About Remote Variables

Short description

Explains how to use local and remote variables in remote commands.

Long description

You can use variables in commands that you run on remote computers. Assign a value to the variable and then use the variable in place of the value.

By default, the variables in remote commands are assumed to be defined in the session that runs the command. Variables that are defined in a local session, must be identified as local variables in the command.

Using remote variables

PowerShell assumes that the variables used in remote commands are defined in the session in which the command runs.

In this example, the $ps variable is defined in the temporary session in which the Get-WinEvent command runs.

Invoke-Command -ComputerName S1 -ScriptBlock {
  $ps = "*PowerShell*"; Get-WinEvent -LogName $ps

When the command runs in a persistent session, PSSession, the remote variable must be defined in that session.

$s = New-PSSession -ComputerName S1
Invoke-Command -Session $s -ScriptBlock {$ps = "*PowerShell*"}
Invoke-Command -Session $s -ScriptBlock {Get-WinEvent -LogName $ps}

Using local variables

You can use local variables in remote commands, but the variable must be defined in the local session.

Beginning in PowerShell 3.0, you can use the Using scope modifier to identify a local variable in a remote command.

The syntax of Using is as follows:


In the following example, the $ps variable is created in the local session, but is used in the session in which the command runs. The Using scope modifier identifies $ps as a local variable.

$ps = "*PowerShell*"
Invoke-Command -ComputerName S1 -ScriptBlock {
  Get-WinEvent -LogName $Using:ps

The Using scope modifier can be used in a PSSession.

$s = New-PSSession -ComputerName S1
$ps = "*PowerShell*"
Invoke-Command -Session $s -ScriptBlock {Get-WinEvent -LogName $Using:ps}

A variable reference such as $using:var expands to the value of variable $var from the caller's context. You do not get access to the caller's variable object. The Using scope modifier cannot be used to modify a local variable within the PSSession. For example, the following code does not work:

$s = New-PSSession -ComputerName S1
$ps = "*PowerShell*"
Invoke-Command -Session $s -ScriptBlock {$Using:ps = 'Cannot assign new value'}

For more information about Using, see about_Scopes

Using splatting

PowerShell splatting passes a collection of parameter names and values to a command. For more information, see about_Splatting.

In this example, the splatting variable, $Splat is a hash table that is set up on the local computer. The Invoke-Command connects to a remote computer session. The ScriptBlock uses the Using scope modifier with the At (@) symbol to represent the splatted variable.

$Splat = @{ Name = "Win*"; Include = "WinRM" }
Invoke-Command -Session $s -ScriptBlock { Get-Service @Using:Splat }

Other situations where the 'Using' scope modifier is needed

For any script or command that executes out of session, you need the Using scope modifier to embed variable values from the calling session scope, so that out of session code can access them. The Using scope modifier is supported in the following contexts:

  • Remotely executed commands, started with Invoke-Command using the ComputerName or Session parameter (remote session)
  • Background jobs, started with Start-Job (out-of-process session)
  • Thread jobs started via Start-ThreadJob (separate thread session)

Depending on the context, embedded variable values are either independent copies of the data in the caller's scope or references to it. In remote and out-of-process sessions, they are always independent copies. In thread sessions, they are passed by reference.

Serialization of variable values

Remotely executed commands and background jobs run out-of-process. Out-of-process sessions use XML-based serialization and deserialization to make the values of variables available across the process boundaries. The serialization process converts objects to a PSObject that contains the original objects properties but not its methods.

For a limited set of types, deserialization rehydrates objects back to the original type. The rehydrated object is a copy of the original object instance. It has the type properties and methods. For simple types, such as System.Version, the copy is exact. For complex types, the copy is imperfect. For example, rehydrated certificate objects do not include the private key.

Instances of all other types are PSObject instances. The PSTypeNames property contains the original type name prefixed with Deserialized, for example, Deserialized.System.Data.DataTable

Using local variables with ArgumentList parameter

You can use local variables in a remote command by defining parameters for the remote command and using the ArgumentList parameter of the Invoke-Command cmdlet to specify the local variable as the parameter value.

  • Use the param keyword to define parameters for the remote command. The parameter names are placeholders that don't need to match the local variable's name.

  • Use the parameters defined by the param keyword in the command.

  • Use the ArgumentList parameter of the Invoke-Command cmdlet to specify the local variable as the parameter value.

For example, the following commands define the $ps variable in the local session and then use it in a remote command. The command uses $log as the parameter name and the local variable, $ps, as its value.

$ps = "*PowerShell*"
Invoke-Command -ComputerName S1 -ScriptBlock {
  Get-WinEvent -LogName $log
} -ArgumentList $ps

See also