How to Make an Automatic Shutdown of Remote Computers

Every modern Windows PC connected to a local network can be managed remotely. Network administrators can reboot and shut down individual PCs remotely, but they also can manage multiple PCs from the central location. It allows companies and organizations to organize an automatic shutdown of network PCs at nights and on weekends to reduce energy wasting and cut energy costs. There are a number of tools and technologies that can be used for automatic PCs shutdown across organizations, their main features, advantages and limitations are overviewed in this article.

Automatic PCs Shutdown Using Windows Shutdown Command and PsShutdown

Using free command-line utilities allow network administrators to create basic custom solution to shutdown PCs in the local network. It requires to create a command or script that allows to turn off multiple remote PCs and then use Windows functionality to execute it on a regular basis.

Using Windows Shutdown Command

The standard shutdown utility is included into distribution of all Windows versions, starting from Windows XP. If you have an administrative access you can use it to turn off and reboot PC. Shutdown of remote PCs is also supported. Microsoft extends functionality of this utility in almost every new Windows release, so you can get actual information about all supported features and command-line parameters for your version by typing following command in Windows command prompt:

shutdown -?

In order to turn off a remote PC you have to use \m parameter and specify a name of the remote PC with leading double-slash. Other parameters of this command instruct to make a shutdown and force close open applications:

shutdown /s /f /m \\pc-name

Windows automatic shutdown across network requires to turn off multiple PCs at once, but Windows shutdown utility can accept only one PC name as a parameter. In this case you can run a simple BAT file that extracts PC names from a text file and turns off remote PCs one-by-one:

for /f %%i in (pc-list.txt) do (
shutdown /s /f /m \\%%i

Using PsShutdown

If you need more features than offered by Windows shutdown command, you can consider using PsShutdown. It's a free command-line utility that can be used similarly to the standard Windows utility, but has few advantages over it.

PsShutdown allows remote user to cancel initiated operation. It prevents unconditional powering down remote PCs if they are in use and users would like to continue their work. This utility has a special syntax that allows to specify names of multiple PCs in the command-line or refer a file that stores names of remote PCs. As the result you can run only one command to execute operation on multiple PCs. Also PsShutdown allows to specify credentials for administrative access to remote PCs. This feature is important if you need to shutdown remote PCs that have different administrative credentials.

To execute shutdown on PCs which names are listed in file and give remote users an option to cancel operation, use a following command:

psshutdown -s -f -c -t 60 @pc-list.txt

How to Automate Shutdown Operations

Once you created a script or tried a command that allows you to turn off remote PCs across the network you can start thinking how to automate its execution at a required date and time. On Windows you can use visual interface of task scheduler or 'at' command to schedule tasks. You have to specify command with parameters and time execution conditions to run it in automatic mode. You can learn more about this in the article How to Schedule an Automatic Shutdown of Remote PCs.

Automatic PCs Shutdown Using PC Power Management Software

If you prefer to use a professional software for an automatic PC management across organization, you have few options to select a suitable product from EMCO, 1E or Verdiem. Professional PC power management tool allows you not only to turn off remote PCs, but also to turn them on using Wake-on-LAN technology and perform other operations on demand and on schedule. Such products are specially designed to work in large networks, so they guarantee a higher performance and flexibility than custom solutions. Advantages of professional power management software are highlighted in a demonstration of the EMCO Remote Shutdown tool.