How to Reverse an Array in PowerShell

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

PowerShell, Microsoft’s task automation and configuration management framework, provides numerous tools and methods to manipulate arrays. Arrays, being one of the foundational data structures in computer programming, frequently need to be reversed, whether for data manipulation, algorithm requirements, or simple tasks like displaying data in a specific order.

In this guide, we will look into the various methods available in PowerShell to reverse arrays, understanding their inner workings, advantages, and use-cases. Whether you’re new to PowerShell or an experienced scripter, this guide will provide you with valuable insights on array reversal techniques in this versatile framework.

How to Reverse an Array in PowerShell

Understanding the basics of arrays in PowerShell

Before we go into the specifics of reversing arrays, it’s crucial to understand the fundamentals of arrays in PowerShell. An array is an ordered collection of items, which can be of any type. In PowerShell, arrays are incredibly flexible, allowing for mixed data types and dynamic resizing. To define an array, you can use the comma , to separate items:

$array = 1,2,3,4,5

This creates an array of integers. But PowerShell arrays can also hold mixed types:

$mixedArray = 1, "hello", $true, 2.5

PowerShell Arrays

Each item in an array has an index, starting from 0. This index is used to access specific elements:

$array[0] # Returns the first element, which is 1

Now that we have a foundational understanding of arrays, let’s explore the different methods to reverse them in PowerShell.

Also see: How to Run CMD or PowerShell as SYSTEM or TrustedInstaller

3 methods to reverse an array in PowerShell

In PowerShell, there are multiple techniques to reverse an array, each with its own use-cases and advantages. We’ll look into three primary methods.

1. Using the array class’s reverse method

PowerShell, being integrated into the .NET ecosystem, offers the ability to utilize built-in .NET classes directly within scripts. One of these classes is the Array class which provides a multitude of functions to manipulate arrays. The Reverse method from this class offers a direct way to reverse an array.

How it works:

When invoking the Reverse method from the Array class, the function modifies the original array in-place. This means that after the method call, the array content is changed and rearranged in a reversed order.


$array = 1,2,3,4,5

PowerShell reverse array order




  • Memory efficient: As the method modifies the original array, there’s no additional memory allocation for a new reversed array. This can be advantageous when dealing with very large arrays where memory efficiency is a concern.
  • Speed: Given that this method is a direct .NET function, it often exhibits faster performance, especially with large arrays, compared to other methods.


  • Original array alteration: One of the main considerations when using this method is that the original array is altered. If preserving the initial order of the array is essential, a copy of the array must be created before reversing.


This method is especially beneficial when:

  • Memory efficiency is a priority.
  • Rapid execution is required, particularly with extensive arrays.
  • The original order of the array doesn’t need preservation, or a copy has already been made.

Related resource: Using PowerShell to Test Port Connection Without Telnet

2. Using PowerShell’s pipeline and range operator to reverse an array

PowerShell’s powerful pipeline and its range operator can be combined to reverse an array without using .NET methods directly. The pipeline enables data to be passed from one cmdlet or function to another, and the indexing system offers unique ways to access array elements.

How it works:

The range [-1..-($array.Length)] essentially accesses the array elements from the last to the first. The pipeline then produces a new reversed array.


$array = 1,2,3,4,5
$reversedArray = $array[-1..-($array.Length)]

PowerShell reverse array pipeline


  • Preservation of original array: Unlike the first method, this approach doesn’t alter the initial array. This is useful when you need both the original and reversed arrays for later use.
  • Intuitive: For those familiar with PowerShell’s native features, this method might feel more intuitive and “PowerShell-native”, harnessing the power of the pipeline and array indexing.


    • Performance: For smaller arrays, the difference might be negligible, but for larger arrays, this method might be slightly slower compared to the direct .NET method.


    This method shines when:

    • You need to keep the original array unchanged.
    • You prefer using PowerShell-native features over direct .NET methods.
    • The size of the array is moderate, and utmost performance isn’t the primary concern.

    Useful tip: PowerShell Script to Copy All OneDrive Files to Another User

    3. Using a for loop to reverse an array

    The for loop provides a manual yet effective way to reverse an array in PowerShell. By iterating through the array from the end to the start, we can construct a new reversed array.

    How it works:

    We’ll initialize an empty array and, using a for loop, add elements in reverse order from the original array.


    $array = 1,2,3,4,5
    $reversedArray = @()
    for ($i = $array.Length - 1; $i -ge 0; $i--) {
    $reversedArray += $array[$i]

    Reversing an array in PowerShell using For loop


    • Clear logic: The logic is straightforward and can be easily understood even by those new to PowerShell or programming.
    • Preservation of original array: The original array remains unchanged.


      • Performance: This method might be slower for very large arrays compared to some built-in functions.


      This method is particularly useful when:

      • You prefer a more hands-on, step-by-step approach.
      • You’re working with moderate-sized arrays and want to ensure the original remains unchanged.

      Now, having understood these methods, it’s essential to choose the one that best fits your specific requirements. Whether you prioritize memory efficiency, execution speed, or preserving the original array, PowerShell offers flexibility in the approach you take.

      Performance considerations when reversing arrays in PowerShell

      As with all programming tasks, considering performance is critical, especially when dealing with large data sets. Let’s dive into how each array reversal method performs and the situations where one might be preferred over the others.

      1. Direct .NET methods

      Utilizing .NET methods directly, as with [Array]::Reverse($array), can be the most efficient way, especially for very large arrays. The reason is that .NET methods are compiled and optimized for such operations. If speed is your primary concern and the array is of considerable size, this should be your go-to method.

      Note: The in-place nature of these methods means they are memory efficient, but you also risk modifying your original data.

      2. PowerShell-native approach

      Using the range operator and the pipeline, as with $reversedArray = $array[-1..-($array.Length)], might be slightly slower than the direct .NET methods for extensive arrays. However, the difference might be negligible for smaller arrays. One might opt for this method for its readability, especially if the script is intended for other PowerShell users who might be less familiar with direct .NET methods.

      3. Memory overhead

      While the direct .NET methods modify arrays in-place and are therefore memory efficient, the PowerShell-native approach creates a new array. This can result in double the memory usage for the duration of the operation. In scenarios with constrained memory or extremely large arrays, this can be a determining factor in your method choice.

      Tips for handling large arrays:

      • If you have a vast array and are concerned about memory usage, consider using the direct .NET methods.
      • Always test your script on a smaller subset of data before running it on a large data set. This will allow you to catch potential performance or memory issues.


      While PowerShell offers the flexibility to reverse arrays using various methods, it’s essential to understand the implications of each, especially in terms of performance and memory usage. By assessing the size of your data and your specific requirements, you can make an informed decision on the best method to use.

      Nyau Wai Hoe
      Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

      Share via
      Copy link