When a computer runs for a long period of time, applications and operating system features can become unstable.  An unstable operating system might have application crashes, hanging applications, or memory leaks.  Sometimes even basic system functions become unresponsive.

One simple step to solve (or prevent) an operating system from becoming unstable is to restart.  This guide will walk you through restarting Windows Server 2016.


  • A system running Windows Server 2016
  • Command-line access
  • (optional) a remote server connection
  • Save any work or applications first!


  • (optional) Graphical User Interface installed
  • (optional) Windows PowerShell


Part A: Using the GUI

The normal Windows Server 2016 interface is called a GUI, or Graphical User Interface, which simplifies many tasks.

Click the Start menu > Power button > Restart.

Part B: How to Restart Windows Server 2016 from Command Prompt

In some cases, you may not have the GUI component installed.  Or, maybe your operating system encountered a problem, and all you can access is a command prompt.

Step 1: Open the command prompt

Press ctrl-alt-del

The system should present a menu – click Task Manager

In the Task Manager window, click More Details

Click the File menu, then click Run new task

In the field, type cmd.exe– then check the box to create the task with administrator privileges.  Click OK.

A black window with white text should appear.

Step 2: Reboot the Windows Server Operating System

In the Command Prompt window, type the following, then press Enter:

shutdown –r

The option –rtells Windows to restart, instead of simply shutting down.

Part C: Restarting from PowerShell

Windows PowerShell is like a souped-up version of the command prompt.  It’s based on the .NET framework, and includes a scripting language.  PowerShell is useful for tinkering under the hood of your operating system.

Step 1: Launch PowerShell

Press ctrl-shift-esc to launch the Task Manager.

Click the File menu, then Run new task.

In the prompt, type powershell.exe and tick the box to start with administrator privileges.  Click OK.

A new window with a dark blue background should launch.  You can tell you’re in a PowerShell window if the prompt begins with PS.

Step 2: Restart the system

In the PowerShell window, type the following and press Enter:


By default, you’ll get a 5-second countdown, then the system will restart.

You can add an option to delay the restart for longer than the default 5 seconds:

Restart-Computer –delay 15

Change the number 15 to the number of seconds you wish to delay.

Part D: Restarting a remote system through PowerShell

Step 1: Launch PowerShell

See Part C, Step 1 above.

If you are in a command prompt, or all you have is a command prompt, you can type:


The prompt will add PS at the beginning, and your typed commands should appear in yellow.

Step 2: Restart remotely

In the PowerShell window, type the following:

Restart-Computer –ComputerName “NAME_OF_SYSTEM”

Replace NAME_OF_SYSTEM with the name of the computer you want to restart.  Make sure to include the quotation marks.

Note:  This assumes that your current credentials are the same as those for the remote system.  Typically this might look like a username of an administrator, and the same password for both systems.  It can also work if both systems are on the same domain, and your user account has the appropriate permissions.  See the PowerShell Restart-Computer page for more information.


Most of the time, restarting a Windows server is very simple.

However, if you run into a snag – the GUI isn’t working, or you can only launch the Task Manager – this guide on How to Restart Windows Server 2016 can help.