How-to: Remotely shut down your computer

Difficulty: 2

SwitchThink of this scenario; You are lying in bed and just finished watching a movie that you were streaming from a computer downstairs. You want to sleep, but you need to head downstairs to turn the computer off. Save some time, and do it from the computer upstairs.

There are a number of ways that you can restart or shutdown remote computers. You could use a remote desktop connection, but there are quicker ways and we will look at them today.

This article will show you various methods you can use to shutdown or restart computers on your network. We will look at:

  • Command Line/Shortcuts
  • Windows Tools
  • 3rd Party Applications

As well as looking after the environment and your pocket by saving electricity, it is surprisingly easy to achieve. This article is very much aimed at a home user. Most server operating systems have much more powerful tools available.

I have learnt a thing or two researching for this article.

What you need:

All of the methods below require you to have an administrator account on the computer you want to shut down. This was a relief for me as I could see all sorts of ways this could be abused without such security.

All the methods below will require you to have either the IP address or machine name of the computer or computers you want to shutdown remotely.

All of the methods below were created using Windows XP. Vista offers the same commands and a few extras, while Windows 2000 has similar commands. If you use 2000, change the “-“ to a “/”.

Method 1: Command line

Microsoft has included a tool that comes with Windows that will be the focus of most of this article. I always like to use inbuilt utilities when they are available. In this case the command is “shutdown”.

If you open up a command prompt (Start > Run > Cmd) and type “shutdown”, you will see that there are a bundle of arguments you can use with the shutdown command. The -m argument followed by the machine name, and a -r(restart trigger) will shutdown your computer. The best way for me to explain it is through examples.

In the command prompt, try the following:

shutdown -m \\computername -s

Lets break it down:

  1. The shutdown command gets the ball rolling
  2. -m \\computername should be the name of the computer you want to shutdown.
  3. -s tells the remote computer to Shutdown.

There are a number of other arguments you can use.

  1. -r tells the remote computer to Restart
  2. -l tells the remote computer to logoff

So that is all you need to know to do it from the command line. I find it a bit tricky to remember all the switches, so the methods below are more ideal for me.

Method 2: Shortcuts

This method uses the same “shutdown” command as above. The only difference is that we put the command into a shortcut so that we can launch it quickly.

Right click on your desktop
Select “New”
Select “Shortcut”
In the path put in:

shutdown -m \\computername -s

Call it whatever you want and change the icon if you would like. 

Now you have a shortcut that when it is launched will shutdown the remote computer. How easy is that!  

Method 3: Windows Tools

ShutdownThe “shutdown” command we have been looking at above has a graphical front end with a few nice features in it. If you have multiple computers you want to shut down, this may be a good option for you.

To get into it, open a command prompt and type “shutdown -i”

The graphical front-end will open up.

In here, you will see the same options available to you as the manual methods above, but this time you can list or browse multiple computers on your network and do bulk shutdowns or restarts.

It is fairly self explanatory, so I won’t go into it much more. It isn’t all that powerful. Check out another utility below.

This method requires you to put in a reason as to why you are restarting/shutting down. It’s a real pain. 

 

Method 4: External utilities

Rcl

RCL– Remote Computer Log On is a program I came across while scouring through SourceForge. It doesn’t look like much, but it is much more powerful and user friendly than the options above.

RCL was originally designed by a school teacher to control the computers in a computer lab. RCL offers no annoying fonts or popups. It makes up for them in features.

You can login/out, shutdown or restart multiple computers. There is even a feature to enable or disable Internet access.

The computer list uses text files making it easy to list groups of computers; i.e. one file for each lab.

It may be more than you want, but I am definitely going to be using this gem. If only I had it 3 years ago. Download it from SourceForge.

Another program of note is XP remote Timer. It runs much the same as the shutdown command but it offers a timer feature. It might be a good way to control how much time the kids use their computer.

Which method is right for me?

When this article was suggested to me, shortcuts seemed like the most practical way to control 1 or 2 remote computers. As the amount of computers increased, the graphical utilities won out.

Note:

Windows has inbuilt power management features which you might choose to use to shutdown a machine automatically when it is not in use for a certain period of time. This would achieve the same thing, but it removes the control you can have.

Conclusion:

I hope this article has been useful to you and saved you some time and manual labour (walking). Please stick around and check out some other articles at Inspect My Gadget – for lazy people.


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57 Comments so far »
 

  1. Zizikos said, on January 17, 2008 @ 5:34 pm

    This is excellent, but I never shutdown my PCs, I put them on Standby, isn’t there a command for this?

