[Solved] Can Powershell Run Commands in Parallel?

I have a powershell script to do some batch processing on a bunch of images and I’d like to do some parallel processing. Powershell seems to have some background processing options such as start-job, wait-job, etc, but the only good resource I found for doing parallel work was writing the text of a script out and running those (PowerShell Multithreading)

Ideally, I’d like something akin to parallel foreach in .net 4.

Something pretty seemless like:

foreach-parallel -threads 4 ($file in (Get-ChildItem $dir))
   .. Do Work

Maybe I’d be better off just dropping down to c#…

Solution #1:

You can execute parallel jobs in Powershell 2 using Background Jobs. Check out Start-Job and the other job cmdlets.

# Loop through the server list
Get-Content "ServerList.txt" | %{

  # Define what each job does
  $ScriptBlock = {
    Test-Path "$pipelinePassInc`$Something"
    Start-Sleep 60

  # Execute the jobs in parallel
  Start-Job $ScriptBlock -ArgumentList $_


# Wait for it all to complete
While (Get-Job -State "Running")
  Start-Sleep 10

# Getting the information back from the jobs
Get-Job | Receive-Job
Respondent: Steve Townsend

Solution #2:

The answer from Steve Townsend is correct in theory but not in practice as @likwid pointed out. My revised code takes into account the job-context barrier–nothing crosses that barrier by default! The automatic $_ variable can thus be used in the loop but cannot be used directly within the script block because it is inside a separate context created by the job.

To pass variables from the parent context to the child context, use the -ArgumentList parameter on Start-Job to send it and use param inside the script block to receive it.

# Send in two root directory names, one that exists and one that does not.
# Should then get a "True" and a "False" result out the end.
"temp", "foo" | %{

  $ScriptBlock = {
    # accept the loop variable across the job-context barrier
    # Show the loop variable has made it through!
    Write-Host "[processing '$name' inside the job]"
    # Execute a command
    Test-Path "$name"
    # Just wait for a bit...
    Start-Sleep 5

  # Show the loop variable here is correct
  Write-Host "processing $_..."

  # pass the loop variable across the job-context barrier
  Start-Job $ScriptBlock -ArgumentList $_

# Wait for all to complete
While (Get-Job -State "Running") { Start-Sleep 2 }

# Display output from all jobs
Get-Job | Receive-Job

# Cleanup
Remove-Job *

(I generally like to provide a reference to the PowerShell documentation as supporting evidence but, alas, my search has been fruitless. If you happen to know where context separation is documented, post a comment here to let me know!)

Respondent: Michael Sorens

Solution #3:

There’s so many answers to this these days:

  1. jobs (or threadjobs in PS 6/7 or the module for PS 5)
  2. start-process
  3. workflows (PS 5 only)
  4. powershell api with another runspace
  5. invoke-command with multiple computers, which can all be localhost (have to be admin)
  6. multiple session (runspace) tabs in the ISE, or remote powershell ISE tabs
  7. Powershell 7 has a foreach-object -parallel as an alternative for #4

Using start-threadjob in powershell 5.1. I wish this worked like I expect, but it doesn’t:

echo yahoo.com facebook.com | 
  start-threadjob { test-netconnection $input } | receive-job -wait -auto

WARNING: Name resolution of yahoo.com microsoft.com facebook.com failed

It works this way. Not quite as nice and foreach-object -parallel in powershell 7 but it’ll do.

echo yahoo.com facebook.com | 
  % { $_ | start-threadjob { test-netconnection $input } } | 
  receive-job -wait -auto | ft -a

ComputerName RemotePort RemoteAddress PingSucceeded PingReplyDetails (RTT) TcpTestS
------------ ---------- ------------- ------------- ---------------------- --------
facebook.com 0   True          17 ms                  False
yahoo.com    0 True          97 ms                  False

Here’s workflows with literally a foreach -parallel:

workflow work {
  foreach -parallel ($i in 1..3) { 
    sleep 5 
    "$i done" 


3 done
1 done
2 done

Or a workflow with a parallel block:

function sleepfor($time) { sleep $time; "sleepfor $time done"}

workflow work {
  parallel {
    sleepfor 3
    sleepfor 2
    sleepfor 1

sleepfor 1 done
sleepfor 2 done
sleepfor 3 done

Here’s an api with runspaces example:

