In this post I am going to explain how pre-shutdown notification can be enabled and handled in C# Windows service.

The need for pre-shutdown notification

Starting from Windows Vista on wards Windows provides an mechanism to notify applications/services about the system shutdown/reboot. Though shutdown notification was already supported through ServiceBase class’s CanShutdown property and OnShutdown method their functionality is very limited.

The limitation of OnShutdown method is, limited time given for the cleanup work and there is no guarantee that other essential services(e.g. DB, EventLog) are running. The last point is the fundamental reason why Microsoft brought this pre-shutdown notification.

Enabling pre-shutdown notification

If we are developing a Win32 application it is really easy to enable pre-shutdown notification. All we need to do is include SERVICE_ACCEPT_PRESHUTDOWN flag in dwControlsAccepted field of service’s SERVICE_STATUS structure.

But in .NET’s ServiceBase class there is no direct way to enable pre-shutdown notification. We can achieve the goal by accessing the ServiceBase class’s internals through .NET reflection.



  FieldInfo acceptedCommandsFieldInfo =
      typeof(ServiceBase).GetField("acceptedCommands", BindingFlags.Instance | BindingFlags.NonPublic);
  if (acceptedCommandsFieldInfo == null)
    throw ApplicationException("acceptedCommands field not found");
  int value = (int)acceptedCommandsFieldInfo.GetValue(this);
  acceptedCommandsFieldInfo.SetValue(this, value | SERVICE_ACCEPT_PRESHUTDOWN);

In the constructor of the service MyService we add the SERVICE_ACCEPT_PRESHUTDOWN flag to acceptedCommands private field of ServiceBase using reflection. This enables the pre-shutdown notification.

Handling pre-shutdown notification

The pre-shutdown notification is delivered through the ServiceBase class’s OnCustomCommand method. This method is called whenever a command is sent to the service which is not supported by ServiceBase. The method provides a parameter command which holds the command code. So to handle the pre-shutdown notification we need to check whether the command matches with pre-shutdown notification code.

protected override void OnCustomCommand(int command)
      // do the clean-up here

So that is all we need to enable and handle pre-shutdown notification.