  2. christian said, on January 18, 2008 @ 8:04 am

    I use wizmo http://www.grc.com/wizmo/wizmo.htm to shutdown my computer at a certain time with the task planner. if I want to listen to music while I doze off, there is another neat solution, that doesn’t just kill my iTunes by shutting down the machine. it makes a rather nasty sound on my soundcard if I do that. I looked for a way to stop iTunes before shutting down and I found this: http://www.beyondlogic.org/solutions/processutil/processutil.htm
    a utility that kills processes. so next I wrote a small batch script that is called at a fixed time (task planner), that shuts down iTunes (process killer) and then shuts down my machine (wizmo).

  3. Dereks said, on January 18, 2008 @ 9:16 am

    I’m lying in bed with my laptop right now and I’ve just tried method 1. didn’t work. command line displayed the answer “access denied”. Perhaps this is due to enabled firewall…

  4. Mike said, on January 18, 2008 @ 9:33 am

    I use my PC simply for streaming and backup, the biggest issue I had to deal with is that the laptop I use is a Mac. To get around this, I use WakeOnLAN (http://homepage.mac.com/dtl/readpixel/wakeonlan/), to turn the PC on, and AMP WinOFF (http://www.ampsoft.net/utilities/WinOFF.php) to power down. I’ve configured WinOFF to run at boot on an auto-login Guest account and then shutdown the PC after 2 minutes of less than 2% CPU usage. Very handy, especially because I will usually forget to turn it off otherwise.

  5. Chris Duckworth said, on January 18, 2008 @ 9:41 am

    Dereks, I came across this. You need to make sure you have an admin account on each computer and that you run the shutdown command as an administrator.

  6. Stephen said, on January 18, 2008 @ 1:13 pm

    I have the same problem

    “You need to make sure you have an admin account on each computer and that you run the shutdown command as an administrator.”

    But how do you do that?
    I have an administrator account on my current computer.
    I have a seperate administrator account on the computer I want to shut down.

    How to I login to a remote computer?
    Obviously I know how to login with tools like logmein.com, but how do you do it with just Windows?

  7. PITA said, on January 18, 2008 @ 1:52 pm

    I use a symbian phone with wifi; my pc, laptops are on same network and I wanted to know is there a way to shutdown/hibernate my _windows_ pc remotely.

    I was able to shutdown/restart a *nix pc remotely using PuTTy & was able to ssh to my cell phone. But could not think of any eazy/free method for windows??

  8. Michel said, on January 18, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

    Cool solution. One question remains though. How do I remotely login as admin on the pc to be shutdown before using the command?

  9. jimbob said, on January 18, 2008 @ 11:32 pm

    It is all based on where the ‘shutdown’ command is ran from. If it is from an administrator account you should be fine.

    Maybe it uses password pass-thru? Set both PC’s admin accounts to the same username and password..

  10. Rahul Narula said, on January 20, 2008 @ 4:46 am

    I use a cool small utility program Dshutdown (http://dimio.altervista.org/eng/) for the purpose of shutting down local/remote my computer.
    It can trigger shutdown at various events including internet speed dropped to a level, on completion of an application and man more.
    Worth taking a look.

  11. Chris Duckworth said, on January 20, 2008 @ 9:39 am

    That program looks quite powerful Rahul. It could well do many of the extra bits commenters are asking for. It looks a bit harder to use than the programs in the article, but it can automate the shutdown of remote PC’s. Very useful.

  12. Chris Duckworth said, on January 20, 2008 @ 9:41 am

    You don’t need to be logged in as admin on the remote computer, but you do need an admin account on that computer. The account should be the same as you are using on the local computer.

  13. Mike said, on January 29, 2008 @ 11:07 am

    A critical missing detail is that it will not work if you do not create a matching username/password for the aministrator accounts of each machine involved. Trying to use “no password required” accounts will not work, even if the username is the same on both machines, no password required on both machines and is an administrator on both machines. You must declare a password.

  14. Chris Duckworth said, on January 29, 2008 @ 11:50 am

    Good point Mike. Thanks

  15. Mike said, on February 7, 2008 @ 6:51 am

    Finally figured out the underlying problem. After still not being able to get this to work, despite having the same username/password with admin privileges on both machines, I explored using the PsShutdown of sysinternals ( http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897541.aspx ). That failed too.

    But, I then found a forum post explaining the true underlying cause! Windows XP pro machines, that are not part of a domain, may have to have a security setting reset back to classic mode in order to allow remote connections to connect as the remote user rather than as Guest. To fix this, do the following:

    Administrative Tools-> Local Security Settings-> Local Policies-> Security Options, and
    look for the line “Network Access:Sharing and security model for local accounts”.

