An easier way to debug windows services

Have you got 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 to allocate a console using the winapi and then invoke (through reflection) the proper protected methods in your service class.

Source code for the helper class:

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.rnPress 'ENTER' to stop it.");

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