Get More Out of Your Computer

February 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jeff Smelley - Also by this author

You can get more out of your computers without spending a dime. Windows has a feature called Scheduled Tasks that will allow you to schedule programs to run during off-peak hours. There are some important computing jobs that get put off, or just do not get done, because they take a long time to run or slow your computer to a crawl. You no longer have to put off such tasks because you don’t have time during the work day. Schedule these jobs to be run automatically when you aren’t there.

Scheduled Tasks allows you to select programs to run at any time of day, any day of the week or on a specific date. Tasks can be scheduled to be repeated on a regular basis in intervals ranging from minutes to months. The most common uses of Scheduled Tasks are for data backups, antivirus scans, disk defragmentation or diagnostic programs. By being a little creative we can expand this list considerably.

What tasks qualify to be scheduled? Any job that can run unattended can be scheduled. “Unattended” requires that no user input be needed for completion. For example: backing up data from your system to a CD, another computer, even sending your backup to another computer offsite. These types of jobs can be scheduled during off-peak hours when your computer is under utilized.

Scheduled Tasks is particularly helpful if you have difficulty remembering to perform a particular function. This is where the creative use comes to play. Suppose you have a time-sensitive task that must be performed, but due to your busy schedule, you are concerned you may forget it. Schedule the task to run at an appropriate time.

Setting up a scheduled task is easy.  If you use Windows XP, (go to Windows Help for other versions the steps are as follows:

1.   First, go to your Start Menu, and select All Programs. Then, click Accessories, then System Tools and finally Scheduled Tasks. A window will appear and you will click on Add Scheduled Task, which will start a wizard to help you through the process.

2.   The wizard will prompt you with an alphabetic list of programs. Select one of these or click browse to find the program you want.

3.   Once you have selected the program to schedule, you will be asked to choose a schedule (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, one time only etc.) for the task. Depending upon the time interval you select, Scheduled Tasks will prompt for more detailed scheduling information (i.e. for monthly repetitive tasks, which months and which day of the month).

4.   Now you will be required to provide a user name and password. You must have a password assigned to the user name selected; otherwise Scheduled Tasks will not run your program as desired. (Microsoft will only warn you about password requirements if your logon username is password protected)

Additional settings can be selected to further refine your schedule, such as:

  • Only run the task if you are logged onto your system.
  • Only start the task if your computer has been idle for a specified amount of time.
  • Stop the task if it has been running for more than a specified amount of time.
  • Wake the computer to run the task (if hibernating is turned on).

Using Scheduled Tasks can enhance your work experience and improve your performance without spending a dime.

Vol 4, Issue 12

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