Managing processes and tasks on a Windows network remotely is a big part of Systems Administration. Some companies and organizations have these great Desktop Management tools and others don’t. Most of those tools though just use functionality that’s built into Windows and make it easier to work with.
Sometimes there are situations where those tools just flat refuse to work on remote machines as well, for whatever reason. Here are a few tools that might help solve that problem.
Two of these are command line, and the other is a GUI tool I found that seems to work pretty well. Personally I’m a big fan of the command line since it is easier to script.
If you’re needing to kill a process remotely check out my related article How To Kill Processes Remotely on a Windows Network.
Using Tasklist to List Processes Remotely
Microsoft has provided a tool called Tasklist since Windows XP or so to list running processes on machines. It’s fairly easy to use and already included with Windows.
Step 1: Open Command Prompt as an administrator. To do this, click your start button, type “cmd” and right click on the “Cmd” or “Command Prompt” icon and click “Run as Administrator. If you’re running Windows XP this is not needed.
Step 2: Type this:
tasklist /s remotecomputername /u domain\user /p password
You’ll get a list of all the running processes. This can help you determine the name of a stuck process, the PID and any of a number of other kids of information.
Note: A full reference for this tool is found here: Taskkill
Using Pstools to List Processes Remotely
I’ve used pstools for a long time. They’re pretty versatile and can be used in batch scripts and task easier than the built-in tools. Hopefully they’ll be supported for a long time to come. I highly recommend downloading them. The one drawback is the “I agree” screen you have to click on the first time you use them.
Step 1: Open Command Prompt as an administrator. To do this, click your start button, type “cmd” and right-click on the “Cmd” or “Command Prompt” icon and click “Run as Administrator. If you’re running Windows XP this is not needed.
Step 2: Type this:
pslist \\remotecomputername -u domain\user -p password
Same as tasklist, you’ll get a readout of all running processes on the remote computer. You get a bit more information too.
Note: A full reference as well as download for this tool is found here: Pstools
GUI Method for Listing Processes Remotely
There are a lot of tools out there in various software suites that will do this. If you’re looking for a standalone tool, one that I found is Remote Process Explorer by Lizard Systems. It covers both listing and killing processes in remote computers.
I don’t use this tool, but I have tested it a bit and it’s pretty solid. I am just providing a GUI method for doing this as I couldn’t find a built-in method for doing this in Windows. Check it out. The software is freeware for non-commercial purposes, and $99 for a commercial license, so it’s pretty fair for everything it does.
Notes: This post assumes you are using at least Windows 7, though most of these tools will run just fine on earlier versions of Windows.