Chapter 8 - PowerShell remoting

PowerShell has many different ways to run commands against remote computers. In the last chapter, you saw how to remotely query WMI using the CIM cmdlets. PowerShell also includes several cmdlets that have a built-in ComputerName parameter.

As shown in the following example, Get-Command can be used with the ParameterName parameter to determine what commands have a ComputerName parameter.

Get-Command -ParameterName ComputerName
CommandType     Name                           Version    Source
-----------     ----                           -------    ------
Cmdlet          Add-Computer             Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Clear-EventLog           Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Connect-PSSession        Microsoft.PowerShell.Core
Cmdlet          Enter-PSSession          Microsoft.PowerShell.Core
Cmdlet          Get-EventLog             Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Get-HotFix               Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Get-Process              Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Get-PSSession            Microsoft.PowerShell.Core
Cmdlet          Get-Service              Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Get-WmiObject            Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Invoke-Command           Microsoft.PowerShell.Core
Cmdlet          Invoke-WmiMethod         Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Limit-EventLog           Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          New-EventLog             Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          New-PSSession            Microsoft.PowerShell.Core
Cmdlet          Receive-Job              Microsoft.PowerShell.Core
Cmdlet          Receive-PSSession        Microsoft.PowerShell.Core
Cmdlet          Register-WmiEvent        Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Remove-Computer          Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Remove-EventLog          Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Remove-PSSession         Microsoft.PowerShell.Core
Cmdlet          Remove-WmiObject         Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Rename-Computer          Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Restart-Computer         Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Send-MailMessage         Microsoft.PowerShell.Utility
Cmdlet          Set-Service              Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Set-WmiInstance          Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Show-EventLog            Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Stop-Computer            Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Test-Connection          Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Cmdlet          Write-EventLog           Microsoft.PowerShell.Management

Commands such as Get-Process and Get-Hotfix have a ComputerName parameter. This isn't the long-term direction that Microsoft is heading for running commands against remote computers. Even if you find a command that has a ComputerName parameter, chances are that you'll need to specify alternate credentials and it won't have a Credential parameter. And if you decided to run PowerShell from an elevated account, a firewall between you and the remote computer can block the request.

To use the PowerShell remoting commands that are demonstrated in this chapter, PowerShell remoting must be enabled on the remote computer. Use the Enable-PSRemoting cmdlet to enable PowerShell remoting.

WinRM has been updated to receive requests.
WinRM service type changed successfully.
WinRM service started.

WinRM has been updated for remote management.
WinRM firewall exception enabled.

One-To-One Remoting

If you want your remote session to be interactive, then one-to-one remoting is what you want. This type of remoting is provided via the Enter-PSSession cmdlet.

In the last chapter, I stored my domain admin credentials in a variable named $Cred. If you haven't already done so, go ahead and store your domain admin credentials in the $Cred variable.

This allows you to enter the credentials once and use them on a per command basis as long as your current PowerShell session is active.

$Cred = Get-Credential

Create a one-to-one PowerShell remoting session to the domain controller named dc01.

Enter-PSSession -ComputerName dc01 -Credential $Cred
[dc01]: PS C:\Users\Administrator\Documents>

Notice that in the previous example that the PowerShell prompt is preceded by [dc01]. This means you're in an interactive PowerShell session to the remote computer named dc01. Any commands you execute run on dc01, not on your local computer. Also, keep in mind that you only have access to the PowerShell commands that exist on the remote computer and not the ones on your local computer. In other words, if you've installed additional modules on your computer, they aren't accessible on the remote computer.

When you're connected to a remote computer via a one-to-one interactive PowerShell remoting session, you're effectively sitting at the remote computer. The objects are normal objects just like the ones you've been working with throughout this entire book.

