Schedule a Task in Windows

We keep being reminded to do things to keep our computers in tip top shape (backup our data, defrag the drives, update our virus programs, etc.) but some just don’t seem to get around to doing these things on a regular basis. This is where Task Scheduler, available with Windows, can help you out with keeping on top of these maintenance tasks.

Task Scheduler

Task Scheduler is a free application included with Windows. With Task Scheduler you can schedule any program, document or script to run at anytime your computer is turned on. Task Scheduler starts each time you turn your Windows machine on and runs in the background while the machine is on. A scheduled task will automatically start, if your computer is on (Yes, I have bolded this phrase twice now because some do not understand that when you schedule a task in Windows the computer must be on for the task to be completed).

Why Schedule a Task in Windows?

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are certain tasks that need to be done on a regular basis to keep your computer running smoothly and protect your data.

One of the most important tasks to schedule (or train yourself to do it religously) is backing up your data. You can use backup software, which should add a Scheduled Task if set up properly, but if you don’t have a specific piece of software available to do this, Windows does come with a backup application.

Your anti virus definition updates and scans are other important tasks to schedule. Again, your chosen software may automatically set this up for you, if set up properly.

If you are using a free program for backup, anti virus or spyware removal, these might not have an included function to add itself as a scheduled task.

Schedule Task

To schedule a task in Windows you need to first access Scheduled Tasks. Depending on how your computer is set up, Scheduled Tasks can be accessed via:

  • My Computer Icon on the Desktop
    1. Double left click the My Computer icon on you desktop.
    2. Look under the Other section for Control Panel, double left click Control Panel.
    3. Double click the Scheduled Tasks icon in the Control Panel screen.
  • Settings Menu
    1. Left click Start in the bottom left of your desktop screen.
    2. Left click Settings from the menu that appears.
    3. Left click Control Panel from the next menu that appears.
    4. Double left click Scheduled Tasks in the Control Panel screen.
  • Programs Menu
    1. Left click Start in the bottom left of your desktop screen.
    2. Left click All Programs.
    3. Left click Accessories in the list that appears.
    4. Left click System Tools under the Accessories menu.
    5. Left click Scheduled Tasks in the System Tools menu.

Now you should be in Scheduled Tasks. Some of your existing programs may have already added a scheduled task to the list that appears under Add Scheduled Task.

Add Scheduled Task

  1. Double left click Add Scheduled Task.

    The Scheduled Task Wizard screen appears.

  2. Left click Next to continue.

    It may appear your machine has frozen because the next screen takes a minute or so to appear. This is because a list is being compiled of the to programs installed on your computer.

Next there are two ways to continue, schedule a program to run or schedule something else to run.

  • Schedule an Existing Program to Run
    1. Left click the program you wish to schedule from the list that appears.
    2. Left click Next to continue.
  • Schedule Something Not Listed in the Program List
    1. Left click Browse.
    2. Navigate to the folder and file (program, script or document) you wish to schedule the task for.
    3. Left click Open.

Next, you give the task a name and choose when to run the task.

  1. Name the scheduled task.

    Pick a name that will make sense to you later when you want to check the list or make any changes.

  2. Choose when to run the scheduled task.

    There are a number of choices as to when you would like to run the task:

    • Daily – once a day
    • Weekly – once a week
    • Monthly – once a month
    • One time only
    • When computer starts – this before a user is logged in
    • When I log in – runs once you have logged into your computer
  3. Left click Next to continue.
  4. Specify the day and time to run the scheduled task.

    Remember: Pick a day and time of day that the computer will be on!

    If the task can run on it’s own, without your interaction, it can be scheduled while you are having your lunch or dinner.

  5. Left click Next to continue once you have made your time selections.
  6. Name and password of the user associated with the scheduled task.

    You will need to enter the name and password of the user who is authorized to run the task.

    The user associated with the task will need to have the permissions to run the program.

    The default setup is the name of the user currently logged onto the computer.

  7. Left click Next to continue.
  8. Left click Finsih to complete scheduling the task.

Now that you know how to schedule a task in Windows, there’s no excuse for not making sure that all your maintenance tasks (defrag, disk clean up, update anti virus definitions, etc.) are done and all your data is backed up.

Scheduling Task in Windows Further Reading

Advanced Options – click the link at the top of the page to skip down to the Advance Options available when scheduling a task in Windows.

Remove Scheduled Tasks – click the Remove scheduled task link at the top of the page to view the instructions for removing a scheduled task.

Changes to Scheduled Task – on the same page as above, there are also instructions for:

  • Stopping and pausing scheduled tasks
  • Changing settings for scheduled tasks
  • Opening scheduled tasks to modify them

Task Scheduler – a more indepth look at Windows Task Scheduler

Basic Computer Skills Related Posts

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6 Responses to “ Schedule a Task in Windows ”

  1. [...] have my anti virus software scan scheduled to run on it’s own every Friday night automatically. You do have to have the computer on for this [...]

  2. Medisoft Software says:

    This type of instruction, in the step by step format is super easy to follow and helpful…Thanks so much for the post it was super helpful.

  3. lytec says:

    These instructions certainly make it easier to schedule a specific task. Thanks for the awesome posting. I really appreciate it.

  4. GoGoHamster says:

    Awesome simple instructions.

    I came to your site looking for info about why a scheduled task should error when scheduled, but start OK when I verify the settings and re-apply them and do a run now.

    The job is to collect remote backup files by ftp.

    It is like scheduler has an intermittent temperamental fault.

    Running Vista Home Premium.

  5. GoGoHamster,
    Do you have your FTP software set to remember login information? Not a particularlly secure habit but guess you would have to do that if you want to schedule the task(s).

    When you said “verify the settings” do you have to verify settings in the FTP program or Task Scheduler?

  6. Harry @ Top Spyware Remover says:

    Scheduling tasks in windows in cool because for a busy person like me, it maximises my time to become productive.

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