    New XP installations, and those with recent security updates, will have a default value of “Guest only – local users authenticate as Guest”.

    Change it back to “Classic – local users authenticate as themselves”.

    Explanation taken from this forum post:
    http://forum.sysinternals.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=3308&PN=2&TPN=2

    Haven’t actually tried it with shutdown yet, but I strongly suspect that it’s the same thing.

  16. Mike said, on February 19, 2008 @ 7:20 am

    I cannot believe this works. Mike (not me) you are a genius. No where does this critical piece of information exist but here.

  17. rakesh kumar singh said, on April 11, 2008 @ 8:09 am

    realy it’s very useful utility to work remotely.

  18. hayden said, on April 14, 2008 @ 4:23 pm

    i canot get it to work it i want to shut down my sisters pc and mess around with her but it says the network path was not found any help thanxs

  19. Chris Duckworth said, on April 18, 2008 @ 9:30 am

    hayden, you could try using IP address instead of the computer name. Shutting down someones computer when they have documents open, can make them lose information. If you are doing it as a practical joke, take a lot of caution. There are a number of practical jokes on this site that may be more fun and less harmful/risky. Go to the practical jokes category on the right.

  20. Joey said, on May 9, 2008 @ 2:14 am

    How can i open a computer romotly

  21. slow learner said, on May 17, 2008 @ 2:54 am

    Thank you all for the contributions .Am still hookup with this.i tried method 1 and 2 but nothing works for me . I keepon receiving thesame error.”Network path was not found” using both username and ip address of the machines

  22. Josh said, on May 23, 2008 @ 4:18 am

    Very awesome. i shutdown computers at my school and its amusing XD

  23. vimal said, on July 19, 2008 @ 11:11 pm

    hi! thank you for give me knowledge.

  24. rexmanthe said, on July 23, 2008 @ 6:33 pm

    Here is how to use Microsoft Outlook to shutdown your computer.

    http://bossmanthe.blogspot.com/2008/04/how-to-shutdown-your-computer-windows.html

    Enjoy!

  25. josh said, on September 30, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

    i tried method 3 with both computer names and ip adresses but it keeps coming up with network adress not found.
    any help?

  26. Chris Duckworth said, on September 30, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

    Josh, try it with your firewall turned off.. Go into control panel and security center.
    Use method 1 to see if things work to try to narrow down the problem. Also, try doing it from both computers. This may tell you if there is something blocking the one computer.

  27. Rob said, on January 15, 2009 @ 4:29 am

    How do you remotely shutdown a computer from the CLI using the shutdown command and an IP address? Suppose your DNS is not running. The \\computer name will not work.

  28. Jimbob said, on January 16, 2009 @ 7:03 am

    Have you tried ‘shutdown /m \\’?? Can’t test this at the moment unfortunately, no access to a working 2nd pc..

  29. Jimbob said, on January 16, 2009 @ 7:05 am

    Uh? My last comment had half of it missing! meant to say ‘shutdown /m \\192.168.1.1 or whatever’

  30. Chris Duckworth said, on January 18, 2009 @ 10:43 am

    Hi Jimbob, Ip addresses as you have shown should work fine. At the end of the day, the computer name and IP address is the same thing. The diference is that computer names are likely to stay the same, whereas IP addresses may change over time.

  31. Josh said, on February 14, 2009 @ 9:03 am

    This may be a tad off topic… but for those using remote desktop, you’ll notice there is no shutdown option on the start menu. You can still use task manager to shutdown, restart and log off. (CTRL, ALT, DELETE)
    Took me awhile to figure out :)

  32. Josh said, on February 14, 2009 @ 11:40 am

    Sorry, ignore that last comment it’s: CTRl, ALT, END for remote task manager.

  33. john said, on February 15, 2009 @ 4:24 pm

    do you need to be admin????

  34. Chris Duckworth said, on February 26, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

    Hi John, I think you need to have an admin account on the machine which you use for this, but the machine does not need to be logged in as the admin user.

  35. Islam said, on April 16, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

    Realy Iam so happy for this help Ty alot :)

  36. chaz said, on April 21, 2009 @ 4:10 am

    Mine says the network path wasn’t found. what the heck? I used the ip adress and everything

  37. Chris Duckworth said, on April 24, 2009 @ 9:29 am

    Hi Chaz, going to need a bit more information. Are you doing it on a LAN? Are you using a local IP? Can you ping the computer you want to shutdown. Is windows firewall turned on. There are lots of things that can cause the problem, but it’s always solvable. Try to give me some more information and I will try to help.