$a =  [PowerShell]::Create().AddScript{sleep 5;'a done'}
$b =  [PowerShell]::Create().AddScript{sleep 5;'b done'}
$c =  [PowerShell]::Create().AddScript{sleep 5;'c done'}
$r1,$r2,$r3 = ($a,$b,$c).begininvoke() # run in background
$a.EndInvoke($r1); $b.EndInvoke($r2); $c.EndInvoke($r3) # wait
($a,$b,$c).streams.error # check for errors
($a,$b,$c).dispose() # clean

a done
b done
c done
Respondent: js2010

Solution #4:


i created an invoke-async which allows you do run multiple script blocks/cmdlets/functions at the same time. this is great for small jobs (subnet scan or wmi query against 100’s of machines) because the overhead for creating a runspace vs the startup time of start-job is pretty drastic. It can be used like so.

with scriptblock,

$sb = [scriptblock] {param($system) gwmi win32_operatingsystem -ComputerName $system | select csname,caption} 

$servers = Get-Content servers.txt 

$rtn = Invoke-Async -Set $server -SetParam system  -ScriptBlock $sb

just cmdlet/function

$servers = Get-Content servers.txt 

$rtn = Invoke-Async -Set $servers -SetParam computername -Params @{count=1} -Cmdlet Test-Connection -ThreadCount 50
Respondent: jrich523

Solution #5:

Backgrounds jobs are expensive to setup and are not reusable. PowerShell MVP Oisin Grehan
has a good example of PowerShell multi-threading.

(10/25/2010 site is down, but accessible via the Web Archive).

I’e used adapted Oisin script for use in a data loading routine here:


Respondent: Chad Miller

Solution #6:

To complete previous answers, you can also use Wait-Job to wait for all jobs to complete:

For ($i=1; $i -le 3; $i++) {
    $ScriptBlock = {
        Param (
            [string] [Parameter(Mandatory=$true)] $increment

        Write-Host $increment

    Start-Job $ScriptBlock -ArgumentList $i

Get-Job | Wait-Job | Receive-Job
Respondent: Thomas

Solution #7:

In Powershell 7 you can use ForEach-Object -Parallel

$Message = "Output:"
Get-ChildItem $dir | ForEach-Object -Parallel {
    "$using:Message $_"
} -ThrottleLimit 4
Respondent: izharsa

Solution #8:

If you’re using latest cross platform powershell (which you should btw) https://github.com/powershell/powershell#get-powershell, you can add single & to run parallel scripts. (Use ; to run sequentially)

In my case I needed to run 2 npm scripts in parallel: npm run hotReload & npm run dev

You can also setup npm to use powershell for its scripts (by default it uses cmd on windows).

Run from project root folder: npm config set script-shell pwsh --userconfig ./.npmrc
and then use single npm script command: npm run start

"start":"npm run hotReload & npm run dev"
Respondent: GorvGoyl

Solution #9:

This has been answered thoroughly. Just want to post this method i have created based on Powershell-Jobs as a reference.

Jobs are passed on as a list of script-blocks. They can be parameterized.
Output of the jobs is color-coded and prefixed with a job-index (just like in a vs-build-process, as this will be used in a build)
Can be used to startup multiple servers at a time or running build steps in parallel or so..

function Start-Parallel {
        [Parameter(Position = 0)]


    $jobs = $ScriptBlock | ForEach-Object { Start-Job -ScriptBlock $_ -ArgumentList $parameters }
    $colors = "Blue", "Red", "Cyan", "Green", "Magenta"
    $colorCount = $colors.Length

    try {
        while (($jobs | Where-Object { $_.State -ieq "running" } | Measure-Object).Count -gt 0) {
            $jobs | ForEach-Object { $i = 1 } {
                $fgColor = $colors[($i - 1) % $colorCount]
                $out = $_ | Receive-Job
                $out = $out -split [System.Environment]::NewLine
                $out | ForEach-Object {
                    Write-Host "$i> "-NoNewline -ForegroundColor $fgColor
                    Write-Host $_
    } finally {
        Write-Host "Stopping Parallel Jobs ..." -NoNewline
        $jobs | Stop-Job
        $jobs | Remove-Job -Force
        Write-Host " done."

sample output:

sample output

Respondent: Chris

The answers/resolutions are collected from stackoverflow, are licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0 .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.