[dc01]:  Get-Process | Get-Member
   TypeName: System.Diagnostics.Process

Name                       MemberType     Definition
----                       ----------     ----------
Handles                    AliasProperty  Handles = Handlecount
Name                       AliasProperty  Name = ProcessName
NPM                        AliasProperty  NPM = NonpagedSystemMemorySize64
PM                         AliasProperty  PM = PagedMemorySize64
SI                         AliasProperty  SI = SessionId
VM                         AliasProperty  VM = VirtualMemorySize64
WS                         AliasProperty  WS = WorkingSet64
Disposed                   Event          System.EventHandler Disposed(System.Object, ...
ErrorDataReceived          Event          System.Diagnostics.DataReceivedEventHandler ...
Exited                     Event          System.EventHandler Exited(System.Object, Sy...
OutputDataReceived         Event          System.Diagnostics.DataReceivedEventHandler ...
BeginErrorReadLine         Method         void BeginErrorReadLine()
BeginOutputReadLine        Method         void BeginOutputReadLine()
CancelErrorRead            Method         void CancelErrorRead()
CancelOutputRead           Method         void CancelOutputRead()
Close                      Method         void Close()
CloseMainWindow            Method         bool CloseMainWindow()
CreateObjRef               Method         System.Runtime.Remoting.ObjRef CreateObjRef(...
Dispose                    Method         void Dispose(), void IDisposable.Dispose()
Equals                     Method         bool Equals(System.Object obj)
GetHashCode                Method         int GetHashCode()
GetLifetimeService         Method         System.Object GetLifetimeService()
GetType                    Method         type GetType()
InitializeLifetimeService  Method         System.Object InitializeLifetimeService()
Kill                       Method         void Kill()
Refresh                    Method         void Refresh()
Start                      Method         bool Start()
ToString                   Method         string ToString()
WaitForExit                Method         bool WaitForExit(int milliseconds), void Wai...
WaitForInputIdle           Method         bool WaitForInputIdle(int milliseconds), boo...
__NounName                 NoteProperty   string __NounName=Process
BasePriority               Property       int BasePriority {get;}
Container                  Property       System.ComponentModel.IContainer Container {...
EnableRaisingEvents        Property       bool EnableRaisingEvents {get;set;}
ExitCode                   Property       int ExitCode {get;}
ExitTime                   Property       datetime ExitTime {get;}
Handle                     Property       System.IntPtr Handle {get;}
HandleCount                Property       int HandleCount {get;}
HasExited                  Property       bool HasExited {get;}
Id                         Property       int Id {get;}
MachineName                Property       string MachineName {get;}
MainModule                 Property       System.Diagnostics.ProcessModule MainModule ...
MainWindowHandle           Property       System.IntPtr MainWindowHandle {get;}
MainWindowTitle            Property       string MainWindowTitle {get;}
MaxWorkingSet              Property       System.IntPtr MaxWorkingSet {get;set;}
MinWorkingSet              Property       System.IntPtr MinWorkingSet {get;set;}
Modules                    Property       System.Diagnostics.ProcessModuleCollection M...
