Top 25 Windows PowerShell commands for administrators

Getting started with PowerShell or just need a quick refresher? This tip lists the most common PowerShell commands, with details on when to use them.

Even though Windows PowerShell has been around for a while, administrators who are brushing up on their command...

line skills may be interested in understanding the fundamentals of its capabilities.

Let's take a look at 25 very common tasks you can accomplish with Windows PowerShell. Not only are the tasks themselves common, but the structures of the commands show off the syntax and structure of other PowerShell commands, as well. These basic commands should get you started on the path to becoming a PowerShell master.

Common entries (just to get started)

1. Navigate the Windows Registry like the file system -- cd hkcu:

2. Search recursively for a certain string within files -- dir –r | select string "searchforthis"

3. Find the five processes using the most memory -- ps | sort –p ws | select –last 5

4. Cycle a service (stop, and then restart it) like DHCP -- Restart-Service DHCP

5. List all items within a folder -- Get-ChildItem – Force

6. Recurse over a series of directories or folders -- Get-ChildItem –Force c:\directory –Recurse

7. Remove all files within a directory without being prompted for each -- Remove-Item C:\tobedeleted –Recurse

8. Restart the current computer -- (Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_OperatingSystem -ComputerName .).Win32Shutdown(2)

Collecting information

9. Get information about the make and model of a computer -- Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_ComputerSystem

10. Get information about the BIOS of the current computer -- Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_BIOS -ComputerName .

11. >List installed hotfixes (QFEs, or Windows Update files) -- Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_QuickFixEngineering -ComputerName .

12. Get the username of the person currently logged on to a computer -- Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_ComputerSystem -Property UserName -ComputerName .

13. Find just the names of installed applications on the current computer -- Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_Product -ComputerName . | Format-Wide -Column 1

14. Get IP addresses assigned to the current computer -- Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_NetworkAdapterConfiguration -Filter IPEnabled=TRUE -ComputerName . | Format-Table -Property IPAddress

15. Get a more detailed IP configuration report for the current machine -- Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_NetworkAdapterConfiguration -Filter IPEnabled=TRUE -ComputerName . | Select-Object -Property [a-z]* -ExcludeProperty IPX*,WINS*

16. To find network cards with DHCP enabled on the current computer -- Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_NetworkAdapterConfiguration -Filter "DHCPEnabled=true" -ComputerName .

17. Enable DHCP on all network adapters on the current computer -- Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_NetworkAdapterConfiguration -Filter IPEnabled=true -ComputerName . | ForEach-Object -Process {$_.EnableDHCP()}

Software management

18. Install an MSI package on a remote computer -- (Get-WMIObject -ComputerName TARGETMACHINE -List | Where-Object -FilterScript {$_.Name -eq "Win32_Product"}).Install(\\MACHINEWHEREMSIRESIDES\path\package.msi)

19. Upgrade an installed application with an MSI-based application upgrade package -- (Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_Product -ComputerName . -Filter "Name='name_of_app_to_be_upgraded'").Upgrade(\\MACHINEWHEREMSIRESIDES\path\upgrade_package.msi)

20. Remove an MSI package from the current computer -- (Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_Product -Filter "Name='product_to_remove'" -ComputerName . ).Uninstall()

Machine management

21. Remotely shut down another machine after one minute -- Start-Sleep 60; Restart-Computer –Force –ComputerName TARGETMACHINE

22. Add a printer -- (New-Object -ComObject WScript.Network).AddWindowsPrinterConnection("\\printerserver\hplaser3")

23. Remove a printer -- (New-Object -ComObject WScript.Network).RemovePrinterConnection("\\printerserver\hplaser3 ")

24. Enter into a remote PowerShell session (you must have remote management enabled) -- enter-pssession TARGETMACHINE

25. Run a script on a remote computer -- invoke-command -computername machine1, machine2 -filepath c:\Script\script.ps1

Windows Scripting School

  • Need to bone up on your scripting know-how? It's time to go to school. Check out the archives from Christa Anderson's scripting column.

Jonathan Hassell is an author, consultant and speaker residing in Charlotte, N.C. Jonathan's books include RADIUS, Learning Windows Server 2003, Hardening Windows and most recently Windows Vista: Beyond the Manual.

This was last published in September 2009

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Great article jammed with useful information. Nice to have all the PS commands in once place.

Great and useful information.Excellent ,Thank you.