Install and configure a Windows Service from the command line

In this article I’ll show how to install and configure a Windows Service, query its status and properties, and then how to uninstall it. I’ll be using the command line utilities installutil.exe and sc.exe to install and configure the service.

Add a service installer class to your Windows Service project

In order to use installutil.exe to install your Windows Service, you need to add a service installer class. Otherwise when you try to install, you’ll get the following error:

No public installers with the RunInstallerAttribute.Yes attribute could be found in the C:\Services\TestService.exe assembly.

To create a service installer class:

  • Open your service class file in design mode in Visual Studio.
  • Right-click > click Add Installer.
Service component design mode, right-click and click Add Installer

After you click Add Installer, it will create the service installer class and open it in design mode.

At a bare minimum, you need to set the ServiceName and Account properties.

  • Click serviceInstaller1 to bring up its properties.
  • Specify the ServiceName property.
After adding the installer, the ProjectInstaller.cs component will pop up in design mode. Click on serviceInstaller1 and fill in the ServiceName property

Next, set the Account property. This property is the account that your service runs as, so choose whatever makes sense in your case (if you’re not sure, ask a security person).

  • Click serviceProcessInstaller1 to bring up its properties.
  • Set the Account to whatever value is appropriate in your situation.
In ProjectInstaller.cs, click serviceProcessInstaller and set the appropriate service account

Install the service and configure it

The following batch file installs TestService.exe by using installutil.exe, configures the service with sc.exe, and starts the service using net start:

@ECHO OFF REM Get log file name with timestamp for /f %%a in ('wmic os get LocalDateTime ^| findstr ^[0-9]') do (set ts=%%a) set LogName="C:\logs\installTestService%ts:~0,8%%ts:~8,4%%ts:~12,2%.log" REM Install service set servicePath="C:\Services\TestService.exe" "C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\installutil.exe" %servicePath% >> %LogName% REM Add dependency on SQL Server sc config TestService depend=MSSQL$SQLEXPRESS >> %LogName% REM Make start automatically sc config TestService start= auto >> %LogName% REM On crash, restart after 1 minute sc failure TestService actions= restart/60000/restart/60000// reset= 86400 >> %LogName% REM Start the service net start TestService >> %LogName%
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Running this installs the service and outputs to a timestamped log file (ex: C:\logs\installTestService20210205074016.log).

Note: Execute this by using Run as Administrator.

It configures the service with the following properties:

  • Depends on service MSSQL$SQLEXPRESS (SQL Server Express). This means it won’t run unless SQL Server Express is running. When SQL Server Express restarts, it also restarts TestService.
  • Starts automatically.
  • Restarts after 1 minute if the service crashes. Note: This is only configuring it to auto-restart twice. After two failures, it won’t attempt to auto-restart. It resets the failure counter after 1 day.

Query the service properties and status

You can look at the service properties and status either by looking in Services, or by querying the properties from the command line by using sc.exe.

Execute the following to get the service properties and status:

sc qc TestService
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This shows that the service is running and it’s using the configuration specified in the batch install script (from the previous section):

[SC] QueryServiceConfig SUCCESS SERVICE_NAME: TestService TYPE : 10 WIN32_OWN_PROCESS START_TYPE : 2 AUTO_START ERROR_CONTROL : 1 NORMAL BINARY_PATH_NAME : "C:\Services\TestService.exe" LOAD_ORDER_GROUP : TAG : 0 DISPLAY_NAME : TestService DEPENDENCIES : MSSQL$SQLEXPRESS SERVICE_START_NAME : NT AUTHORITY\LocalService
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Execute the following to check the failure configuration:

sc qfailure TestService
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This shows that it’s using the failure configuration specified in the batch install script:

[SC] QueryServiceConfig2 SUCCESS SERVICE_NAME: TestService RESET_PERIOD (in seconds) : 86400 REBOOT_MESSAGE : COMMAND_LINE : FAILURE_ACTIONS : RESTART -- Delay = 60000 milliseconds. RESTART -- Delay = 60000 milliseconds.

Uninstall the service

The following batch file uninstalls the service and outputs the results to a timestamped log:

@ECHO OFF REM Get log file name with timestamp for /f %%a in ('wmic os get LocalDateTime ^| findstr ^[0-9]') do (set ts=%%a) set LogName="C:\logs\uninstallTestService%ts:~0,8%%ts:~8,4%%ts:~12,2%.log" REM Install service set servicePath="C:\Services\TestService.exe" "C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\installutil.exe" %servicePath% -u >> %LogName%
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Running this uninstalls the service and outputs to a timestamped log file (ex: C:\logs\uninstallTestService20210205074023.log).

You can check if the service is uninstalled by checking if sc query returns an error, like this:

C:\WINDOWS\system32>sc query TestService [SC] EnumQueryServicesStatus:OpenService FAILED 1060: The specified service does not exist as an installed service.
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