Mr. Roboto

Shut Down, Already

Use this script to shut down or reboot a group of computers.

I never tire of scripts and utilities that can shut down or restart Windows systems en masse. They're useful during scheduled maintenance windows, for shutting down client computers for weekends or holidays (think of the power you'll save) or for running on your very last day of work just for fun (just kidding -- I don't condone that in any way).

The Windows Shutdown.exe utility is truly awesome for shutting down and restarting even remote computers. Run Shutdown -i and you'll be working with a nice graphical user interface (see Figure 1) where you can specify multiple computers. Copy and paste names from a text file, for example, and you can reboot an entire Web farm with just a few clicks. If you use it entirely from the command-line, however, you can't give Shutdown.exe a list of computer names or have it grab names from an Active Directory organizational unit (OU). This limits its usefulness in some scenarios.

Enter my custom tool of the month: ShutdownRestart. You can give it a list of computers, specify an action (which must be shutdown, restart, logoff or poweroff) and even have the tool force that action (thus forcing applications to close, if necessary). Run shutdownrestart /list:computers.txt /ping /verbose /action:restart /force, for example, and you'll get the output shown in Figure 2 as the specified computers dutifully reboot themselves.


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Windows Shutdown GUI
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Figure 1. The GUI for Windows Shutdown.exe is solid, but somewhat limited.

That's not all. Instead of /list, you can specify /container, as in /container:Sales, which will target every computer account in your domain's Sales OU (they always forget to shut down for the weekend, don't they?). You can also specify the /log argument, as in /log:C:\failed.txt. This will create a log file named C:\failed.txt, which includes the names of all the computers that the tool was asked to target, but couldn't reach or for which it didn't have sufficient permissions. That creates a list of machines you'll need to deal with manually -- or you can make some adjustments and feed the list back to the tool using the /list argument.

Note that the /action:poweroff option can only work on computers whose motherboards specifically implement a Windows-commanded power-down. Most new systems do this. If your systems don't, Windows will just quit to the "It's now safe to power down your system" screen without actually shutting down.

Output of shutdown script
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Figure 2. The resulting output of this month's shutdown script.

Hopefully this tool will give you some additional control over your environment, and make the next mass-restart or mass-shutdown of a group of computers just a bit easier for you.

About the Author

Don Jones is a multiple-year recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, and is Curriculum Director for IT Pro Content for video training company Pluralsight. Don is also a co-founder and President of, a community dedicated to Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell technology. Don has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, and specializes in the Microsoft business technology platform. He’s the author of more than 50 technology books, an accomplished IT journalist, and a sought-after speaker and instructor at conferences worldwide. Reach Don on Twitter at @concentratedDon, or on Facebook at


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