Command Shell “For” Looping

One of the most common need for a script is to perform iterative looping. In other words, looping through a list to initiate some action against the items in that list. For example, have you ever wanted to simply test a list of machines to see if they are alive? Or, check for admin access on a series of machines? This is easily done with command shell scripting. I will demonstrate a simple way to create a “template” for future iterative looping and all you will have to do in the future is change the command!

@echo off
REM define the input file
REM This is a text file with a line delimited list.
REM You will type the input file name after the command file.
REM For example: Ping-servers.cmd serverlist.txt
set serverlist=%1
REM This is the core of the script that will perform the looping
for /f "tokens=1" %%i in (%serverlist%) do @set server=%%i&& call :TEST
REM This will end the script and keep it from re-looping the last line
Goto :EOF
REM Echo the server that you are pinging to the screen
REM echo Pinging %server%
REM Perform the ping and echo results
REM If unsuccessful, it will jump to the next line.
ping %server% -n 1|findstr /i "reply from" >NUL&& ECHO %Server%,Alive&& GOTO :EOF
REM execute the next line if server was unable to be pinged
echo %server%,Dead!
REM End action against the current computer in the list loop to next machine.
Goto :EOF

 When reusing this script, it is easy to modify it for other purposes. Say, for example, that you want to test to see if you have administrator access to these servers instead of pinging them. (Of course, you could easily do both in the same script, but for simplicity of this article, I will show you how to modify it for a single action.)

To test for admin access, you can simply change the :TEST routine. Change the line:

ping %server% -n 1|findstr /i "reply from" >NUL&& ECHO %Server%, Alive&& GOTO :EOF


dir \\%server%\c$|findstr /i "DIR">NUL&&Echo %server%,Admin Access&&GOTO:EOF

Of course, this is only one way of checking for admin access and there are also other command line tools that you can use from the various toolkits. This one is just a simple example of commands that are already pre-installed with the Windows OS and can be used on multiple platforms such as NT, 2000, 2003, XP, and Vista.

There are many uses for this template. I’ve used the template to search for files older than a certain time period, change registry keys, queried NetBIOS names without relying on DNS or WINS, and copied a set of files remotely. Anything that can be done with standard command line tools can be automated this way to perform actions on a list of computers with very little effort.

If you have other ideas for the iterative looping with command shell, comments are much appreciated!

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  1. #1 by Myles on May 7, 2013 - 4:26 am

    Amazing! Its actually awesome post, I have got much clear
    idea regarding from this article.

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