How to Remotely Shutdown Computers on Network

This article explains how to remotely shutdown computers on network using Windows shutdown command, PsShutdown tool and third-party network shutdown software.

Having an ability to shutdown computers remotely is helpful not only for network administrators who need to turn off workstations at night to save electric power, for example, but also for home users who have more than one PC in the network and like to manage them remotely. There are a number of ways how you can execute network shutdown command, but all of them have some preconditions.

It's important to remember that you can initiate remote shutdown operation, described in this article, only for Windows PCs available in the local network. To check a list of PCs available in the local network you can open Network (or Network Neighborhood is early Windows) in the Windows Explorer. Also to execute network remote shutdown you should have an administrative access to remote PC. This security limitation prevents unauthorized shutdown of remote computers.

Method One: Using Standard Windows Shutdown Command

Starting from Windows Server 2003 (for server platforms) and Windows XP (for desktop platforms) Windows includes shutdown.exe utility in the standard distribution. This utility can be used to shutdown a local or network PCs. You can use it in a command-line mode by typing shutdown.exe in the Windows command prompt (known as CMD). A set of command-line parameters for shutdown command is described in MSDN article, but at a time of writing this article doesn't describe all parameters available for shutdown.exe that comes with Windows 7. So it makes sense to get a list of command-line parameters for your system by running a following command:

shutdown -?

In order to shutdown a remote PC you can run such command:

shutdown /s /m \\ComputerName

Lets break it down:

  • /s - instructs to make a shutdown
  • /m \\ComputerName - specifies the name of remote PC to shutdown it remotely

Important: As it was mentioned above, shutdown.exe can have different parameters on different Windows versions. But parameters syntax also can be different. For example on XP you have to use '-s' instead of '/s'.

Shutdown command has additional parameters that help to control behavior of shutdown operation. For example, a command below makes remote shutdown of specified PC with 60 seconds timeout during which a message will be displayed on remote PC and then all running applications are forced to close:

shutdown /s /f /m \\ComputerName /t 60 /c "PC will be tuned off in 60 sec"

Method Two: Using Windows Shutdown Utility in UI Mode

If you prefer to use visual interface instead of specifying command-line parameters, you can make network remote shutdown from the visual interface by starting shutdown.exe in a dialog mode. Remote Shutdown Dialog offers less options than available from the command-line, but you can execute all main operations such as remote shutdown and reboot. In order to run shutdown.exe as a dialog, you have to execute following command in the Windows command prompt (Windows Start > click Run > type CMD > enter the command below).

shutdown /i

Method Three: Using External Network Shutdown Tools

If you plan to use shutdown.exe you need to remember that different Windows versions include different implementations of this utility with different features and parameters. While all Windows versions, starting from Windows 2000, allow to remotely shutdown computer on network, they have different set of other features. For example, early implementations of shutdown.exe don't allow to reboot or hibernate PCs. If you need to use advanced shutdown features on different Windows versions, you can use free PsShutdown command-line utility (psshutdown.exe) from SysInternals. It is one of the most feature-reach freeware tools for network shutdown available now.

PsShutdown is a command-line tool that works on local and remote systems. It should be installed on the PC where you will run remote commands. And you don't need to install software on any remote systems against which you want to run the tool. Command-line parameters used by psshutdown.exe is similar to shutdown.exe parameters, but PsShutdown has few important advantages over a standard shutdown utility, listed below.

  • You can use the same set of features on all Windows versions (starting from Windows 2000).
  • You can lock local or remote PC and logoff the current user. Network remote shutdown operation can be aborted by the interactive user.
  • You can specify a list of remote PCs in the file instead of typing them in the command-line.

For example, using the command below you can execute network shutdown tasks on computers, which names are specified in computers.txt file, with 60 seconds timeout during which a message will be displayed on remote PC and user can abort operation.

psshutdown -s -c -t 60 -m "PC will be tuned off in 60 sec"

Method Four: Using Advanced Network Shutdown Software

In large networks using specialized network shutdown software, such as EMCO Remote Shutdown, for example, is the most effective way to perform shutdown operations of multiple PCs. Such commercial software is designed to manage multiple PCs in complex networks, where shutdown.exe and psshutdown.exe can't be used successfully because of performance and configuration limitations. Specialized network shutdown software is optimized to execute multiple remote operations in parallel to reduce an overall operation execution time. It provides visual interface that simplifies remote tasks management. It allows to execute remote shutdown, wake up and other operations manually and automatically on schedule and analyze execution results. These and other features are demonstrated in the video.

Which Network Shutdown Method is Right for Me?

For managing one or few remote PCs using standard shutdown.exe is the best choice. If you need to manage large number of PCs or use advanced shutdown options, you can benefit from features provided by psshutdown.exe. As the amount of computers increased, the specialized software with the graphical interface won out, especially if you need to automate shutdown and wake up tasks.

Freeware Shutdown Utility

PsShutdown is a command-line utility similar to the Windows shutdown utility, but with the ability to do much more.

Useful Resources
  • Energy Star is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.
  • Climate Savers Computing brings together industry, consumers and conservation organizations to significantly increase the energy efficiency of computers and servers.