Feb 022011

When you are trying to run a script over a very large environment you often want to make sure that each machine you are trying to hit is accessible and that you have permission. Most importantly, however, you want to do this as quickly as you can. This got me to thinking. I can use the test-connection cmdlet to see if the machine is online. It’s a really good tool because it can be passed the “-quiet” parameter and is then set to return a simple true or false answer. As well, you can speed it up by passing the “-count” parameter and speed things up by only testing once.

That’s easy enough, but what is the best way to test for permissions, and quickly. I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I think the best way is to run a test-path to the admin$ or c$ shares. Using these built-in shares you can quickly verify if you have administrative privileges to the machine. Here’s the catch, if you try to run the test-path cmdlet against a machine that isn’t responding it can run very slowly. So we want to first verify that it’s on, and then test for privileges. To guarantee that the test-path wouldn’t run I had traditionally made two “IF” statements with one nested into the other.

If (Test-Connection $Machine -quiet -count 1){
    If (Test-Path $Machineadmin$){
        #Code Here

But I thought that made for some rather ugly code. Instead I wanted to put both tests into a single “IF” statement, but I was worried that both commands would run and slow everything down. Logic states that it would be rather pointless to test for the second condition of an “AND” statement if the first condition was false. So I thought that maybe PowerShell would cut out the second portion, so I write this quick script to test my theory.

Function A{
    write-host "Running A"
    Return $False
Function B{
    write-host "Running B"
    Return $True

If ((A) -AND (B)) {
    "Found True"
    "Found False"
>>Running A
>>Found False

After playing with that code some more with various conditions I found exactly what I was hoping for. If you are testing multiple code blocks with an “AND” statement then it will execute down the path until one is false, and then stop.

So now I have shortened my test code to just one “IF” statement.

If ((Test-Connection $Machine -quiet -count 1) -AND (Test-Path $Machineadmin$)){
    #Code Here

As far as speed goes,it will of course depend on your environment,but I found that the following times were averages in mine:

Machine doesn’t exist (No DNS): 2500 ms
Machine not online: 3800 ms
Permissions denied: 50 ms
Online and Accessible: 30 ms

  2 Responses to “Testing Connection and Permissions to a Remote Machine”

  1. Thanks. I copied a piece of code that wasn”t working well into my search and up popped your solution. Thanks once more.

  2. FYI, this is called a “short-circuited if statement”, and is common in many programming languages (well, at least the decent ones). For example, it doesn’t work in vbscript.

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