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XP Pro: Schedule a Program to Run Once at a Specific Time Using schtasks

Windows XP Professional has a command line utility that allows users to schedule the execution of tasks. The schtasks utility has a wide variety of options. This tutorial provides a simple example of scheduling a task to run once in the future.

The minimum parameters required to run a task once are /sc (schedule), /tr (task to run), /st (start time), and /tn (unique task name). This syntax will run the task as the current user. To run the defrag program on the C: drive at 11 PM, use this command:

schtasks /create /sc once /st 23:00:00 /tn cdefrag /tr "defrag c:"

The schedule (/sc once) indicates that the task will only be executed once. The start time (/st 23:00:00) determines the time (HH:MM:SS) that the task will start in the 24 hour format. The task name (/th cdefrag) must be a unique name that can be used to reference the scheduled task later. The task to run (/tr “defrag c:”) specifies the command and parameters to run. Enclosing the task to run in quotes is required for tasks with options.

When you run the command above, it will tell which user the task will run under (the current user) and will prompt for that user’s password. It is possible to place the password in the command (using /rp password). However, doing so may be a security risk.

If you want to run the task as another user, specify the username with the /ru username command option.

By default, the task will execute within the next 24 hours at the next occurance of the start time. To run the command at the specified time on a different date, use the /sd mm/dd/yyyy option.

To view the scheduled events, simply run schtasks with no options.

Quinn McHenry
Quinn McHenry
Quinn was one of the original co-founders of Tech-Recipes. He is currently crafting iOS applications as a senior developer at Small Planet Digital in Brooklyn, New York.


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