NonpagedSystemMemorySize   Property       int NonpagedSystemMemorySize {get;}
NonpagedSystemMemorySize64 Property       long NonpagedSystemMemorySize64 {get;}
PagedMemorySize            Property       int PagedMemorySize {get;}
PagedMemorySize64          Property       long PagedMemorySize64 {get;}
PagedSystemMemorySize      Property       int PagedSystemMemorySize {get;}
PagedSystemMemorySize64    Property       long PagedSystemMemorySize64 {get;}
PeakPagedMemorySize        Property       int PeakPagedMemorySize {get;}
PeakPagedMemorySize64      Property       long PeakPagedMemorySize64 {get;}
PeakVirtualMemorySize      Property       int PeakVirtualMemorySize {get;}
PeakVirtualMemorySize64    Property       long PeakVirtualMemorySize64 {get;}
PeakWorkingSet             Property       int PeakWorkingSet {get;}
PeakWorkingSet64           Property       long PeakWorkingSet64 {get;}
PriorityBoostEnabled       Property       bool PriorityBoostEnabled {get;set;}
PriorityClass              Property       System.Diagnostics.ProcessPriorityClass Prio...
PrivateMemorySize          Property       int PrivateMemorySize {get;}
PrivateMemorySize64        Property       long PrivateMemorySize64 {get;}
PrivilegedProcessorTime    Property       timespan PrivilegedProcessorTime {get;}
ProcessName                Property       string ProcessName {get;}
ProcessorAffinity          Property       System.IntPtr ProcessorAffinity {get;set;}
Responding                 Property       bool Responding {get;}
SafeHandle                 Property       Microsoft.Win32.SafeHandles.SafeProcessHandl...
SessionId                  Property       int SessionId {get;}
Site                       Property       System.ComponentModel.ISite Site {get;set;}
StandardError              Property       System.IO.StreamReader StandardError {get;}
StandardInput              Property       System.IO.StreamWriter StandardInput {get;}
StandardOutput             Property       System.IO.StreamReader StandardOutput {get;}
StartInfo                  Property       System.Diagnostics.ProcessStartInfo StartInf...
StartTime                  Property       datetime StartTime {get;}
SynchronizingObject        Property       System.ComponentModel.ISynchronizeInvoke Syn...
Threads                    Property       System.Diagnostics.ProcessThreadCollection T...
TotalProcessorTime         Property       timespan TotalProcessorTime {get;}
UserProcessorTime          Property       timespan UserProcessorTime {get;}
VirtualMemorySize          Property       int VirtualMemorySize {get;}
VirtualMemorySize64        Property       long VirtualMemorySize64 {get;}
WorkingSet                 Property       int WorkingSet {get;}
WorkingSet64               Property       long WorkingSet64 {get;}
PSConfiguration            PropertySet    PSConfiguration {Name, Id, PriorityClass, Fi...
PSResources                PropertySet    PSResources {Name, Id, Handlecount, WorkingS...
Company                    ScriptProperty System.Object Company {get=$this.Mainmodule....
CPU                        ScriptProperty System.Object CPU {get=$this.TotalProcessorT...
Description                ScriptProperty System.Object Description {get=$this.Mainmod...
FileVersion                ScriptProperty System.Object FileVersion {get=$this.Mainmod...
Path                       ScriptProperty System.Object Path {get=$this.Mainmodule.Fil...
Product                    ScriptProperty System.Object Product {get=$this.Mainmodule....
ProductVersion             ScriptProperty System.Object ProductVersion {get=$this.Main...

