Note: This article was originally written on reich-consulting.net. Reich Web Consulting has narrowed its focus to the web and no longer offers tech support services, so we’ve moved all of our tech support content off-site. We hope you find this article useful. It is provided as-is, and we will no longer provide support on this topic.

There are many instances in managing a network when it becomes neccessary, or at least more convenient, to be able to execute commands on a remote computer without the overhead of launching a full-fledged Remote Desktop session.

Until PowerShell Remoting came along there wasn’t a native way to run remote commands from Windows, and even now PS Remoting isn’t exactly intuitive. That’s where PSEXEC comes in.

PSEXEC is a utility from a developer named Mark Russinovich and his company SysInternals (long since purchased by Microsoft) that allows you to execute commands on a remote system. All you need is File and Print Sharing enabled on the remote system, and of course the appropriate user permissions to execute the command.

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Here’s a quick example. Let’s say I just want to open a command line to another computer:

psexec \\workstation1 cmd

This will give me a command shell (or DOS prompt if you prefer) to the computer workrstation1. But that’s pretty simplistic. Let’s try a more complicated example.

I’ve written a batch file to deploy some software, and it looks a little something like this:

@REM InstallPanda.bat - Installs Panda Cloud Security Client
@ECHO OFF
ECHO Installing Panda Cloud Security Client...
msiexec \\fileserver\Panda\waagent.msi /qn
ECHO Installation completed with error code %ERRORLEVEL%

To run my batch file on a remote computer using PSEXEC, I could use the following command:

psexec \\workstation1 -c InstallPanda.bat

The first argument \\workstation1, is the name of the computer on which the command should be executed. The second argument -c, specifies that the file should be copied to the remote computer and executed from there. Of course the final argument InstallPanda.bat is the command I want to execute.

But wait, there’s more! If I wanted to execute the command on multiple computers at once, I can add the names of those computers to a text file and call:

psexec @computerlist.txt -c InstallPanda.bat

I’ve been using this psexec commands just like this as a poor man’s software deployment too for years. To download PSEXEC and for a full run-down of PSEXEC’s parameters and features, visit the PSEXEC homepage on Microsoft.com.

Purveyor of fine web creations. Former tech support geniuses. Occasional spouter of opinions on topics of politics and ethics.

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