Mr. Roboto

No Shoes, No Script, No Service

Never miss another e-mail notification again.

People are always asking how to get e-mail notifications sent to them when a service fails. You could invest in any number of server monitoring solutions, but let's see what we can do for a whole lot less.

I've created a Windows Script File that lets you run a VBScript as if it were a command-line utility. You can configure it to send you an e-mail notification when a service fails. The first caveat is that if any key service associated with sending an SMTP message fails, the script won't do you any good.

Download the script -- SendMailAlert.wsf -- from www.jdhitsolutions.com/scripts. Then copy it to every server upon which you plan to use the script. You can run it from a network share, but you might run into security warnings about running scripts from a remote site.

For the sake of discussion, I'll assume a local install to C:\Scripts. Open a command prompt and change to C:\Scripts. Type cscript SendmailAlert.wsf /? and you'll get help. When you execute the script, you'll need to specify:

  • the service name
  • one or more e-mail addresses to which the alert will be sent, separated by commas
  • an e-mail address for the "From" field
  • the name of the SMTP server that will deliver the mail message.

There's a debug feature included with the /trace parameter. When you use this parameter, it opens an IE window to display trace messages.

To configure your server, you'll need to modify the Recovery tab for every service you've deemed mission critical. Open the Services management console, find the service and double-click to open, and then select the Recovery tab. This lets you specify which actions to take when a service fails.

Select which failure instance you want to use and pick "Run a Program" from the drop down list. Enter CSCRIPT.EXE as the program name. For command-line parameters, enter in the script name and your parameters using this format:

path-to-script\SendMailAlert.wsf /svc:ServiceName /to:you@company.com/from:Alert@company.com /mail:mail.company.com

Even though you're configuring a specific server you need to specify the service name. There doesn't seem to be a way to dynamically pull the service name. If the name has spaces, enclose it in quotation marks. You must also define e-mail addresses and the name of your SMTP server. Let's assume you configured the Spooler service on server PRINT02 to use this script. You might have a command-line parameter entry like this:

c:\scripts\SendMailAlert.wsf /svc:Spooler /to:me@company.com /from:MrRoboto@company.com /mail:exch01.company.com

When delivered, the e-mail message will have a subject line like this: "Alert! SPOOLER service on FILE02."

The message body will be: "This message is to inform you that the SPOOLER service has stopped on PRINT02 at approximately 4/8/2007 11:25:26 PM."

You'll have to edit the script if you want to modify the subject line or body. The script only executes when the service fails.

Roboto on Demand

Download Mr. Roboto's server monitoring script at www.jdhitsolutions.com/scripts.

What Windows admin task would you like Mr. Roboto to automate next? Send your suggestions to jhicks@redmondmag.com.

To test this process on a non-production server or at your desktop, configure the Spooler service to use the script and send the alert to yourself. Open Task Manager and kill the Spooler process. You should then receive an e-mail alert.

Now, for the rest of the caveats: First, depending on your network and mail server, you may need to configure it to allow message relaying, especially if you need to send a message to an external address. You can manually execute the script from the command line at any time, as long as you provide all the parameters. Also, the script doesn't restart the service, although it can be rewritten to do so. My assumption was that if a mission-critical service failed, you'd want to assess the situation and start the service manually. Finally, if there's any sort of network connectivity problem between the monitored server and the SMTP server, the e-mail alert will fail. Despite this limitation, I hope you still find this a viable and affordable solution.

About the Author

Jeffery Hicks is a multi-year Microsoft MVP in Windows PowerShell, Microsoft Certified Professional and an IT veteran with almost 25 years of experience, much of it spent as an IT infrastructure consultant specializing in Microsoft server technologies with an emphasis in automation and efficiency. He works today as an independent author, trainer and consultant. Jeff is a regular contributor to a variety on online sites, as well as frequent speaker at technology conferences and user groups. Keep up with Jeff and his projects at http://jdhitsolutions.com/blog.

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