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What Are PowerShell Runspaces and How Can You Use Them?

Have you found yourself in a situation where you need to run multiple PowerShell commands simultaneously, but don't want to wait for each command to complete before moving on to the next? Or maybe you need to execute a long-running script, but you don’t want it to take forever? It can be especially grueling when you are testing a new process with PowerShell, and it takes an eternity to finish. Enter PowerShell Runspaces.


PowerShell Runspaces allow you to run multiple PowerShell commands in parallel. Making your scripts faster and more efficient. In this blog, we'll explore what PowerShell Runspaces are, how they work, and when you should use them to cut your PowerShell scripts from taking hours, to taking minutes.


What are Runspaces?

Runspaces are new threads created on top of the existing PowerShell process. These new threads do incur more resources, but as long as the system you are using Runspaces on has the capacity, there shouldn’t be an issue. You feed in the commands that you want to run in the Runspace, and the thread takes care of the execution. The Runspace then needs to be watched for completion, if you need any output from it, and then torn down once execution is complete.


Runspaces essentially make your single threaded PowerShell script multi-threaded. Using multi-threaded processes like this can significantly reduce runtime and increase productivity. For example, say you had a health check that pings 1000 systems. Even if you only ping them each once, some may fail to respond. This takes significantly longer than those that successfully connect. So, instead of waiting for that failed response to return, you just wait for that particular Runspace to finish execution along with all the others. Something important to note. Unlike with most PowerShell features, Runspaces can only be configured using the .NET classes directly.


Why should Runspaces be used?

There are many use cases that can be outlined for why you should use Runspaces. We won’t even begin to try to explain them all. However, here are a few instances where Runspaces can come in handy. For example, running scripts on numerous systems that gather and/or process large amounts of data. This data can be split up or chunked into each Runspace for faster processing/gathering. As with any multi-threaded process, you will need to proceed with caution and make sure the results in one Runspace will not overlap or interfere with the results in any other Runspace.


When should you use Runspaces?

Now, we don’t want you to think that Runspaces are something that should be implemented in every scenario, because that would definitely be overkill. Runspaces are something that should be used with a PowerShell script where you want to improve the efficiency and capability of the process. There are certainly plenty of instances where Runspaces are not useful. You just want to focus on the PowerShell scripts that have long execution times, such as for loops that can easily be put into their own Runspace.


Runspaces have more than one use, and I’m sure if you manage a large environment and have some PowerShell scripts already created for monitoring or processing, you can leverage Runspaces to improve those processes. It really depends on the environment where the scripts are being run that determines whether Runspaces are a viable option or not.


Conclusion

PowerShell Runspaces are an incredibly powerful tool for any PowerShell user looking to streamline their workflow and improve the efficiency of their scripts. By allowing you to run multiple commands in parallel, Runspaces can drastically reduce the time it takes to execute your scripts. Unlocking new possibilities for your PowerShell projects.


Whether you're managing a complex network, automating tedious tasks, or simply looking to improve the performance of your scripts, Runspaces are a must-know feature. By incorporating Runspaces into your PowerShell toolkit, you'll be able to achieve a new level of efficiency and power. If you haven't already, take some time to explore Runspaces and experiment with their capabilities. You might be surprised and what you find!


Still have questions or want to discuss your environment reach out to us at CDA. We’d love to discuss how we can help you with your business needs!


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