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Scheduling Tasks

The Task Scheduler enables you to schedule and automate the launching of applications or utilities on your server. For example, you could schedule the Disk Defragmenter to run at a particular time (perhaps late at night) or you could back up the system. Scheduling tasks allows you to automate the running of software, particularly in cases where you want to run tools when the server use is at a bare minimum.

Each task that you create must have a trigger—say, a certain day of the week and a time, and then an action, such as the running of Windows Server Backup. Tasks can also be configured with conditions. A condition must be met for the trigger to actually run the task. For example, you might want the trigger to be a certain time of day and the condition could be that the server must be idle for a certain amount of time. So, when the condition is met, the trigger can start the task.

The Windows Server 2008 Task Scheduler actually makes it very easy for you to create schedule tasks. Tasks that require only a trigger and an action can be created with the Create Basic Task Wizard. More complex tasks that also require a condition (or conditions) can be created in the Create Task dialog box.

By the Way

The Task Scheduler also enables you to view the status of scheduled tasks. They can be viewed by timeframe, such as last 24 hours or last 7 days. Clicking a particular task in the task list enables you to see whether the task ran successfully and when the task began and finished.

To schedule a task using the Task Scheduler’s Create Basic Task Wizard, follow these steps:

1. In the Control Panel, click the System and Maintenance link.

2. In the System and Maintenance window, click the Schedule Tasks link under the Administrative Tools heading. The Task Scheduler opens (see Figure 3.8).

Figure 3.8. The Task Scheduler enables you to configure tasks that will be carried out automatically.

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3. To create a new task with the Create Basic Task Wizard, click Create Basic Task in the Actions pane. The Create Basic Task Wizard opens.

4. Type a name and a description (optional) for the task. Then click Next.

5. On the Task Trigger screen, select a timeframe for the task, such as Daily or Weekly, or select an event such as When the Computer Starts or When I Log On. Then click Next.

6. If you choose a timeframe such as daily or weekly, the next screen asks you to specify other parameters for the task such as time, day, and recurrence (every day, every two days, and so on). Click Next. If you chose a task trigger such as when the computer starts or when you log on, you go immediately to the Action screen (step 7).

7. The next screen asks you to specify the action that the task will complete, such as start a program, send an email, or display a message. In many cases you will select Start a Program (see Figure 3.9) and then click Next.

Figure 3.9. Specify the action for the task.

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7. On the next screen, browse for the program (or script) that you want the task to start. You can also add optional arguments to this screen and then click Next.

8. The last wizard screen shows the name, description, trigger, and action for the new task. Click Finish.

To view your new task, click the Task Scheduler Library icon in the left pane of the Task Scheduler. Select the task you have created and you can use the tabs such as General, Triggers, Actions, and Conditions to review the parameters for the task. You can also edit any of the parameters on the various tabs. To delete a task, select the task and then press the Delete key. Click Yes to confirm the deletion.

You will find when you open the Task Scheduler Library that many default tasks are arranged in folders such as Active Directory Rights Management, Defrag, and Server Manager. You can edit any of these tasks or add additional tasks to the folders (or create your own folders) in the library.

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