Killing Windows processes from the command line

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.

Sorting a stalled Windows Update service

Following a recent family death, I have ended up with the laptop belonging to the deceased and, since it has been offline most of its life, I set to getting it updated. The McAfee security suite was straightforward enough but trying Windows Update produced errors suggesting that it was not working that a system restart was needed. Doing that did nothing so a little further investigation was needed.

The solution turned out to be stopping the Windows Update service and clearing a certain folder before starting it again. To stop the service, I typed in services.msc into the search box on the Start Menu and clicked on the Services entry that appeared. Then I sought out the Windows Update entry, selected it and clicked on the Stop link on the left hand side. After that, I used Windows Explorer to navigate C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution and deleted everything in there. The, I went back to the Services window and started Windows Update again. That sorted the problem and the system began to be updated as needed.

All of this was on Windows 7, hence the mention of the Start Menu, and the machine is Toshiba Satellite C660 from 2011 with an AMD E-300 APU, 4 GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive. Those specs may not be the most impressive but it feels spritely enough and is far better than the lethargic Toshiba Equium A200-1VO that I acquired in 2008 though the HP Pavilion dm4 that I bought in November 2011 probably will travel more often than either of these, if truth be told. After all, it now has 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB Samsung SSHD along with its Core i3 CPU so it should last a while yet.