What is PowerShell and Why Use It?

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PowerShell is a command line tool that can be used for automating system administration tasks. It’s also been adopted by Microsoft Windows to provide an interface and an automation model similar to the Unix/Linux shell, but with some important differences. With PowerShell the user has access to more functionality than they do in Linux or Unix shells because it is written in C# rather than Bash, giving them access to Windows APIs that are not available across all operating systems.

PowerShell is a command-line tool that allows users to automate and manage the use of Windows. It is often used by system administrators to configure, control, and monitor their systems remotely. Read more in detail here: what is windows powershell.

What is PowerShell and Why Use It?

When they could save so much time by automating things, many computer workers put up with repeated processes and handle things through the point-and-click technique. Microsoft’s PowerShell shell and scripting language may assist. What exactly is PowerShell?

In its most basic form, PowerShell is a cross-platform shell and scripting language that enables users to manage tasks and automate thousands of jobs from the command line. It’s a programming language based on Microsoft’s.NET Framework that simplifies many of our tasks.

This article will teach you about PowerShell, where it comes from, the fundamentals of PowerShell, and why PowerShell can be the ideal tool for you.

On PowerShell, we have hundreds of blog entries. Check out all of the other entries on this site if you’re new to this language.

What is PowerShell and how does it work?

PowerShell is a free and open-source shell and scripting language based on Microsoft’s.NET framework. Its goal is to assist IT professionals who aren’t software engineers in creating efficient scripts and tools to help them accomplish their jobs more effectively.

PowerShell was created to give a first-class command-line interface and script language that is simple to comprehend and use. It evolved from languages like VBScript and batch files.

PowerShell, like object-oriented programming, is object-oriented and largely reliant on objects (OOP). Almost everything in PowerShell is an object, which you’ll learn more about shortly.

PowerShell is two things: it’s a command-line shell that lets users perform commands at a command prompt, similar to the old command prompt; and it’s a scripting language (cmd.exe). It’s also a powerful scripting language that can be used to create tools and automate almost anything.

PowerShell has various commands called cmdlets and functions that may be used interactively or in a script. These commands are either built binaries or user-written custom code that encapsulates a specific operation, such as reading a file or pinging a distant machine.

PowerShell’s Development

In 2002, Microsoft’s Jeffrey Snover recognized that Windows lacked the command-line interface and scripting capabilities of its competition, Linux. To address this, Snover published the Monad Manifesto, a paper that outlined his vision for PowerShell.

PowerShell was known as Monad from 2002 to 2005, while it was still in its early stages of development. With the introduction of PowerShell 1.0 in 2006, the term “PowerShell” became a household name. Since then, the Microsoft PowerShell team has used the manifesto as a guide to add new functionality to PowerShell on a regular basis.

Before Windows XP and Windows Server 2012, PowerShell was only accessible as part of the Windows Management Framework and had to be installed separately. PowerShell is now installed by default on all Windows operating systems as of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

The Cross-Platform Transition

PowerShell was exclusively available on Windows from 2006 to 2016, and was known as Windows PowerShell until version 5.1. PowerShell is based on the.NET Framework, which was only available for Windows at the time. With 2016, Microsoft took a risk and chose to open-source PowerShell on GitHub, dropping the ‘Windows’ and renaming it simply ‘PowerShell’ in version six.

Since then, PowerShell has been accessible not just on Windows, but also on macOS, Linux, and other *nix platforms that use.NET Core.

Windows PowerShell is backward compatible with PowerShell/PowerShell Core. Both versions of the software may be installed simultaneously.

PowerShell in the Future

PowerShell has already had its most significant development initiatives as of 2021. The PowerShell team at Microsoft administers the software, ensuring that the Monad Manifesto’s goals are met. Despite the fact that the most, if not all, of the game-changing features have already been published, Microsoft and the open-source community are still actively supporting it.

Commands

PowerShell, like other shells such as cmd.exe, Bash, and others, provides binary commands for performing certain tasks. You may, for example, use a command to read a file, ping a machine, delete a registry key, and many other things.

The most current version, PowerShell 7, comes with over 1500 built binaries known as cmdlets. PowerShell cmdlets are widely used and may be used to create complicated programs.

Average Joes can generate their own commands, unlike software professionals who use languages like C# to produce cmdlets. Functions, which are built into the PowerShell language, enable PowerShell users to write commands that are comparable to cmdlets.

These cmdlets and functions are used by developers to create basic to complicated solutions that automate almost anything.

To find out what commands are available on your system, use the Get-Command cmdlet.

Syntax of Commands

The syntax is one of PowerShell’s distinguishing features. For IT professionals, PowerShell offers a syntax that reads as it performs.

Unlike other shells, the commands have a defined naming convention that specifies precisely what they do.

Command names usually begin with a verb, followed by a dash, and a noun in a Verb-Noun syntax.

Although using the Verb-Noun syntax for your own functions isn’t required by PowerShell, Microsoft strongly recommends it.

