Run Node-RED as a service on Windows

Step by step guide to run FlowFuse device agent as a Windows service

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FlowFuse's device agent allows you to manage and run your Node-RED instances on your own hardware such as a Raspberry Pi or Windows computer. This can be very useful where an application you've written needs to run flows with direct access to hardware sensors.

In this article, we're going to explain the steps to configure our device agent to run as a service in Windows using the nssm utility.

Why run the device agent as a service?

The standard process for running FlowFuse's device agent is to start it on the command line using the command flowfuse-device-agent. This works fine for testing but for long-term installations it's useful to run the device agent as a service. Once running as a service, the device agent will continue to run even if you log off or the computer is restarted and no user is logged in.


The aim of this how-to is to install the FlowFuse device-agent as a service on a Windows computer.

There will be two main parts to this:

  1. Install the device-agent
  2. Setup the device-agent to run as a Windows service

Additionally, two user accounts will be needed for this configuration:

  1. A user account that will be used to run the device-agent (typically, non-admin account)
  2. An admin account that can run elevated commands and will be used to setup the service

We will create a directory for the device-agent files and set the permissions on that directory so that the user account can read and write files in that directory. This will be c:\opt\flowfuse-device

To make the device-agent run as a service, we will (in this example), use nssm but you are free to choose an alternative tool to run the device agent as a service.

Finally, we set the service to run under the service account.

NOTE: The instructions in this how to were written on Windows 11 Pro 22H2

TIP: Using domain accounts

If the account is a domain account, append the domain name to the user e.g. user@domain whenever the user name is used in the instructions below.

TIP: Launching an elevated command prompt window (e.g. as the admin user)

powershell -Command "Start-Process 'cmd' -Verb runAs

TIP: Launching an elevated powershell prompt window (e.g. as the admin user)

powershell -Command "Start-Process 'powershell' -Verb runAs


Install Node.js

The device-agent requires Node.js to be installed. You can download the latest version from

It is recommended to install the LTS version and to check the "Automatically install the necessary tools" option. This is especially important if you intend on using any nodes that require native modules (like serialport).

Create a New Windows User

If you need to create a new user account follow these instructions.

Prepare the device-agent files directory

As the admin user, open an elevated command prompt, create the files directory and setup access permissions.

# In an elevated command prompt
mkdir c:\opt
mkdir c:\opt\flowfuse-device
# grant full access to the service account that will run the device-agent
icacls c:\opt\flowfuse-device /grant "user":F /T

where "user" is the service account (not the admin account)

Install nssm

nssm can simply be downloaded and executed from any path. We will download it to the c:\opt directory, extract the files and copy the 64 bit version to the current directory.

cmd version elevated command prompt

# starting in the device-agent files directory
cd c:\opt
# download the nssm zip file
curl -LJO
# extract the files
tar -xf
# copy the 64 bit version to the current directory
copy nssm-2.24\win64\nssm.exe .
# clean up
rmdir /s /q nssm-2.24

powershell version elevated powershell prompt

If you don't have cURL installed, then powershell can be used to download the file. Here is how to do it:

# starting in the device-agent files directory
cd c:\opt
# download the nssm zip file
Invoke-WebRequest -Uri -OutFile
# extract the files
Expand-Archive -Path .
# copy the 64 bit version to the current directory
Copy-Item -Path .\nssm-2.24\win64\nssm.exe -Destination .
# clean up
Remove-Item -Path
Remove-Item -Path nssm-2.24 -Recurse

Manual download

If you prefer, you can download the nssm zip file manually from and extract the files to the c:\opt directory. Then copy the 64 bit version to the current directory.

Ultimately, you should end up with a file named nssm.exe in the c:\opt\ directory.

Install and configure the device-agent

As the service account, to do so open a command prompt window and run the following and authenticate:

runas /user:{serviceuser} cmd
# e.g. runas /user:winserv cmd

where {serviceuser} is the service account (not the admin account)

Check the users npm global path is set in the Users Environment Variables

NOTE: The recommended flowfuse-device-agent instructions will result in the flowfuse-device-agent being installed in the NPM global directory. And the instructions to launch the device-agent expect the NPM global directory to be in your user path. This section will instruct you to a) find the NPM global path, then b) check the user’s path setting and, if necessary c) add the NPM global path to your user path.

First, make a note of the path currently set for npm global. You can do this by running the following command:

npm config get prefix

Next, ensure the Path Variable under the "User variables for user" contains the npm global path that we obtained in the previous step. Use the below command, to check the user’s Path setting. If it is not present, edit the path to include it.

# This commands opens the environment variables editor, 
# look for the "Path" variable under "User variables for user",
# and ensure it contains the npm global path
rundll32 sysdm.cpl,EditEnvironmentVariables

If you did have to add the npm path to the users Path variable, you will need to restart the command prompt for the change to take effect and relogin as user.

Install the device agent

Note: you may have already installed the device-agent, however, we strongly recommend you do this step again as the service account and ensure that account has the latest version.

npm i -g @flowfuse/device-agent

First, we must run the device-agent and link it to our FlowFuse team. This will generate a "device configuration" details that we will use to configure the device-agent. Below is how to run the device-agent with the UI enabled. This will allow you to configure the device-agent via its web UI.

flowfuse-device-agent --ui --ui-port 8080 --ui-user admin --ui-pass admin -d c:\opt\flowfuse-device -p 1880

The device-agent will now be running and you can access the UI at with the user and password both "admin" (you can change these in the command line if required). NOTE: These credentials are temporary and only valid during the device setup

Proceed to configure the device-agent and link it to your flowfuse team. Full instructions can be found here. Once you have linked the device-agent to your team, you can stop it by pressing ctrl+c in the command prompt window.

Create the device-agent service

As the admin user, open an elevated command prompt see TIP above

Install device-agent as a service

cd c:\opt
.\nssm.exe install flowfuse-device-agent "flowfuse-device-agent.cmd"
.\nssm.exe set flowfuse-device-agent AppDirectory "c:\opt\flowfuse-device"
.\nssm.exe set flowfuse-device-agent Description "FlowFuse Device Agent"
# set the AppParameters (cli options) to tell the agent where its home directory is
# in our case, this is c:\opt\flowfuse-device and is set with the -d option
.\nssm.exe set flowfuse-device-agent AppParameters "-d c:\opt\flowfuse-device -p 1880"

Check the service is installed

Run the following command to check the service is installed:


(look for a service named `flowfuse-device-agent').

Alternatively, you can use the sc command:

sc query flowfuse-device-agent

Set the user account that will run the service

Some things are easier to edit in the UI, so we will edit the service via the NSSM UI.

nssm edit flowfuse-device-agent

nssm editor

In the UI, you can edit the service name, description, startup type, etc. The most important thing to check is the Application tab. This includes the path to the flowfuse-device-agent.cmd and its arguments. Select the "Log on" tab, select "This account" and enter the service account name and password that will run the device-agent. Click the "Edit Service" button to save the changes.

Now you have a service that will run the device-agent as the service account 🎉

Controlling the service

You can start the service with the command:

sc start flowfuse-device-agent

You can check the current status with the command:

sc query flowfuse-device-agent

You can stop the service with the command:

sc stop flowfuse-device-agent

Further reading

If you'd like to learn about windows services via the sc command you can access the help text by running sc from a command prompt.

Written By:

Senior Software Developer
Customer Success Manager
OT Data & Community Strategist

Published on:

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