When creating a service with sc.exe how to pass in context parameters?

sc create <servicename> binpath= "<pathtobinaryexecutable>" [option1] [option2] [optionN]

The trick is to leave a space after the = in your create statement, and also to use " " for anything containing special characters or spaces.

It is advisable to specify a Display Name for the service as well as setting the start setting to auto so that it starts automatically. You can do this by specifying DisplayName= yourdisplayname and start= auto in your create statement.

Here is an example:

C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator> sc create asperacentral 
binPath= "C:\Program Files\Aspera\Enterprise Server\bin\Debug\asperacentral.exe" 
DisplayName= "Aspera Central" 
start= auto

If this worked you should see:

[SC] CreateService SUCCESS



Parameters for created services have some peculiar formating issues, in particular if the command includes spaces or quotes:

If you want to enter command line parameters for the service, you have to enclose the whole command line in quotes. (And always leave a space after binPath= and before the first quote, as mrswadge pointed out)

So, to create a service for the command PATH\COMMAND.EXE --param1=xyz you would use the following binPath parameter:

binPath= "PATH\COMMAND.EXE --param1=xyz"
        ^^                             ^
        ||                             |
  space    quote                     quote

If the path to the executable contains spaces, you have to enclose the path in quotes.

So for a command that has both parameters and a path with spaces, you need nested quotes. You have to escape the inner quotes with backslashes \". The same holds if the parameters themselves contain quotes, you will need to escape those too.

Despite using backslashes as escape characters, you do not have to escape the regular backslashes contained in the path. This is contrary to how you normally use backslashes as escape characters.

So for a command like
"PATH WITH SPACES \COMMAND.EXE" --param-with-quotes="a b c" --param2:

binPath= "\"PATH WITH SPACES \COMMAND.EXE\" --param-with-quotes=\"a b c\" --param2"
         ^ ^                 ^           ^                      ^       ^         ^
         | |                 |           |                      |       |         | 
 opening     escaped      regular     escaped                    escaped       closing
   quote     quote       backslash    closing                    quotes          quote
     for     for            in         quote                      for              for
   whole     path          path       for path                  parameter        whole
 command                                                                       command

Here is a concrete example from the SVNserve documentation, which shows all special cases:

sc create svnserve 
   binpath= "\"C:\Program Files\CollabNet Subversion Server\svnserve.exe\" --service -r \"C:\my repositories\"  "
   displayname= "Subversion Server" depend= Tcpip start= auto 

(linebreaks are added for readability, do not include them)

This would add a new service with the command line "C:\Program Files\CollabNet Subversion Server\svnserve.exe" --service -r "C:\my repositories".

So in summary

  • space after each sc parameter: binpath=_, displayname=_ and depend=_
  • each sc parameter that contains spaces must be enclosed in quotes
  • all additional quotes inside the binpath are escaped with backslashes: \"
  • all backslashes inside the binpath are not escaped

sc create "YOURSERVICENAME" binpath= "\"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL11\MSSQL\Binn\sqlservr.exe\" -sOPTIONALSWITCH" start= auto 

See here: Modifying the "Path to executable" of a windows service