Sometimes, it is necessary to shut down multiple machines. For instance, you might want to turn off all the computers of the participants after a class. You can shut down each computer manually or you use a tool. This post discusses two solutions to shut down computers remotely.
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Microsoft offers a free command line tool for this purpose included in the Windows 2000 Resource Kit. The tool also works for Windows XP. You can download it here. There is also a GUI for program but it doesn't allow you to shut down or reboot multiple machines. For this, you have to write a batch file using the command line version. We've been working with it for a while, and it is not 100 % reliable. Sometimes computers simply don't respond to the shut down command.
Recently, I tested ID Shutdown Manager 2.5, a more sophisticated tool. It has a GUI that allows you to shut down and reboot multiple computers with one mouse click. You can send messages to users, execute programs on their machines and get system information of them with this tool. It supports Wake on LAN, too.
ID Shutdown Manager can also be controlled with a web interface, using a web server that supports CGI. The tool has been tested with Apache and Internet Information Server. I didn't try this feature as I am not a fan of using a web browser as an application interface.
There are only two things which I dislike about ID Shutdown Manager. It is not for free and you have to install an agent on all machines you want to control with it. Installing the agents is not a big deal though as you can do this remotely using its GUI.
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Five licenses of ID Shutdown Manager cost $9.99, 50 licenses $74.99. Considering that ID Shutdown Manager includes simple software deployment the price is not too bad in my view.