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Posted 6 Sep 2011
Licenced LGPL3

An Easier Way to Debug Windows Services

, 6 Sep 2011
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Here is an easier way to debug windows services

Are you tired of attaching the Visual Studio debugger to the service application? I got the solution just for you! It’s a small helper class containing a static method which you need to invoke.

public static void Main(string[] argv)
    // just include this check, "Service1" is the name of your service class.
    if (WindowsServiceHelper.RunAsConsoleIfRequested<Service1>())

    // all other code

Then go to project properties, the “Debug” tab and add “-console” as Command Arguments.

Shows the debug settings under project properties

How to configure Visual Studio

That’s it! What I do is simply allocate a console using the winapi and then invoke (through reflection) the proper protected methods in your service class.

The source code for the helper class is as follows:

public static class WindowsServiceHelper
    static extern bool AllocConsole();

    public static bool RunAsConsoleIfRequested<t>() where T : ServiceBase, new()
        if (!Environment.CommandLine.Contains("-console"))
            return false;

        var args = Environment.GetCommandLineArgs().Where
			(name => name != "-console").ToArray();


        var service = new T();
        var onstart = service.GetType().GetMethod("OnStart", 
		BindingFlags.Instance | BindingFlags.NonPublic);
        onstart.Invoke(service, new object[] {args});

        Console.WriteLine("Your service named '" + service.GetType().FullName + 
			"' is up and running.\r\nPress 'ENTER' to stop it.");

        var onstop = service.GetType().GetMethod("OnStop", 
		BindingFlags.Instance | BindingFlags.NonPublic);
        onstop.Invoke(service, null);
        return true;


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPLv3)


About the Author

Founder 1TCompany AB
Sweden Sweden

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Comments and Discussions

Questionisn't simpler? Pin
P0110X27-Sep-11 5:13
memberP0110X27-Sep-11 5:13 
AnswerRe: isn't simpler? Pin
jgauffin27-Sep-11 5:52
memberjgauffin27-Sep-11 5:52 
QuestionNice :) Pin
Stuart Blackler7-Sep-11 2:50
memberStuart Blackler7-Sep-11 2:50 

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