Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Killing Windows processes from the command line

26th September 2015

During my days at work, I often hear about the need to restart a server because something has gone awry with it. This makes me wonder if you can kill processes from the command line like you do in Linux and UNIX. A recent need to reset Windows Update on a Windows 10 machine gave me enough reason to answer the question.

Because I already knew the names of the services, I had no need to look at the Services tab in the Task Manager like you otherwise would. Then, it was a matter of opening up a command line session with Administrator privileges and issuing a command like the following (replacing [service name] with the name of the service):

sc queryex [service name]

From the output of the above command, you can find the process identifier, or PID. With that information, you can execute a command like the following in the same command line session (replacing [PID] with the actual numeric value of the PID):

taskkill /f /pid [PID]

After the above, the process no longer exists and the service can be restarted. With any system, you need to find the service that is stuck in order to kill it but that would be the subject of another posting. What I have not got to testing is whether these work in PowerShell since I used them with the legacy command line instead. Along with processes belonging to software applications (think Word, Excel, Firefox, etc.), that may be something else to try should the occasion arise.

Comments:

  • anthonymaw says:

    Whether or not this is successful depends on your permissions and whether the process is launched by Local System or some other high privileged service account.

    • John says:

      That is a good point. My own systems are local so I am OK doing what I have described here. Hopefully, network administrators will have the access that they need to do their work.

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