Use command lines to start and stop DevTest Labs virtual machines

This article shows how to start or stop Azure DevTest Labs virtual machines (VMs) by using Azure PowerShell or Azure CLI command lines and scripts.

You can start, stop, or restart DevTest Labs VMs by using the Azure portal. You can also use the portal to configure automatic startup and automatic shutdown schedules and policies for lab VMs.

When you want to script or automate start or stop for lab VMs, use PowerShell or Azure CLI commands. For example, you can use start or stop commands to:

  • Test a three-tier application, where the tiers need to start in a sequence.
  • Turn off VMs to save costs when they meet custom criteria.
  • Start when a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) workflow begins, and stop when it finishes. For an example of this workflow, see Run an image factory from Azure DevOps.


  • A lab VM in DevTest Labs.
  • For Azure PowerShell, the Az module installed on your workstation. Make sure you have the latest version. If necessary, run Update-Module -Name Az to update the module.
  • For Azure CLI, Azure CLI installed on your workstation.

Azure PowerShell script

The following PowerShell script starts or stops a VM in a lab by using Invoke-AzResourceAction. The ResourceId parameter is the fully qualified ID for the lab VM you want to start or stop. The Action parameter determines whether to start or stop the VM, depending on which action you need.

  1. From your workstation, use the PowerShell Connect-AzAccount cmdlet to sign in to your Azure account. If you have multiple Azure subscriptions, uncomment the Set-AzContext line and fill in the <Subscription ID> you want to use.

    # Sign in to your Azure subscription
    $sub = Get-AzSubscription -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
    # Set-AzContext -SubscriptionId "<Subscription ID>"
  2. Provide values for the <lab name> and <VM name>, and enter which action you want for <Start or Stop>.

    $devTestLabName = "<lab name>"
    $vMToStart = "<VM name>"
    # The action on the virtual machine (Start or Stop)
    $vmAction = "<Start or Stop>"
  3. Start or stop the VM, based on the value you passed to $vmAction.

    # Get the lab information
    $devTestLab = Get-AzResource -ResourceType 'Microsoft.DevTestLab/labs' -ResourceName $devTestLabName
    # Start or stop the VM and return a succeeded or failed status
    $returnStatus = Invoke-AzResourceAction `
                        -ResourceId "$($devTestLab.ResourceId)/virtualmachines/$vMToStart" `
                        -Action $vmAction `
    if ($returnStatus.Status -eq 'Succeeded') {
        Write-Output "##[section] Successfully updated DTL machine: $vMToStart, Action: $vmAction"
    else {
        Write-Error "##[error] Failed to update DTL machine: $vMToStart, Action: $vmAction"

Azure CLI script

The following script provides Azure CLI commands for starting or stopping a lab VM. The variables in this script are for a Windows environment. Bash or other environments have slight variations.

  1. Provide appropriate values for <Subscription ID>, <lab name>, <VM name>, and the <Start or Stop> action to take.

    set SUBSCIPTIONID=<Subscription ID>
    set DEVTESTLABNAME=<lab name>
    set VMNAME=<VM name>
    set ACTION=<Start or Stop>
  2. Sign in to your Azure account. If you have multiple Azure subscriptions, uncomment the az account set line to use the subscription ID you provided.

    az login
    REM az account set --subscription %SUBSCIPTIONID%
  3. Get the name of the resource group that contains the lab.

    az resource list --resource-type "Microsoft.DevTestLab/labs" --name %DEVTESTLABNAME% --query "[0].resourceGroup"
  4. Replace <resourceGroup> with the value you got from the previous step.

    set RESOURCEGROUP=<resourceGroup>
  5. Run the command line to start or stop the VM, based on the value you passed to ACTION.

    az lab vm %ACTION% --lab-name %DEVTESTLABNAME% --name %VMNAME% --resource-group %RESOURCEGROUP%

Next steps