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Launch Remote Windows Apps

PAExec lets you launch Windows programs on remote Windows computers without needing to install software on the remote computer first. For example, you could launch CMD.EXE remotely and have the equivalent of a terminal session to the remote server. PAExec is useful for doing remote installs, checking remote configuration, etc.

PAExec - The Redistributable PsExec

Microsoft's PsExec tool (originally by SysInternal's Mark Russinovich) is a favorite of system administrators everywhere. It just has one tiny flaw: Microsoft will not allow PsExec to be redistributed.

We needed something that we could ship, and not finding a suitable replacement, decided to write our own.

Anyone can download and use PAExec. You can include it in your open source, freeware and even commercial applications. You may distribute it on your website, on CDs, mail to friends, etc. There is no cryptography built in so there aren't any export restrictions that we know of. See the License for all the legalese.

[Update: When we wrote PAExec, PsExec was not encrypting data sent across the network, so command lines, credentials, etc. would be sent in plain text. PAExec didn't either, but it did do a simple XOR scambling of the data, so it was a tiny bit safer. As of version 2.1, PsExec now DOES encrypt data sent across the network.]


Is PAExec Malware?

PAExec is a utility program that system administrators in IT use to do their work. As mentioned above, it is very similar to Microsoft's free PsExec utility. Unfortunately, like most tools, it can be used for good or bad, and some malware authors include PAExec and/or PsExec in their malware. Because of this, both PAExec and PsExec sometimes get mislabeled as malware. If this happens to you, you can submit a report to your security software vendor and tell them they have a false report and point them to this page.

PAExec is used daily by IT personnel, and it is included in many legitimate products, including our software. Neither PAExec nor PsExec get around any operating system security procedures - they are simply using documented APIs to accomplish their job. There are other similar tools and source code available that do the same thing.

How to Remove PAExec

If you are here because you found PAExec on your computer, it is most likely part of a legitimate software package (ours, or from many other vendors). Some companies use this utility to update drivers for example.

PAExec is self-contained and doesn't use an installer. You can simply delete PAExec.exe. This might cause issues with whatever other product was using it. We don't have any idea who uses PAExec - it is free on the Internet so any company can download it and use it in their products, which is also how Microsoft's PsExec is distributed.

Download PAExec v1.29 SHA1: 0FC135B131D0BB47C9A0AAF02490701303B76D3B

Source code is available on GitHub at


 PAExec \\{server IP address} -s cmd.exe

Creates a telnet-like session on the remote server, running as Local System.

 PAExec \\{server IP address} ipconfig

View network configuration on the remote server without needing to do an RDP session.

 PAExec \\{server IP address} -u {username} -p {password} -i -c MyApp.exe

Copy MyApp.exe to the remote server and run it as {username} so that it shows up on the remote server.


PAExec uses the same command-line options as PsExec, plus a few additonal options of its own. Run PAExec.exe /? to see a list of supported options, which are also shown below:

PAExec is a freely-redistributable re-implementation of 
SysInternal/Microsoft's popular PsExec program.  PAExec aims to be a drop 
in replacement for PsExec, so the command-line usage is identical, with 
additional options also supported.  This work was originally inspired by 
Talha Tariq's RemCom.

Usage: PAExec [\\computer[,computer2[,...]] | @file]
[-u user [-p psswd]|[-p@ file [-p@d]]] 
[-n s] [-l][-s|-e][-x][-i [session]][-c [-f|-v] [-csrc path]]
[-lo path][-rlo path][-ods][-w directory][-d][-][-a n,n,...]
[-dfr][-noname][-to seconds] cmd [arguments]

Standard PAExec\PsExec command line options:

        -a         Separate processors on which the application can run with
                   commas where 1 is the lowest numbered CPU. For example,
                   to run the application on CPU 2 and CPU 4, enter:
                   -a 2,4
        -c         Copy the specified program to the remote system for
                   execution. If you omit this option the application
                   must be in the system path on the remote system.
        -d         Don't wait for process to terminate (non-interactive).
                   This option is not compatible with -to
        -e         Does not load the specified account's profile.
        -f         Copy the specified program even if the file already
                   exists on the remote system.  Requires -c
        -i         Run the program so that it interacts with the desktop of the
                   specified session on the specified system. If no session is
                   specified the process runs in the console session. 
        -h         If the target system is Vista or higher, has the process 
                   run with the account's elevated token, if available. 
        -l         [EXPERIMENTAL] Run process as limited user (strips the 
                   Administrators group and allows only privileges assigned to
                   the Users group). On Windows Vista the process runs with Low 
        -n         Specifies timeout in seconds connecting to remote computers.
        -p         Specifies optional password for user name. If you omit this
                   you will be prompted to enter a hidden password.  Also see
                   -p@ and -p@d below.
        -s         Run the process in the System account.
        -u         Specifies optional user name for login to remote
        -v         Copy the specified file only if it has a higher version number
                   or is newer than the one on the remote system.  Requires -c
        -w         Set the working directory of the process (relative to
                   remote computer).
        -x         Display the UI on the Winlogon secure desktop (Local System 
        -{priority} Specify -low, -belownormal, -abovenormal, -high or
                   -realtime to run the process at a different priority. Use
                   -background to run at low memory and I/O priority on Vista.
        computer   Direct PAExec to run the application on the remote
                   computer or computers specified. If you omit the computer
                   name PAExec runs the application on the local system,
                   and if you specify a wildcard (\\*), PAExec runs the
                   command on all computers in the current domain.
        @file      PAExec will execute the command on each of the computers 
                   listed in the file.
        program    Name of application to execute.
        arguments  Arguments to pass (note that file paths must be absolute 
                   paths on the target system).

