How to Schedule an Automatic Shutdown of Remote PCs

This article explains how to schedule automatic shutdown using command-line shutdown utilities and Windows Task Scheduler and also using other tools.

Scheduling of remote PCs shutdown operations is an important functionality of any PC power management solution that should be used to manage computers across entire company and organization. Shutdown scheduler guarantees that operations will be executed at right time, as planned. Different power management solutions provide a different level of scheduling functionality - from very basic to advanced. All of them are reviewed in a course of this article.

Schedule Shutdown Using PsShutdown

If you use PsShutdown utility to execute shutdown operation, you can let it run at a specific time with no using any additional tools or services. According to description of PsShutdown command-line options you can use -t parameter in to modes. If you define its value as a plain number, then it will be treated as a countdown time in seconds. But if you specify value in 24 hours notation (as hh:mm), then it will set a shutdown scheduler to execute it at a defined time.

To execute shutdown of the remote PC at 21:00 type a following command in a Windows command-line prompt:

psshutdown \\pc-name -s -f -c -t 21:00

As the result PsShutdown will report a time when operation will be executed (21:00 in this case) and starts PSSDNSVC.EXE service that will initiate operation at the required time.

Schedule Shutdown Using Windows Task Scheduler

Windows Task Scheduler is a powerful tool for automation of various tasks execution. If you open Task Scheduler from the Control Panel you will find a lot of tasks scheduled by a system or applications on your computer. You can add own task and schedule shutdown operation by following few simple steps.

At first you need to create a new task and assign it a name and description to find it among of other tasks. Next you should define a task trigger, i.e. its execution condition. For example, you can select to execute shutdown every day and have to specify a start time. Finally, you need to configure an action, or command that should be executed. You can enter a Windows shutdown or PsShutdown commands with corresponding command-line parameters. When you finish task creation it appears in a task list, so you can modify or delete it there.

Using AT Command

If you prefer to use a command-line, you can control Windows Task Scheduler service with the At utility to add new or delete existing tasks. You have to use same settings to schedule a task with the At command. For example a command below adds a new shutdown task to be executed every day at 21:00. It accepts the entire shutdown command as a parameter:

AT 21:00 /EVERY:m,t,w,th,f,s,su "psshutdown.exe \\pc-name -s -f -c"

Advanced Shutdown Scheduling with Power Management Tools

Professional PC power management tools usually have an advanced shutdown manager with extended set of features. For example, EMCO Remote Shutdown, that is one of the best tools on market, has an Microsoft Outlook-style visual scheduler that allows to schedule multiple tasks for exaction and makes simple to manage them. In particular, for every day you can see a list of tasks, can check their execution results and can reorganize them, if required by dragging tasks on the calendar. Advanced scheduler allows you to use extended scheduling features and create execution exceptions on a particular days for recurrent tasks, for example. You can get an overview of scheduler benefits provided by EMCO Remote Shutdown by watching the video tour.

Freeware Shutdown Utility

PsShutdown is a command-line tool similar to the Windows shutdown utility, but with extended set of features.

Useful Resources
  • Energy Star is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.
  • Climate Savers Computing brings together industry, consumers and conservation organizations to significantly increase the energy efficiency of computers and servers.