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ICT-Hotlist Topic

Disable a Windows (server) system.

Disable a Windows System remotely

Have you found a virus running on a computer but the antivirus is working hard to contain it? You advised the employee to shut down the computer immediately but noticed the computer has restarted giving red notifications on your antivirus dashboard again? Use this trick to remotely disable a Windows system so the user can not start up the system again and must return it to the ICT-department or local support.

Pre Windows Vista

On Windows server 2003 and Windows server 2003 r2 (and Windows XP) you could disable a server by removing the NTLDR file from the C:\ root folder. Once the NT Loader file was removed by an administrator, the system will not boot.

Windows Vista and newer

With Windows Vista and Windows server 2008 Microsoft introduced a new boot management system, so this trick will not work any more.

Disable boot of a Windows server 2008/2012/2016/2019/2022 and Vista/7/8/10 and newer operating system

Warning: Use these steps at your own risk. Disabling Windows to boot makes the system unusable unless repaired using CD/DVD media or WDS.

Windows bootmanager

Windows server 2008r2/2012R2/2016/2019/2022 and Windows 7, 8.1, 10 newer use the new bootmanager to describe the diskpartitions and operating systems to load. These partitions can be viewed by entering the command (admin rights required):
Next you have to remove all the partition references by using the command:
bcdedit /delete <Partition ID> /f
An actual example with the shutdown command issued:
Warning: Use these steps at your own risk. Disabling Windows to boot makes the system unusable unless repaired using CD/DVD media or WDS.

Windows Boot Manager
identifier              {bootmgr}
device                  partition=\Device\HarddiskVolume1
description             Windows Boot Manager
locale                  en-us
inherit                 {globalsettings}
default                 {default}
resumeobject            {14f34e48-37c6-11e0-a3cd-d85edc162383}
displayorder            {default}
toolsdisplayorder       {memdiag}
timeout                 30

Windows Boot Loader
identifier              {default}
device                  partition=C:
path                    \windows\system32\winload.exe
description             Windows Server 2008 R2
locale                  en-us
inherit                 {bootloadersettings}
osdevice                partition=C:
systemroot              \windows
resumeobject            {14f34e48-37c6-11e0-a3cd-d85edc162383}
nx                      OptOut
detecthal               Yes

C:\>bcdedit /delete {default} /f
The operation completed successfully.

C:\>bcdedit /delete {bootmgr} /f
The operation completed successfully.

C:\>shutdown /s /t 00 /f
Warning: Remember to wipe or destroy data disks. This procedure only disables the booting of a system, the disks retain all the (privacy sensitive) data.

Enterprise Mobile Device Management

If you have Intune, Workspace One, Endpoint Management or another MDM you can wipe or retire a device and install it again.
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Many of the techniques used in these scripts, including but not limited to modifying the registry or system files and settings, impose a risk of rendering the Operating System inoperable and loss of data. Make sure you have verified full backups and the associated restore software available before running any script or programming example. Use these scripts and programming examples entirely at your own risk. All liability claims against the author in relation to material or non-material losses caused by the use, misuse or non-use of the information provided, or the use of incorrect or incomplete information, are excluded. All content is subject to change and provided without obligation.
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