Verbs

The verb is the most significant portion of a cmdlet name. This section should appropriately explain the cmdlet’s operation. Get-Content, for example, extracts text from a file, while Copy-Item copies a file. You may also use the Get-Verb command in a PowerShell console to discover all “authorized” verbs, as illustrated below.

To locate authorized verbs, use Get-Verb.To locate authorized verbs, use Get-Verb.

Nouns

There are no “authorized” nouns in PowerShell, unlike verbs. The object on which an action is performed may be anything. Within the engine, however, PowerShell distinguishes between a verb and a noun. Run the Get-Command command using the Noun option to see an example of this.

By using the Noun argument and entering the value A*. PowerShell will “divide” all of its available commands into a verb and a noun, only displaying instructions that begin with the letter A.

To get all nouns that begin with the letter A, use Get-Command.To get all nouns that begin with the letter A, use Get-Command.

Modules

The output of the Get-Command command was shown in the preceding section. There was a column named Source in that output. PowerShell needs all cmdlets to be part of a “bucket” or module in order to compartmentalize tasks.

Modules are collections of instructions that have a common purpose. Many essential PowerShell cmdlets, for example, are included in the Microsoft module. PowerShell. While cmdlets like Write-Host and Write-Debug exist in the Microsoft, management is not. Module PowerShell.Utility

PowerShell is pre-installed with a few dozen modules, but you may optionally download hundreds more depending on a job or product. You can locate or develop modules to handle the goods of other vendors.

Get-Module -ListAvailable returns a list of all modules installed on your machine. The Get-Module command returns a list of all loaded modules (imported into your current session). The ListAvailable option instructs Get-Module to look for modules that are installed but not yet imported on your file system.

Get-Module returns a list of all accessible PowerShell modules.Get-Module returns a list of all accessible PowerShell modules.

Search the PowerShell Gallery using the Find-Module command to find hundreds of different modules.

Objects

One of the most crucial components of PowerShell to master after you’ve become acquainted with it is objects. In PowerShell, everything is an object with attributes and methods.

To comprehend PowerShell, you must first comprehend how objects function.

Understanding PowerShell Objects is a related topic.

Objects from the Real World

Consider a single “thing” in the actual world. Let’s collaborate with a cat. A cat is an item having different features (properties) that determine the cat’s traits, such as color, size, age, and so on.

Each cat is a distinct item with distinct characteristics. Those are qualities, not traits.

ObjectsObjects

A cat is no longer an immovable thing. It performs actions including as sprinting, leaping, blinking, and purring. A cat (object) engages in some activity. The cat object in PowerShell includes a number of methods that perform actions.

Object Classifications

Using the aforementioned cat examples, every cat is a cat. A dog, on the other hand, is an item. There are currently two sorts of items. Those various things are referred to as types in programming. A type is a kind of object that has a set of attributes and methods in common.

A type is a cat, a type is a dog, and a type is an automobile. Each object has a unique collection of properties and operations available to it.

Methods and Properties of Objects

How do you represent a cat in code if it can be conceived of as an object with attributes and methods? Let’s start with a common kind of object, a string, to demonstrate this.

If you put the following text into your console and press Enter, the value will be returned to you, but there is more going on in the background.

“This is a Plain Text that is also an object.”

When you press the Enter key on your keyboard, PowerShell produces an object, particularly a System object. String. This string object contains a number of “members,” which PowerShell refers to as all of the attributes and methods.

By passing the string’s output to the Get-Member cmdlet (more on that later), you can examine all of the members allocated to this string object. Get-Member is a useful tool for inspecting PowerShell objects.

Some of the String Object's Members, Properties, and MethodsSome of the String Object’s Members, Properties, and Methods

A string’s length is one of its properties that specifies how lengthy the string is. Dot notation can be used to refer to a property’s value, as shown below.

“This is a Plain Text that is also an object.”.Length

You can see that PowerShell gives a number of 39, indicating this script is 39 character issues.

an issue with 39 charactersan issue with 39 characters

In a same way, you’d refer to a method on an object. Methods, on the other hand, need the usage of parenthesis rather than merely a collection of alphanumeric letters.

Parameters are used in certain techniques. You’d put those arguments in parenthesis to provide them to a method.

As illustrated below, the string object provides a function named Upper() that capitalizes all characters in the string.

“This is a Plain Text that is also an object.”.ToUpper()

Making all the letters capital case is a simple process.Making all the letters capital case is a simple process.

On the Microsoft.com website, you can learn more about Get-Member, Properties, and Methods.

PSDrives

The notion of a PSDrive is one of this shell’s standout features. PowerShell drives, often known as PSDrives, are “drives” similar to C: but with a twist. A file system disk, such as C:, consists of folders with files within. A PSDrive may be a registry hive, Active Directory, or certificate container, among other things.

PSDrives operate as a layer of abstraction between you and the data source, allowing you to traverse numerous sorts of data in a hierarchical fashion. To locate all accessible drives on your machine, use the Get-PSDrive cmdlet.

Get-PSDriveGet-PSDrive

Item, ChildItem, and ItemProperty are all nouns in PowerShell cmdlets. These cmdlets may be used with any PSDrive.

