on John Pollard’s blog. (this will only work if the destination server has IIS installed)

iisreset [computerName] /reboot

7. Use a network-enabled power distribution unit (PDU).  These can be very handy devices.  Essentially a power strip with a web interface, these will let you power off and on specific ports on the power strip.  If you have good documentation, you can power a server off and on again.  Not ideal, because this is like using the power button, but better than having to face a potentially long drive to a client office.  They can be had for as little as $300 (maybe less), but I would recommend a slightly higher-end device, especially if you are going to have critical servers plugged into it.

8. Use management software, such as Microsoft SCOM, or other managed services software such as Kaseya.  Tools like these always have some way to initiate remote commands.  In the case of Kaseya, a software agent resides on each server/workstation.  If that agent is still able to check in with the management server, you can use it to run a shutdown/reboot command.

9. Server management cards, such as DRAC (dell) and iLo (HP), will allow you to access the BIOS via web or telnet and reboot the server if the OS is hung.  Of course, you have to have set this up beforehand, or it will do you no good.

10. Network KVMs.  These will allow you to access the server console over then network from a web browser and (usually) a Java applet.

Leave any additional methods you have found in the comments and I will add them to this list.  Thanks!

**keep in mind that some of the more ‘abrupt’ methods listed here can cause data loss if someone has a file open or the server is writing to disk.  These methods should only be used as a last resort or if you KNOW you’ve got a good backup!

Posted via email from Aaron Johnstone

2 Replies to “Various ways to reboot a Windows Server remotely”

  1. Great list. I forgot that there were that many tools. The out of band tools like the PDU and DRAC/iDRAC/io devices are also great for telling you if something else is wrong (temperature, fan speeds, voltage issues) plus they are really the only way to make this really platform independent. Sometimes, even ESX fails and it is good to have a way to kill it when you can’t get it to respond. network KVM’s while often painfully slow, can help as well.

    Quick note about IISReset, you obviously have to have IIS installed. Since most MS technologies rely on it in some way, it is not a stretch to assume it is there. Also, any time you kill processes quickly, you risk data loss, so before you pull the plug, do everything you can to verify your backup.

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