Scheduling a Task in Windows 8.1

Backing up your data is the single most important thing you can do to maintain your mental and emotional health as a computer user.  As an IT professional, I stress again and again to my customers that their backups must be a top priority and they must also be frequently tested to ensure they are working properly and consistently.

Of course, this means my own data is vulnerable as I almost never backup my own stuff.

I’m trying to mend my ways and backup the things I find most useful and I do have some pretty spiffy backup software that I use to take image snapshots of my drives.  However, I also want some simple backup jobs that just grab a file here and there so I don’t have to go and muck around with scheduling an entire recovery task.

I’ve created a couple of small batch files that grab some data here and there for my most often-used applications and I scheduled those tasks to run at midnight every night.  If you’ve never scheduled a task in Windows, it’s pretty straightforward.

 

1. Open your Control Panel
In Windows 8.1, you can just right-click on the Windows icon in the lower left corner of the screen and select “Control Panel”.

Start Menu 8.1

Control Panel

2. Select “Schedule Tasks” from the Control Panel
You’ll find this by selecting “System and Security” and looking under the “Administrative Tools” heading.

CP Schedule Tasks

3. In the Task Scheduler interface, select “Create Basic Task” and go through the wizard.
I’ve highlighted it below with a red box.

Create Basic Task Select

Give your task a name.  The description is optional.

Task Name

You have a lot of options for scheduling the task to run.  Feel free to play around with those.  I’m scheduling mine to run daily at midnight, so I’ll keep the default of “Daily”.

Task Trigger

Set your start day and start time and recurrence.  The only time you have to worry about the time zone synchronization is if your computer might be in different time zones as you travel.

Daily Trigger

The next window is a bit frustrating as Microsoft has deprecated two of the options available for scheduled tasks.  This means that those features will be unavailable in a future (probably the next) version of Windows.  So, if you need to automatically send an email or display a message, you’ll want to use PowerShell.  In my case, I don’t need those features, so I’ll keep “Start a program” selected and just click “Next”.

Start a Program

Now, browse to the script you’d like to execute on this schedule and then click “Next”.  (If you have command line arguments or options, you’ll want to specify those in the “Add arguments (optional):” field.)

Select Program

Review the task information and click “Finish”.

Finish

4. Check to make sure the task is active

Once you click “Finish”, you’ll find yourself back at the Task Scheduler interface.  Look under “Active Tasks” and make sure the task you’ve just created appears there.  If so, you’re good to go!

Check Active Task

I hope this helps someone and saves some time.  If you see anything wrong, please let me know.

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