When you're done working with the remote computer, exit the one-to-one remoting session by using the Exit-PSSession cmdlet.

[dc01]:  Exit-PSSession

One-To-Many Remoting

Sometimes you may need to perform a task interactively on a remote computer. But remoting is much more powerful when performing a task on multiple remote computers at the same time. Use the Invoke-Command cmdlet to run a command against one or more remote computers at the same time.

Invoke-Command -ComputerName dc01, sql02, web01 {Get-Service -Name W32time} -Credential $Cred
Status   Name        DisplayName       PSComputerName
------   ----        -----------       --------------
Running  W32time     Windows Time      web01
Start... W32time     Windows Time      dc01
Running  W32time     Windows Time      sql02

In the previous example, three servers were queried for the status of the Windows Time service. The Get-Service cmdlet was placed inside the script block of Invoke-Command. Get-Service actually runs on the remote computer and the results are returned to your local computer as deserialized objects.

Piping the previous command to Get-Member shows that the results are indeed deserialized objects.

Invoke-Command -ComputerName dc01, sql02, web01 {Get-Service -Name W32time} -Credential $Cred | Get-Member
   TypeName: Deserialized.System.ServiceProcess.ServiceController

Name                MemberType   Definition
----                ----------   ----------
GetType             Method       type GetType()
ToString            Method       string ToString(), string ToString(string format, Sys...
Name                NoteProperty string Name=W32time
PSComputerName      NoteProperty string PSComputerName=sql02
PSShowComputerName  NoteProperty bool PSShowComputerName=True
RequiredServices    NoteProperty Deserialized.System.ServiceProcess.ServiceController[...
RunspaceId          NoteProperty guid RunspaceId=570313c4-ac84-4109-bf67-c6b33236af0a
CanPauseAndContinue Property     System.Boolean {get;set;}
CanShutdown         Property     System.Boolean {get;set;}
CanStop             Property     System.Boolean {get;set;}
Container           Property      {get;set;}
DependentServices   Property     Deserialized.System.ServiceProcess.ServiceController[...
DisplayName         Property     System.String {get;set;}
MachineName         Property     System.String {get;set;}
ServiceHandle       Property     System.String {get;set;}
ServiceName         Property     System.String {get;set;}
ServicesDependedOn  Property     Deserialized.System.ServiceProcess.ServiceController[...
ServiceType         Property     System.String {get;set;}
Site                Property      {get;set;}
StartType           Property     System.String {get;set;}
Status              Property     System.String {get;set;}

Notice that the majority of the methods are missing on deserialized objects. This means they're not live objects; they're inert. You can't start or stop a service using a deserialized object because it's a snapshot of the state of that object the point when the command ran on the remote computer.

That doesn't mean you can't start or stop a service using a method with Invoke-Command though. It just means that the method has to be called in the remote session.

I'll stop the Windows Time service on all three of those remote servers using the Stop() method to prove this point.

Invoke-Command -ComputerName dc01, sql02, web01 {(Get-Service -Name W32time).Stop()} -Credential $Cred
Invoke-Command -ComputerName dc01, sql02, web01 {Get-Service -Name W32time} -Credential $Cred
Status   Name        DisplayName       PSComputerName
------   ----        -----------       --------------
Stopped  W32time     Windows Time      web01
Stopped  W32time     Windows Time      dc01
Stopped  W32time     Windows Time      sql02

As mentioned in a previous chapter, if a cmdlet exists for accomplishing a task, I recommend using it instead of using a method. In the previous scenario, I recommend using the Stop-Service cmdlet instead of the stop method. I chose to use the Stop() method to prove a point since many people are under the misconception that methods can't be called when using PowerShell remoting. They can't be called on the object that's returned because it's deserialized, but they can be called in the remote session itself.

PowerShell Sessions

In the last example in the previous section, I ran two commands using the Invoke-Command cmdlet. That means two separate sessions had to be set up and torn down to run those two commands.

Similar to the CIM sessions discussed in Chapter 7, a PowerShell session to a remote computer can be used to run multiple commands against the remote computer without the overhead of a new session for each individual command.

Create a PowerShell session to each of the three computers we've been working with in this chapter, DC01, SQL02, and WEB01.

$Session = New-PSSession -ComputerName dc01, sql02, web01 -Credential $Cred

Now use the variable named $Session to start the Windows Time service using a method and check the status of the service.

Invoke-Command -Session $Session {(Get-Service -Name W32time).Start()}
Invoke-Command -Session $Session {Get-Service -Name W32time}
Status   Name        DisplayName       PSComputerName
------   ----        -----------       --------------
Running  W32time     Windows Time      web01
Start... W32time     Windows Time      dc01
Running  W32time     Windows Time      sql02

Once the session is created using alternate credentials, it's no longer necessary to specify the credentials each time a command is run.

When you're finished using the sessions, be sure to remove them.

Get-PSSession | Remove-PSSession


In this chapter you've learned about PowerShell remoting, how to run commands in an interactive session with one remote computer, and how to run commands against multiple computers using one-to-many remoting. You've also learned the benefits of using a PowerShell session when running multiple commands against the same remote computer.


  1. How do you enable PowerShell remoting?
  2. What is the PowerShell command for starting an interactive session with a remote computer?
  3. What is a benefit of using a PowerShell remoting session versus just specifying the computer name with each command?
  4. Can a PowerShell remoting session be used with a one-to-one remoting session?
  5. What is the difference in the type of objects that are returned by cmdlets versus those returned when running those same cmdlets against remote computers with Invoke-Command?