I’ve recently been exploring the world of Windows scripting, and I ran into a small problem: I was running a script at system startup, and the script was running before the network interface (which was using DHCP) was configured.

There are a number of common solutions proposed to this problem:

  • Just wait for some period of time.

    This can work but it’s ugly, and because it doesn’t actually verify the network state it can result in things breaking if some problem prevents Windows from pulling a valid DHCP lease.

  • Use ping to verify the availability of some remote host.

    This works reasonably well if you have a known endpoint you can test, but it’s hard to make a generic solution using this method.

What I really wanted to do was to have my script wait until a default gateway appeared on the system (which would indicate that Windows had successfully acquired a DHCP lease and had configured the interface).

My first attempts involved traditional batch scripts (.bat) running some variant of route print and searching the output. This can work, but it’s ugly, and I was certain there must be a better way. I spent some time learning about accessing network configuration information using PowerShell, and I came up with the following code:

# Wait for a DHCP-enabled interface to develop
# a default gateway.
# usage: wait-for-network [ <tries> ]
function wait-for-network ($tries) {
        while (1) {
    # Get a list of DHCP-enabled interfaces that have a 
    # non-$null DefaultIPGateway property.
                $x = gwmi -class Win32_NetworkAdapterConfiguration `
                        -filter DHCPEnabled=TRUE |
                                where { $_.DefaultIPGateway -ne $null }

    # If there is (at least) one available, exit the loop.
                if ( ($x | measure).count -gt 0 ) {

    # If $tries > 0 and we have tried $tries times without
    # success, throw an exception.
                if ( $tries -gt 0 -and $try++ -ge $tries ) {
                        throw "Network unavaiable after $try tries."

    # Wait one second.
                start-sleep -s 1

This uses various sort of filtering to get a list of DHCP-enabled interfaces that have a default gateway (the DefaultIPGateway attribute). It will poll the state of things once/second up to $tries times, and if nothing is available it will ultimately throw an exception.