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Time for a bit more useless background information, although, in this case, it s the answer to a question that a lot of students often ask me: why would Microsoft provide both Export-CSV and ConvertTo-CSV, as well as two nearly identical cmdlets for XML In certain advanced scenarios, you might not want to save the data to a file on disk. For example, you might want to convert data to XML and then transmit it to a web service, or some other destination. By having distinct ConvertTo- cmdlets that don t save to a file, you have the flexibility of doing whatever you want.
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Using cmdlets to kill processes and stop services
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Using cmdlets to kill processes and stop services
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Exporting and converting aren t the only reasons you might want to connect two commands together. For example, consider but please do not run this command:
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Get-Process | Stop-Process
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Can you imagine what that command would do I ll tell you: crash your computer. It would retrieve every process and then start trying to end each one of them. It would get to a critical process, like the Local Security Authority, and your computer would probably crash with the famous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). If you re running PowerShell inside of a virtual machine and want to have a little fun, go ahead and try running that command. The point is that cmdlets with the same noun (in this case, Process) can often pass information between each other. Typically, you would specify the name of a specific process rather than trying to stop them all:
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Get-Process -name Notepad | Stop-Process
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Services offer something similar: the output from Get-Service can be piped to cmdlets like Stop-Service, Start-Service, Set-Service, and so forth. As you might expect, there are some specific rules about which commands can connect to each other. For example, if you look at a command sequence like Get-ADUser | New-SQLDatabase, you would probably not expect it to do anything sensible (although it might well do something nonsensical). In chapter 7, we ll dive into the rules that govern how commands can connect to each other. There is one more thing I d like you to know about cmdlets like Stop-Service and Stop-Process. These cmdlets modify the system in some fashion, and all cmdlets that modify the system have an internally defined impact level. This impact level is set by the cmdlet s creator, and it can t be changed. The shell has a corresponding $ConfirmPreference setting, which is set to High by default. You can see your shell s setting by typing the setting name, like this:
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PS C:\> $confirmpreference High
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Here s how it works: When a cmdlet s internal impact level is equal to or higher than the shell s $ConfirmPreference setting, the shell will automatically ask, Are you sure when the cmdlet does whatever it s trying to do. In fact, if you tried the crashyour-computer command, earlier, you probably were asked, Are you sure for each process. When a cmdlet s internal impact level is less than the shell s $ConfirmPreference, you don t automatically get the Are you sure prompt. You can, however, force the shell to ask you if you re sure:
Get-Service | Stop-Service -confirm
Just add the -confirm parameter to the cmdlet. This should be supported by any cmdlet that makes some kind of change to the system, and it ll show up in the help file for the cmdlet if it s supported.
The pipeline: connecting commands
A similar parameter is -whatif. This is supported by any cmdlet that supports -confirm. The -whatif parameter isn t triggered by default, but you can specify it whenever you want to:
PS C:\> get-process What if: Performing ". What if: Performing ". What if: Performing ". What if: Performing | stop-process -whatif operation "Stop-Process" on Target "conhost (1920) operation "Stop-Process" on Target "conhost (1960) operation "Stop-Process" on Target "conhost (2460) operation "Stop-Process" on Target "csrss (316)".
It tells you what the cmdlet would have done, without actually letting the cmdlet do it. It s a useful way to preview what a potentially dangerous cmdlet would have done to your computer, to make certain that you want to do that.
I ve kept this chapter s text a bit shorter because some of the examples I showed you probably took a bit longer to complete, and because I want you to spend a bit more time completing the following hands-on exercises. If you haven t already completed all of the Try it now tasks in the chapter, I strongly recommend that you do so before tackling these tasks:
Create a CliXML reference file for the services on your computer. Then, change the status of some non-essential service like BITS (stop it if it s already started; start it if it s stopped on your computer). Finally, use Diff to compare the reference CliXML file to the current state of your computer s services. You ll need to specify more than the Name property for the comparison does the -property parameter of Diff accept multiple values How would you specify those multiple values Create two similar, but different, text files. Try comparing them using Diff. To do so, run something like this: Diff -reference (Get-Content File1.txt) -difference (Get-Content File2.txt). If the files have only one line of text that s different, the command should work. If you add a bunch of lines to one file, the command may stop working. Try experimenting with the Diff command s -syncWindow parameter to see if you can get the command working again. What happens if you run Get-Service | Export-CSV services.csv | Out-File from the console Why does that happen Apart from getting one or more services and piping them to Stop-Service, what other means does Stop-Service provide for you to specify the service or services you want to stop Is it possible to stop a service without using GetService at all
What if you wanted to create a pipe-delimited file instead of a comma-separated file You would still use the Export-CSV command, but what parameters would you specify Is there a way to eliminate the # comment line from the top of an exported CSV file That line normally contains type information, but what if you wanted to omit that from a particular file Export-CliXML and Export-CSV both modify the system, because they can create and overwrite files. What parameter would prevent them from overwriting an existing file What parameter would ask you if you were sure before proceeding to write the output file Windows maintains several regional settings, which include a default list separator. On U.S. systems, that separator is a comma. How can you tell Export-CSV to use the system s default separator, rather than a comma
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