Category Archives: Windows PowerShell

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Base64 Module #PowerShell

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Category : Windows PowerShell

Every now and then, I need powershell.exe’s EncodedCommand parameter in order to avoid trouble due to characters that interfere with command line processing. EncodedCommand accepts a base-64-encoded string and powershell.exe’s help shows how to get the base-64-representation of a given PowerShell command. But I always forget how to reverse engineer such a string and therefore decided to write two functions, ConvertTo-Base64String and ConvertFrom-Base64String.

I’ve bundled the functions in a PowerShell Module. Please find it in the PowerShell Gallery: Base64

The module adds two ScriptMethods to the System.String type, ToBase64String() and FromBase64String(), and the functions leverage this methods. Thus, you have the following possibilities to convert strings from/to base64:


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Updated: Subversion PowerShell Module

In May 2014, I published a PowerShell Module in the TechNet Gallery. It has a five star rating after all based on four votes, LOL. Anyways, I revised that module in order to support pipeline processing and whatif. Furthermore, I decided to publish the Subversion module in the PowerShell Gallery

The Subversion Powershell Module provides a bunch of functions and aliases to work with Subversion/SVN working copies. It requires the Subversion command-line binary svn.exe.

  • Update-SvnWorkingCopy brings the latest changes (HEAD revision) from the repository into an existing working copy.
  • Publish-SvnWorkingCopy sends the changes from your working copy to the repository.
  • Import-SvnUnversionedFilePath commits an unversioned file or directory tree into the repository.
  • New-SvnWorkingCopy checks out a working copy from a repository (HEAD revision).
  • Get-SvnWorkingCopy returns the status of working copy files and directories.
  • Add-SvnWorkingCopyItem puts files and directories under version control, that is scheduling them for addition to repository in next commit.
  • Remove-SvnWorkingCopyItem removes files and directories from version control, that is scheduling them for deletion upon the next commit. (Items that have not been committed are immediately removed from the working copy.)
  • Repair-SvnWorkingCopy fixes a working copy that has been modified by non-svn commands in terms of file addition and removal. The function identifies items that are not under version control and items that are missing. It puts non-versioned items under version control, and it removes missing items from version control (i.e. schedule for deletion upon next commit).
  • Switch-SvnWorkingCopy updates the working copy to a different URL within the same repository.

The functions provide only basic functionality and work fine with the subversion command line client from

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Get Azure VM Status With #PowerShell

The PowerShell cmdlet below, Get-AzureRmVMStatus, helps to you get a list of Azure VMs and their status (PowerState) within a given resource group. You can supply a VM name filter if you want to enclose only specific VMs in the result.

The usage of this function is as simple as…

Of couse, you need to log on to you Azure subscription before. (Login-AzureRmAccount)

The function requires Azure PowerShell Cmdlets. Start here: Azure PowerShell Install Configure


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Unattended Azure AD / Office 365 Connect For PowerShell Scripts

In the field, occasionally I stumble over Azure AD or Office 365 support scripts that contain hard coded credentials for the Connect-MsolService cmdlet. This is mainly because these scripts are intended to run regularly in the background and therefore need to establish a connection without user interaction (caused by Get-Credential). With this post I want to draw attention to a smarter approach that eliminates the risk of exposing plain-text passwords in script files.

In fact, saving/restoring credentials to/from file is the perfect use case for Export-CliXml and Import-CliXml. You can pipe any object to Export-CliXml. It creates an XML-representation of the object and saves it in a file. You can re-create the object based on the XML file with Import-CliXml. The best thing about it is that the Export-CliXml cmdlet encrypts credential objects with DPAPI to make sure that only your user account can decrypt the contents of the original credential object.

The following code is inspired by Example 3 of Export-CliXml’s help:

In the code above, the file in which the credential is stored is represented by (‘{0}.credential’ -f $MyInvocation.MyCommand.Name) which resolves to the file name of the script plus the .credential suffix. The file will be saved along with the PowerShell Profile ($profile). If the .credential file exists the code will leverage Import-CliXml to restore the credential object, if not it will invoke Get-Credential and save the credentials with Export-CliXml. In either case the credential variable exposes the credential object.

Please note anyway: Generally you should avoid storing credentials in plain-text files. Opt for this approach only if there’s no better alternative.

Hope this helps

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PowerShell Profile In Da Cloud

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Category : Windows PowerShell

If you want to keep the same PowerShell Profile on more than one Windows computer, how about transfering the relevant common parts of the profile to a file share or even the Cloud? Actually, that’s a no-brainer!

Below, I outline my approach with a few brief strokes.

1. Identify the parts of both the console and the ISE profile that you want to share with all computers.
2. Create a “Documents\WindowsPowerShell” folder in the root of your (cloud) storage mount point.
3. Within that folder, save the profile code related to console sessions as “Microsoft.PowerShell_profile.ps1” and the ISE profile code as “Microsoft.PowerShellISE_profile.ps1”
4. Replace the “outsourced” profile code from the local profile scripts with a reference to their cloud-based equivalents:

Apart from dot-sourcing an existing external profile script, the above code initiales a global CLOUDPROFILE variable with the full file name of the cloud-based profile script. Thus it’s very easy to access that file for editing purposes or so.

