How to Restart or Shutdown a remote Windows Server

The shutdown utility is a command-based script first introduced with Windows NT but available in all releases of Microsoft Windows. shutdown.exe allows you to remotely reboot a windows servers. Under Windows 2000, the binary shutdown.exe is available on the Microsoft Windows 2000 Resource Kit CD-ROM only.

Using the Windows GUI

To restart or shut down a remote computer and document the reason using the windows interface, use the following steps:


  1. Open a command prompt (remember to Run as Administrator)
  2. Type shutdown /i to display the Remote Shutdown dialog box,
  3. Under Computers, click Add to enter computer names, or click Browse to open the Find Computers dialog box,
  4. Under What do you want these computers to do, click Restart or Shutdown,
  5. Select the appropriate reason for the restart or shutdown from the list.

Using Command-line

To restart or shut down a remote computer and document the reason using the command line

  1. Open Command Prompt.
  2. Type shutdown with the options required (see below for full command syntax), for example:
    shutdown /r /m \\victim /c "scheduled reboot" /t 0
In order to use this feature, the Remote Registry service must be enabled on the remote computer.
When you attempt to restart a remote server remember that the default computername is the localhost, therefore to access a remote server you need to append -m computername.
If you force the computer to shut down or restart, logged in users will not have the opportunity to save their work.

Command syntax

Here is a complete list of options available for the shutdown command:

shutdown [/i | /l | /s | /r | /g | /a | /p | /h | /e] [/f] [/m \\computer][/t xxx][/d [p|u:]xx:yy [/c "comment"]]
  • /i Display the graphical user interface (GUI). This must be the first option.
  • /l Log off. This cannot be used with /m or /d options.
  • /s Shutdown the computer.
  • /r Shutdown and restart the computer.
  • /g Shutdown and restart the computer. After the system is rebooted, restart any registered applications.
  • /a Abort a system shutdown. This can only be used during the time-out period.
  • /p Turn off the local computer with no time-out or warning. Can be used with /d and /f options.
  • /h Hibernate the local computer. Can be used with the /f option.
  • /e Document the reason for an unexpected shutdown of a computer.
  • /m \\computer Specify the target computer.
  • /t xxx Set the time-out period before shutdown to xxx seconds.
    • The valid range is 0-315360000 (10 years), with a default of 30.
    • If the timeout period is greater than 0, the /f parameter is implied.
  • /c "comment" Comment on the reason for the restart or shutdown. Maximum of 512 characters allowed.
  • /f Force running applications to close without forewarning users. The /f parameter is implied when a value greater than 0 is specified for the /t parameter.
  • /d [p|u:]xx:yy Provide the reason for the restart or shutdown:
    • p indicates that the restart or shutdown is planned.
    • u indicates that the reason is user defined. If neither p nor u is specified the restart or shutdown is unplanned.
    • xx is the major reason number (positive integer less than 256).
    • yy is the minor reason number (positive integer less than 65536).