Computers in the home are obviously very common these days and it’s not unusual to find more than one Windows PC or laptop in a household. Perhaps the parents have the desktop PC and the kids use a laptop or you have desktop machines networked together in your office for work. With the increase in computers at your disposal comes an increase in looking after them when they developed a problem, need tweaking or don’t work as efficiently as they should.
One of the ways to work on another computer without physically being in front of it is of course via networking. Besides the obvious of being able to read and execute files on a remote computer or transferring files between computers, you can also perform more advanced maintenance tasks such as starting or stopping remote processes and even controlling Windows Services to be started, stopped or completely disabled.
Here we’ll show you some ways to view the status of Windows Services on a remote computer in addition to having the ability to start and stop them without leaving your own computer.1. Yet Another (Remote) Process Monitor
This program is getting old now and hasn’t been updated since 2009, but don’t let that fool you because YAPM is one of few tools that can actually let you manage remote services from the comfort of a GUI. We have talked about the program before because of the remote process handling abilities, but it’s equally at home controlling services.
YAPM allows you to view the services and their details on the remote machine, and offers control of starting, stopping or changing the startup type. There are two ways to remotely connect to another computer, either via the WMI interface which is easier, or launching a YAPM server process on the remote machine. The latter has the drawback of needing the YAPM.exe permanently running or being manually launched on the remote machine.
For ease of use we’ll show the WMI option. Run YAPM and click the round Options button near the top left of the window, select “Change connection type” from the menu. This will bring up the connections window shown below, click “Remote via WMI” followed by Disconnect and then enter the remote computer name/IP address along with the remote admin’s username and password. Finally click Connect and then Hide window.
Go back to the main window and select the Services tab, after a few moments you should see all the services on the remote computer (press refresh if not). Now you can get details for and control the remote services as if they’re on your own machine with buttons or context menu options to start, stop, set to autostart, on-demand startup (manual) or disable from starting. A web search option is there if you don’t recognize the service.
2. Application Access Server (A-A-S)
A-A-S is an old tool that actually boasts several powerful features, but sadly it can be tricky to use and the official documentation is of very little help. With the ability to launch Windows applications and enable/disable services remotely over the internet as well as local network, A-A-S has good uses but the major drawback is it needs to be configured and run entirely on the remote computer.
To get up and running quickly you don’t need to configure that much. First run the program, click Configure > User, highlight user admin in the list and click change. Replace the password and optionally the username, click OK twice. Press Start to launch the web server.
Now go to a computer on the network you wish to connect from and open a web browser. Enter the IP of the computer with A-A-S on it in the address bar and append the port number (default is :6262), so it would look something like:
You will then be asked to enter the username and password of the user edited above. The web interface will then show, to view the services on the remote computer click the Services option on the left.
The window will display the services on the remote computer along with their current status. Do note that Stopped also means disabled in addition to not running, for this reason when you press to Start a remote service it might not actually start because it’s startup state is set to Disabled. Manual or Automatic will accept Start/Stop requests, Pause will most likely fail.
A-A-S offers extra security measures such as Silent or Stealth port options, Silent requires a keyword appended to the IP and port while Stealth uses a separate AAS_Login.exe tool. Services can also be started and stopped using command line tools like Net or SC, this can be done in the Application configuration window. Do not enable “Accept registered hosts only” in Security configuration as it seems to block all addresses totally and you won’t be able to remotely access A-A-S.
3. Controlling Remote Services via Command Prompt
Although the Windows Control Panel Services window has an option to connect to a remote computer, it’s not easy to get working because you aren’t given an option to enter a remote user’s credentials, so you ordinarily need to be part of a domain for it to work. The Windows built in SC command also suffers with the same problem because it’s simply a command line based version of the Services MMC snap in.
Thankfully, combining SC with the NET USE command we can connect to the remote computer and then perform service tasks. First bring up an admin Command Prompt (Start > type cmd > Shift+Enter) and then type the following:
Net Use \\computername password /User:username
Then use the SC command to query the status of a service and start/stop or change its startup type. A few examples are:
Query whether the service is running or stopped:
SC \\computername Query servicename
Query the service startup type, path, display name, dependicies etc:
SC \\computername QC servicename
Start or stop a service:
SC \\computername Start|Stop servicename
Change the service startup type:
SC \\computername Config servicename start= Auto|Demand|Disabled
Note: The single space after the “=” is important!
The above screenshot queries the Windows Update Service, starts it and then queries it again to make sure the service has started. More information on how to use the SC command can be found at Microsoft Technet or third party sites like SS64.Com.
The Microsoft owned developer SysInternals also has a set of command line utilities for local and remote administration called PsTools. One of the included tools is PsService and is specifically made to handle remote services. The syntax is:
psservice \\computername -u username -p password command options
The commands are broadly the same as the Windows SC utility such as query, config, start and stop etc. Here’s a few examples for handling the Windows Search Service:
Query the service:
psservice \\computername -u admin -p pass Query wsearch
Query the startup configuration of the service:
psservice \\computername -u admin -p pass Config wsearch
Start or stop the service:
psservice \\computername -u admin -p pass Start|Stop wsearch
Set the startup type of the service:
psservice \\computername -u admin -p pass Setconfig wsearch Auto|Disabled|Demand
The full list of syntax and arguments can be found in the included help document or on the SysInternals website.
Download SysInternals PsTools (includes PsService)
Finding Service Names
Windows has more than one name for each service, the “Service name” and the longer “Display Name”. For example, “Windows Update” is the display name for the Windows Update Service, “Wuauserv” is the service name. The easiest way to use these tools is with the shorter service name, you can find names for services on your own computer if you’re not sure, simply open Task Manager and go to the Services tab, the Name column gives the name you need to use.
Alternatively you can use the Control Panel Services applet (Services.msc), double click the service to find the name near the top. A useful resource for Windows Service information including names is BlackViper.com.