The next code snippet works with ISE only and enables you to skip profile loading by holding down the left CTRL key:

Hope this helps

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ISESteroids 2.0 Random Features

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Category : Tool , Windows PowerShell

A few months ago, I wrote only a short note about the (at that time) upcoming release of the PowerShell module ISESteroids. More precisely, ISESteroids is an Add-On for PowerShell ISE by PowerShell MVP Tobias Weltner. This time I’ll highlight some randomly chosen features.

First start

Ok, that is not really a feature. You can start ISESteroids by entering Start-Steroids. Owing to the Module Auto-Loading feature, this will load the ISESteroids module. But, mind the “sensitivity” of Module Auto-Loading! It already loads a module behind the scenes as soon as you “touch” it with Get-Command, Get-Help and Tab Expansion. So be prepared that ISESteroids loads when you invoke commands like Get-Command -Module ISESteroids, Get-Help Start-Steroids, and such…

Expert Level

In a nutshell, ISESteroids‘ objective is to assist you in writing better PowerShell code more quickly. As ISESteroids is so packed with features, however, it could twist that aim right around and tend to confuse especially beginners. If you start ISESteroids for the first time it will ask for the Expert Level. Whatever you’ll choose there, you can it later set to a more appropriate level by choosing the corresponding option the “Expert Level” menu.

Screenshot: Selecting the Expert Level


Yes, the concept of code snippets is already included in ISE. It’s a bit halfhearted, though. ISESteroids uses ISE’s snippet mechanism to the advantage it deserves. If you press the default snippet key sequence STRG-J ISESteroids opens the snippet selector. First surprise: The snippets are organized in folders. Selecting a folder leads to corresponding code snippets. (Btw, with the backspace key you move up in the folder structure.) Second suprise: The snippet selector allows for adding new folders and new snippets.

Screenshot: Selecting a code snippet

Screenshot: Snippet Manager


If you deal with the latest PowerShell version only, be happy in your bubble. My field experience differs regarding the PowerShell versions my scripts have to support. PowerShell 1.0 really faded away meanwhile, but I still stumble over version 2.0 for example. ISESteroids helps you to handle or rather to prevent compatibility issues by marking code that isn’t compatible to the targeted PowerShell version. So, be sure to check the appropriate option in the “Compatibility” menu. Apart from version-related compatibility ISESteroids can mark commands that are not shipping with PowerShell default, thus you have a sort of visual reminder of your script/code requirements.

Screenshot: Selecting compatibility

Risk Management

While you’re scripting, ISESteroids by default checks/analyzes your code against pre-defined risks. On potential risk detection you’ll be notified without attracting attention meaning that ISESteroids will change the risk status indicator from green to yellow or red. Keep an eye on that indicator. You’ll find it in ISE’s status bar and you can click it to enable/disalbe Autochecking, to approve the script, etc. Furthermore, there’s an option to manage black/white lists. (Note that the trail version doesn’t allow you to edit the pre-defined rules.)

Screenshot: Risk Management settings

Screenshot: Risk assessment result


Starting from say 100 lines of code you find yourself scrolling more and more. If you deal with rather huge scripts on a regular basis you’ll definitely like ISESteroids‘ ScriptMap feature. Turned on, it will show a preview of the entire script. If you move the mouse pointer over that ScriptMap area it will act as a reading-glass that helps you to identify the code region in question. A single click will navigate to the chosen code region.

Screenshot: Navigating with ScriptMap

Navigating to function definition/references back and forth

Apart from ScriptMap ISESteroids has more help to offer regarding navigation within (huge) script files. Above the definition of a function ISESteroids displays the number of references to this function (within the same file).

Clicking on this information will navigate to the references:

If you want to navigate (back) to the function definition, right-click on the reference to function in question on choose “Go To Definition”:

CloneView and split screen

Again, if you regularly deal with larger scripts ISESteroids helps you to minimize the ongoing efforts to navigate back and forth in the code. CloneView displays the current editor in a detached external window. Just right-click anywhere within the editor you want to clone and choose “Open CloneView”. The split screen feature divides the current editor in two sections, thus you’re able to simultaneously view/work on different sections of a single script.

Screenshot: Splitted editor window

Navigation Bar

OMG, yet another about navigating huge scripts? Yes and far more than that. If you turn on the Navigation Bar, at first sight you can both search text and instantly navigate to any function within the loaded script by selecting a function from the list.

Screenshot: Selecting a function to navigate to from the Navigator Bar

Beyond that, the Navigation Bar…

  • offers access to a couple of snippets and templates,
  • enables you to create a function from selected code,
  • and enables you to export a selected function to a new/existing PowerShell module

Screenshot: Selecting snipptes and templates from the Navigation Bar

Screenshot: Create a function from selected code from the Navigation Bar

Screenshot: Export a selected function to a new PowerShell module from the Navigation Bar

File Version History

To come to an end, ISESteroids has a rather casual file versioning feature. For those who care about version control but don’t want to get worked up over git, svn, csv, tfs, etc. ISESteroids can keep a file version history for a given file. (Behind the scenes it maintains a zip archive with all the past major and minor versions.)

