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Archive for February, 2011

Running a Command Prompt as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM

Posted by Mike Howells on February 12, 2011

I recently ran into a situation where I was using the SysInternals tool ProcDump to write a dump file to be examined for a memory leak.

The problem started when trying to run ProcDump against the process oracle.exe. The error message was “Access denied.”

I was an administrator on the server so how could I become more powerful than an administrator?

The answer comes in the form of opening a command prompt as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM, which will then grant us the authority to access the oracle.exe process to create a dump file.

The first step is to download the Sysinternals tool PsExec from the below URL:


Extract PsTools.zip to a folder on your hard disk.

Launch a command prompt as administrator (right-click the command prompt shortcut):

In the command prompt navigate to the folder containing the PsTools.zip extracted data.

We will now launch PsExec.exe with the -i and -s switches to launch the program interactively using Local System.

psexec.exe -i -s %SystemRoot%\system32\cmd.exe

Type whoami at the newly opened command prompt and you will see that you are now running as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM:

You can now execute ProcDump against the process that you were previously denied access to and complete your work.

Note: If your system does not have whoami.exe, you can typically find this program as a separate download via the resource kit or support tools appropriate to your Microsoft operating system.


Posted in Administration | 7 Comments »