by Njål

TeamCity: Executing commands and programs on a remote machine using Powershell

Windows Sysinternals has a range of pretty neat tools. My favorite is PsExec – which lets me execute programs on a remote computer. It’s like Remote Desktop – but with the console. Or you could think of it as a Windows alternative of SSH – if you’re a *NIX guy.

It’s perfect when you need to restart a server where Remote Desktop Services is fubar.


I can execute

psexec \myWebServer cmd.exe

and I am now running a console window on the webserver.

It is also handy when scripting/automating tasks – such as building, deploying and making backups of software projects.

But invoking PsExec from TeamCity isn’t a walk in the park, to say the least. PsExec does some funky things with the standard input/output, and invoking this from Java (which TeamCity is built on) raises all kinds of problems and stability issues.

Luckily – Powershell takes care of business.

The script below stops an IIS 7 ApplicationPool on a remote server.

[string]$HostName = “myWebServer”
[string]$Cmd = C:WindowsSystem32inetsrvappcmd.exe stop apppool MyMainAppPool”
Invoke-WmiMethod –class Win32_process -name Create -ArgumentList ($Cmd) -ComputerName $HostName

Change $HostName and $Cmd in order to run other commands.

  • thorhalvor

    If you set up “PowerShell Remoting” then you can run all commands as if it was your own machine.
    I am not 100% sure if i am correct now. but the code you describe using Invoke-wmimethod is the IIS6-way of doing it. if you have IIS 7 and use powershell remoting then you can grab the Appool using the GET-ITEM command: “$pool = get-item iis:….” and $pool.Stop() $pool.Start(). though, The StopStart will only recycle it, and it will start when it receives its first request. Offcourse you can do this also using PowerShell and WebClient object.

  • Njål

    Aha interesting! Will try Powershell Remoting the next time I need to do something similar.

  • Boris Modylevsky

    This is nice. And seems that it actually works and even returns the exit code. Is there a way to redirect the output from remote program execution?

  • Njål

    Sure thing Boris! You can use > and >> in order to redirect the output. You can probably also use the cmdlet Out-File.

    psexec \myWebServer cmd.exe > outfile.txt
    then type “dir” + enter
    and then type “exit” + enter to exit the the shell

    You should now have a outfile.txt file on your local computer – which displays the files and folders in the c:windowssystem32 folder on your remote server.