Additional options only available in PAExec:
        -cnodel   If a file is copied to the server with -c, it is normally 
                   deleted (unless -d is specified).  -cnodel indicates the file 
                   should not be deleted.
        -clist    When using -c (copy), -clist allows you to specify a text 
                  file that contains a list of files to copy to the target.  
                  The text file should just list file names, and the files 
                  should be in the same folder as the text file.
                  Example: -c -clist "C:\test path\filelist.txt"
                  filelist.txt might contain:
                  Myapp.exe and mydata.dat would need to be in C:\test path 
                  in the example above.  
                  IMPORTANT: The first file listed is assumed to be the one that 
                  will be executed.
                  -clist and -csrc cannot be used together.
        -csrc     When using -c (copy), -csrc allows you to specify an 
                  alternate path to copy the program from.  
                  Example: -c -csrc "C:\test path\file.exe"
        -dbg      Output to DebugView (OutputDebugString)
        -dfr      Disable WOW64 File Redirection for the new process
        -lo       Log Output to file.  Ex: -lo C:\Temp\PAExec.log
                  The file will be UTF-8 with a Byte Order Mark at the start.  
        -p@       Will read the first line of the given file and use that as the 
                  password.  File should be saved as UTF-8 with or without
                  Byte Order Mark.
        -p@d      Deletes the file specified by -p@ as soon as the password is 
        -rlo      Remote Log Output: Log from remote service to file (on remote 
                  Ex: -rlo C:\Temp\PAExec.log
                  The file will be UTF-8 with a Byte Order Mark at the start.  
        -to       Timeout in seconds.  The launched process must exit within this 
                  number of seconds or it will be terminated.  If it is terminated, 
                  the exit code will be -10
                  This option is not compatible with -d
                  Ex: -to 15    
                  Terminate the launched process after 15 seconds if it doesn't 
                  shut down first
        -noname   In order to robustly handle multiple simultaneous connections to a server,
                  the source server's name is added to the remote service name and 
                  remote PAExec executable file.  If you do NOT want this behavior, 
                  use -noname
The application name, copy source, working directory and log file
entries can be quoted if the path contains a space.  For example:

PAExec \\test-server -w "C:\path with space" "C:\program files\app.exe"

Like PsExec, input is sent to the remote system when Enter is pressed,
and Ctrl-C stops the remote process and stops PAExec.

PAExec will scramble the parameters to protect them from casual wire sniffers, but they 
are NOT encrypted.  Note that data passed between PAExec and the remote program is NOT
scrambled or encrypted.  If encryption is needed, use PsExec v2.1 or newer.

PAExec will return the error code it receives from the application that was 
launched remotely.  If PAExec itself has an error, the return code will be 
one of:

    -1 = internal error
    -2 = command line error
    -3 = failed to launch app (locally)
    -4 = failed to copy PAExec to remote (connection to ADMIN$ might have 
    -5 = connection to server taking too long (timeout)
    -6 = PAExec service could not be installed/started on remote server
    -7 = could not communicate with remote PAExec service   
    -8 = failed to copy app to remote server
    -9 = failed to launch app (remotely)
    -10 = app was terminated after timeout expired
    -11 = forcibly stopped with Ctrl-C / Ctrl-Break

Update Notes:

Version (and some downloads)

SHA1 Checksum

1.30 - Interactive mode works better when no credentials are given.


1.29 - Tries to use given credentials before making remote connection, handles input redirects, hides destination window if -i not given


1.28 - Won't create an interactive PAExec service, can run locally as non-administrator if credentials given.


1.27 - Added exdiva logging to see why the local computer list can't be obtained


1.26 - -s option works on non-English versions of Windows


1.25 - Allow -s and -h options. -h will be silently ignored when combined.


1.24 - Some fixes when launching apps locally


1.22 - More effort to delete the PAExec-{pid}-{source} service on the target computer, compiling with a new compiler


1.21 - Added -p@ and -p@d options


1.19 - Silently ignore /accepteula


1.18 - Reworked the -i flag. Added the -noname flag.


1.17 - Uses a uniquely-named service and executable filename so multiple instances can run at once


1.16 - Improved error logging


1.15 - Better clean up of service with multiple clients connecting


1.14 - Better support for interactive sessions


1.13 - Fix so -h fails gracefully on x64 XP and 2003


1.12 - Fix to -cnodel option. -u and -s can be specified together


1.11 - Fix to the -h implementation


1.10 - Added support for -h, and blank passwords


1.9 - Running with -d will show PID of started process


1.8 - Minor improvement to command-line parsing


1.7 - Multiple PAExec's can be running against the same target computer


1.6 - Added the -to option


1.5 - Fixed some command-line parsing problems


1.4 - Added the -clist option for copying lists of files


1.3 - Works on Windows 2000 now


You guys have probably the best customer support I've seen. A free ticket with a product update for something that wasn't even a bug?

Ryan, Technical Support,, USA ionicons-v5-b