Screenshot: File version history feature

Bottom line: Give it a try!

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ISESteroids 2.0 is getting off the starting blocks…

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Category : Tool , Windows PowerShell

… and you should give it a try: ISESteroids 2.0

To tell you the truth, up to yesterday I had some kind of prejudice against Tobias Weltner’s ISESteroids meaning that I considered it a PowerShell ISE Add-On that rather addresses a beginner’s needs.

During the 3rd german ‘PowerShell Community Konferenz 2015’ I changed my opinion. While giving talks, Tobias showcased by the way several times features of the upcoming release. I changed opinions. ISESteroids not only help you to produce better PowerShell solutions, but also it brings you to speed – regardless if your level is beginner, advanced, expert, guru whatever.

For example, imagine you’re challenged to write an advanced function with different parameter sets, mandatory parameters, and some optional parameters. With ISESteroids loaded, you can do things back to front, in other words you start with writing the syntax as you want it to be, such as…

After that you just need to highlight the code, right-click, select the ISESteroids action to create a function, and – voilà – you get a neatly written skeleton for a function that exactly matches the syntax specifications you made.

Another great feature I saw in action was a WPF GUI builder that requires/interacts with Visual Studio.

I could continue listing my memory minutes. But, it still would be just the tip of the iceberg. ISESteroids is packed features you need to discover while working with it. So do I

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Enums in Windows PowerShell Less Than Version 5.0

Maybe you’ve noticed that the upcoming version of Windows PowerShell, 5.0, will make Enumerators (Enums) very easy to create with the new enum keyword. With this post I share an approach to create enums in PowerShell 4.0 and lower as well.

(If you know what an Enumerator is you can skip this section.) Enums help you to deal with rather small ranges of integer values (each value gets a name) and, even more importantly, they simplify programming robust solutions. Put the case that you have to deal with different environments, for example Dev, Test, Acceptance, and Prod. And let’s say that each environment is represented by an int value (thus, 0 to 3 represents Dev to Prod). What happens if you assign the value 4 by mistake? For PowerShell it’s ok because 4 is a valid int value. Therefore, this error will remain undetected at the scene and – according Murphy – reveal its dark energy in the worst possible moment. You get the idea, I hope. It’s no fun to narrow down such problems. How to prevent such failure? You could mess around with if statements and -lt, -gt, -eq for example. Or you make use of, guess what, an Enum. If you have an Enum type for the afore-mentioned environments, PowerShell will refuse a variable of this type to be assigned any value outside of the scope 0..3 and throws an error at the root cause. Therefore, I like to use Enums ever since PowerShell 1.0.

In Windows PowerShell 4.0 and below, Enums are created as follows:

Now, play with it (that’s how I like to learn stuff, btw):

Now, let’s get dirty…

Btw, did you notice the hint within the error message? PowerShell lists the possible values for you.

Hope this helps

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Citrix PVS Image Preparation Script for XenApp 7.x Workloads

With this post I share a Powershell script that prepares the master installation of a XenApp 7.x Worker for imaging with Citix Provisioning Services, Prepare-XenApp7.ps1.

Due to fact that Citrix has ported its flagship XenApp to the architecture that was introduced with XenDesktop 5, there’s strictly speaking no need to generalize the PVS vDisk that provides the workload of a XenApp Worker because it doesn’t contain IMA-related stuff anymore. On the other hand there’s still room for some optimization steps before putting a XenApp vDisk into production/standard mode. The script automates the following steps:

  • Investigate the PVS’ Personality.ini in the root of the system drive in order to determine the disk mode that is read-write, read-only, or started from local HD
  • Clear Citrix User Profile Manager’s cache
  • Resync time
  • Update GPO settings
  • Clear network related caches (DNS and ARP)
  • Clear WSUS Client related settings
  • Clear event logs
  • Based on the findings in Step 1, suggest a convenient main action, that is either “Exit” (if we’re in maintenance/private w/ read-write vdisk access), or “Invoke ImagingWizard” (if we started from local HD), or “Invoke XenConvert” (reverse imaging scenario w/ read-only vdisk access)

BTW, the script should work for desktop workloads as well but I haven’t tested it so far.

Hope this helps

Latest version on GitHub: Prepare-XenApp7.ps1

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How To Backup MS SQL Express Databases? #PowerShell

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Category : Windows PowerShell

Happy Twenty Fifteen! The first post of the new year deals with a common question I am confronted with from time to time: Do you have a script to backup MS SQL Express? Yes, I have. The script requires the SQLPS PowerShell Module that will be installed automatically with newer versions of MS SQL Express. Basically, it simplifies the usage of its Backup-SqlDatabase Cmdlet:

Hope this helps