  38. b@TuTs said, on May 29, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

    You can use my Remote Shutdown Tool. It also has network simple enumerator.

    Here the link http://www.onlyinph.com/shutdowntool/

  39. J.J. said, on June 26, 2009 @ 12:58 am

    I have a two computer network, one I use as is (computer A) and the other as not much more than a hard drive (computer B). When I try to shut down computer B from A, I am getting that same network path not found error. I can ping computer B by both ip and by name. So my questions are: (1) is it safe to turn off the firewall on computer B? and (2) how do I find out if I have admin privileges on computer B from computer A?

  40. Chris Duckworth said, on July 1, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

    I can’t recommend turning off a computers firewall. You may be able to open the ports required. There is probably something in the softwares documentation on this. Both computers need to be in the same workgroup. In the User Accounts applet of the control panel, both somputers should have at least 1 account with admin rights. This account on each machine should be the same.

  41. jack said, on July 20, 2009 @ 6:50 pm

    Probably a good idea to learn how to do things through the command line. It helps you understand how things work.

  42. huh said, on August 10, 2009 @ 5:22 am

    I dont get it… IF the guy had a computer upstairs and downstairs, why would he use the computer downstairs for the movie? It would make more sense if he used the one upstairs, thats for sure.

  43. Chris Duckworth said, on August 20, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

    He would download the movie during the day and watch it at night before he goes to sleep? Networking computers is great as it lets us do things between computers insteadof them each being stand alone.

  44. Bernard said, on September 9, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

    Hi.. what if in the command prompt, it says that, access denied.. what do you think is the problem.?!

  45. Chris Duckworth said, on September 9, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

    My guess is that it is to do with different usernames and passwords on the two computers. Either that or a firewall causing you greif. If you can share files between the two computers, that indicates that most of the settings are on the right track.

  46. Pradnya said, on September 13, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

    Cool Knowledge…..You have done very good job…
    Thank you for the awesome knowledge…
    Thanks a lot

  47. Zed said, on December 29, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

    Thanks for the article!
    Found this article some time ago while “googling” how to shutdown my computer remotely.
    Recently i came across small utility called ‘Switch Off’ that allows me to shutdown my PC remotely even from mobile phone. cool :)
    Here is the article how to use it: http://www.airytec.com/en/switch-off/faq/how-to-shutdown-or-restart-pc-remotely-from-any-computer-or-mobile-phone.aspx

  48. Michael said, on January 30, 2010 @ 2:16 am

    Soound great for everyone but I try that for very many times, keeps telling me “Access deinied”. Pliz help me out

  49. ace said, on November 5, 2010 @ 10:08 am

    Zed – do ya have admin rights on both pcs?
    on my end i got 2 pcs both win 7 x86 both are very similar in components just one is about 4 yrs older component wise than the other i cant get the shortcut going but command line is good enough for me =D
    thx man
    oh and u can log into computerB from compterA using an admin account from computerB and i suggest having passwwords on both admin accounts (it helped me) if remote connection is giving you some headache
    ps remember on win 7 u have homegrouips so that takes out some complication of networking gl all

  50. Jake said, on December 3, 2010 @ 6:29 am

    Hi, prefer the cmd prompt but when i do it i just end up with access denied. (5). HELP

  51. John said, on December 16, 2010 @ 8:35 am

    Try this one: wwww.mobilepcmonitor.com

  52. jake said, on March 23, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

    that helped a lot. I did it at school and everyones like “hey! Iwas taking a laptop test!” o”hey who did that?” I pulled it off on three students and the teacher and I didn’t get caught. I used the shortcut method.

  53. jake said, on March 23, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

    and also, you don’t have to do it above. you do the shortcut method until you get to where you type in the box, type in ‘shutdown -s -f -t 10 -c and then a comment. for example, shutdown -s -f -t 10 -c “your computer will shutdown due to a jerk. MWA HA HA!!!”

  54. Jeff said, on June 10, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

    Lying in bed with the laptop. Didn’t want to go upstairs to shut off the Desktop. Used CMD for method 1. It worked. Good night.

  55. Nick said, on June 24, 2011 @ 4:45 am

    If you have a blank password, be sure the “Accounts: Limit local account use of blank passwords to console logon only” local security setting is set to “Disabled”. Also, simple file sharing must be disabled.

  56. Bob said, on September 8, 2011 @ 5:32 am

    I’m use the remote computer manager from http://www.mylanviewer.com for remote shutdown and wakeup.

  57. Joe Mars said, on November 22, 2011 @ 10:05 am

    whenever i try method 3 it says “the network path was not found”. Can anyone tell me how to solve this problem?





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