If you're asked, "When was this server installed?" you may have to get creative to determine the answer. Determining when a server was built can be tricky because administrators may have cleared out the event and system logs, or they may have rolled over due to size limits.
One knee-jerk reaction to the question would be to look into Active Directory for the age of the computer account, but that may not tell the full tale. If a Windows Server is joined to a domain with a computer account name that already exists, the date on the object in Active Directory may not be accurate. Other tricks, such as looking for file dates on the server, can be inconclusive, especially if low-level tasks have been performed on the server, including a physical-to-virtual conversion, a rebuild of the OS, or a system restore to a new piece of hardware (also known as a bare metal recovery).
If you are out to seek the age of this particular instance of Windows, then you need Windows tell the story. The following command will tell you when Windows was installed:
systeminfo | find /i "install date"
This finds and returns one specific value from many values of a system including make, model, processor, uptime, and other values. The systeminfo command is common across all versions of Windows Server and addresses the key issues that can make the intuitive answers unclear. This can also be done via PowerShell. The equivalent command in PowerShell is shown below:
([WMI]'').ConvertToDateTime((Get-WmiObject Win32_OperatingSystem).InstallDate)Note: This PowerShell command is from Helge Klein's blog. This output is shown in Figure A from the PowerShell console. Figure A
Click the image to enlarge.
These two tricks will provide you with the final answer for the installation date of that particular installation of Windows.
If you have any tricks to coming up with the answer to this question, share them in the discussion.
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Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.