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Use PSExec to run a command remotely

I was at a customer and we recently set up a new DNS Server.  I asked him to ensure that all servers pointed to the new server.  140 remote servers – estimated 6 days of work to do this manually.

Ever had this experience and just need to get the job done ASAP?  PSExec is a saviour in these cases.

Simply download PSTools from

PSExec is in here, all thanks to Mark Russinovich.  Although PSTools contains a load of tools, I really want to focus on PSExec right now.  This is the one tool I use more than any.

In summary, whatever you can run in the CMD prompt or script, you can do remotely with PSExec.

E.g. Get every machine in the domain to renew it’s IP Address:

psexec \\* ipconfig /renew

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It’s that simple.

Ok, to get all Domain Controllers to restart their netlogon service:

for /F %i in (‘dsquery server -o rdn’) do psexec \\%i net stop netlogon & net start netlogon

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Easy enough?

Ok, change the Primary DNS Server on all Domain Controllers:

for /F %i in (‘dsquery server -o rdn’) do psexec \\%i netsh interface ipv4 set dnsservers static primary

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Perhaps you have a specific list of computers to run a command on.  Add them to a text file (like computers.txt).  Then place the text file in the directory you are running PSExec from and run the following:

PSExec @filename.txt CommandToRun (e.g. shutdown /r)

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One issue I found which is really a pain is when having to use PSExec and run a command which interfaces with remote network resources.  e.g.

psexec \\server15 \\server\share\executable.exe

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This won’t work unless you supply credentials.  Something like this:

psexec -u domain\user -p PasswordHere\\server15 \\server\share\executible.exe

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This includes anything which needs remote network capabilities.  

In summary, anything you need to do more than 3 times is best automated.  PSExec is a great tool for the job and certainly a life saver for me on occasion.

Summary of psexec syntax:

Usage: psexec [\\computer[,computer2[,.. .] | @file][-u user [-p psswd]][-n s][-l][-s|-e][-x][-i [session]][-c [-f|-v]][-w directory][-d][-<priority> ][-a n,n,...] cmd [arguments]

-a          Separate processors on which the application can run with commas where 1 is the lowest numbered CPU. For example, to run the application on CPU 2 and CPU 4, enter: “-a 2,4¿
-c          Copy the specified program to the remote system for execution. If you omit this option the application must be in the system path on the remote system.
-d          Don’t wait for process to terminate (non-interactive).
-e          Does not load the specified account’s profile.
-f           Copy the specified program even if the file already exists on the remote system.
-i           Run the program so that it interacts with the desktop of the specified session on the remote system. If no session is specified the process runs in the console session.
-l           Run process as limited user (strips the Administrators group and allows only privileges assigned to the Users group). On Windows Vista the process runs with Low Integrity.
-n          Specifies timeout in seconds connecting to remote computers.
-p          Specifies optional password for user name. If you omit this you will be prompted to enter a hidden password.
-s          Run the remote process in the System account.
-u          Specifies optional user name for login to remote computer.
-v          Copy the specified file only if it has a higher version number or is newer on than the one on the remote system.
-w         Set the working directory of the process (relative to remote computer).
-x          Display the UI on the Winlogon secure desktop (local system only).

-priority  Specifies -low, -belownormal, -abovenormal, -high or -realtime to run the process at a different priority. Use -background to run at low memory and I/O priority on Vista.
computer Direct PsExec to run the application on the remote computer or computers specified. If you omit the computer name PsExec runs the application on the local system, and if you specify a wildcard (\\*), PsExec runs the command on all computers in the current domain.
@file PsExec will execute the command on each of the computers listed in the file.
program Name of application to execute.
arguments Arguments to pass (note that file paths must be absolute paths on the target system).

You can enclose applications that have spaces in their name with quotation marks e.g. psexec \\marklap “c:\long name app.exe”.
Input is only passed to the remote system when you press the enter key, and typing Ctrl-C terminates the remote process.

If you omit a user name the process will run in the context of your account on the remote system, but will not have access to network resources (because it is impersonating). Specify a valid user name in the Domain\User syntax if the remote process requires access to network resources or to run in a different account. Note that the password is transmitted in clear text to the remote system.

Error codes returned by PsExec are specific to the applications you execute, not PsExec.

Hope this helps


Comments (2)

Be aware that the latest version of Symantec Endpoint Protection flags psexecsvc.exe as an attack and will block it. PSEXEC then gets stuck looping as it installs the service, the service gets deleted, and it lathers, rinses and repeats.
Top Expert 2010

Thanks for the bit about running an exe from a network share.

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