Cmdlets are a set of commands that may be used to do various tasks.Cmdlets are a set of commands that may be used to do various tasks.

For example, Get-ChildItem -Path HKLM: may be used to read a registry hive, or Get-ChildItem -Path HKLM: could be used to retrieve the attributes of a file. Get-ItemProperty -Path C:file.txt would be used to do this.

Handling Errors

Like all other programming languages, PowerShell also has Handling Errors or exception handling support. Using .NET Handling Errors like try, catch, and the legacy trap commands, you can catch exceptions as they happen in your scripts.

PowerShell, unlike other languages, contains a notion of hard and soft-terminating errors. A hard-terminating mistake is “worse” than a soft-terminating error in terms of severity. Depending on the conditions, a cmdlet may produce a soft or hard-terminating error, depending on how the developer designed the cmdlet.

For example, suppose you need to read the contents of a text file named C:NonExistingFile.txt, but the file does not exist. If the file does not exist, Get-Content produces a soft-terminating error by default. Exceptions are not thrown by soft-terminating mistakes in the catch block.

Errors with a soft termination As illustrated below, just return the error to the console and exit.

Get-Content -Path “C:NonExistingFile.txt” is a good option. -ForegroundColor Yellow -Catch Write-Host “I Found An Error And Caught It..”

Get-ContentGet-Content

To alter the default cmdlet behavior, all PowerShell cmdlets provide an ErrorAction argument. When the file isn’t discovered, I may want PowerShell to enter my catch block. Get-Content would have to produce an exception or a hard-terminating error to do this.

Use the With the ErrorAction, you may put an end to a value. option to “transform” soft-terminating errors to hard-terminating errors for a cmdlet reference, as seen below.

Get-Content -Path “C:NonExistingFile.txt” -ErrorAction Stop Try Get-Content -Path “C:NonExistingFile.txt” -ErrorAction Stop -ForegroundColor Yellow -Catch Write-Host “I Found An Error And Caught It..”

With the ErrorAction, you may put an end to a value.With the ErrorAction, you may put an end to a value.

The Transmission Line

When you execute a command in any shell, you may choose to have the output returned. That output is a simple string in Bash and other shell scripting languages. Unlike PowerShell, that string is not an object without any additional characteristics.

PowerShell has a pipeline to support objects since it only returns them. A pipeline’s notion isn’t unique, but transferring items through it is.

For example, you may be using the Mozilla Firefox browser, which runs as a process named firefox. Get-Process is a built-in cmdlet in PowerShell that allows you to find active processes.

Stop-Process is a cmdlet in PowerShell that ends ongoing processes. You’d have to perform something like this in a regular shell, which would take up two lines and add complexity.

Get-Process firefox $process Stop-Process $process

But, since the Stop-Process cmdlet accepts input via The Transmission Line, it has the logic to understand the process is for firefox and can stop that process, as shown below.

# Locate a process called Firefox and use the Stop-Process command to terminate it. Stop-Process firefox | Get-Process firefox

PipelinePipeline

The Transmission Line allows you to string together as many commands as you’d like as long as the commands accept pipeline input.

Communication via the Internet

PowerShell isn’t simply for the PC on which it was installed. It’s also capable of executing instructions on distant machines. It does this via the usage of PowerShell Remoting (PSRemoting). PSRemoting is a capability that allows you to connect to distant computers and run commands as if they were local.

The Ultimate Guide to PowerShell Remoting

You could want to disable the Windows Update service on your local machine, for example. Stop-Service -Name wuauserv might be used to do this.

Wrap the command in a script block and provide that scriptblock to the Invoke-Command command to execute it on a remote machine.

Stop-Service -Name wuauserv Invoke-Command -ComputerName SRV -Scriptblock

Invoke-Command: The Most Effective Way to Run Remote Code

PowerShell also has other related Communication via the Internet commands like Test-Connection and Test-NetConnection to ping, discover port status, and run traceroutes on remote computers.

-ComputerName www.google.com -Port 80 Test-NetConnection

Using PowerShell to test a network connectionUsing PowerShell to test a network connection

Conclusion

PowerShell is a fantastic tool for IT professionals, sysadmins, developers, and anybody else in charge of computer systems. Because of its basic commands, community modules, and the flexibility to develop your own scripts, it’s a tool that should be in everyone’s toolbox.

Check out all of the other PowerShell blogs here to learn more and get started automating!

PowerShell is a command-line shell and scripting language designed for system administration. It is built on the .NET Framework, uses a syntax that is common to many other scripting languages, and can run either as a standalone application or be embedded in another application. PowerShell includes over 300 built-in commands and supports both scripted and interactive use. Reference: powershell examples.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of PowerShell?

A: PowerShell is a command line shell and scripting environment. This allows you to access, control, and automate your computer with the power of scripts. It is designed for system administration purposes like controlling services on Windows PCs or managing servers in data centers.

Is PowerShell necessary?

A: Some people have found that PowerShell is necessary when they need to run a script that requires it. On the other hand, some users who are more comfortable in command line would argue against this statement and state that why do you need scripting language like Powershell if you can use something else such as bash or Python?

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