Workstation maintenance the easy way
Dont leave workstation optimization to chance. Use Windows 2000s automated scheduling capabilities to make sure your workstations are up to speed.
It often seems that many of the calls help desks receive from users are related to poor system performance or other issues that could be avoided by performing the occasional bit of routine maintenance. However, I don't personally know a single administrator who has the time to go to every workstation and optimize it on a regular basis. Such a task would be a very time-consuming chore in a small organization, and would be nearly impossible in a large organization. Fortunately, there are ways to make the system perform these tasks for you. In this article, I'll discuss some methods of automating Windows 2000 maintenance.
The Task SchedulerThe secret to automating common tasks is the Task Scheduler. The Task Scheduler is a small program that's built into Windows 2000. It allows you to run a program or a script at a certain time. You can set up Task scheduler to run a program or script once, or on a regular basis.
Automating Common TasksAfter you click the Finish button, you'll see the task's properties sheet. You can make changes to the task's schedule or settings through the respective tabs. However, the main tab you're interested in right now is the Task tab. The Task tab contains a command line, the name of the startup directory, and the name of the account that will be running the task. Normally, you won't have to modify the startup directory or the account name, but it's nice to know they're there, just in case. The command line is what you'll have to change. The changes that you make will really depend on the application you're running and the options you want to use. For example, let's look at the Backup program I discussed earlier. As I mentioned, if you run it as is, Task Scheduler will merely open the Backup program. If you want it to do more, look at the filename and path of the Backup program (or any program that you're using). Next, open a command prompt window and navigate to the program's path. Enter the executable followed by a question mark. For example, to check out the Backup program, you'd enter the following commands: C:
When you do, you'll see a list of command-line switches that you can use to perform various tasks from the command line. For example, in the case of the Backup program, you could specify the /J parameter followed by the name of the Backup job that you want to run. Almost any built-in Windows 2000 program will contain similar options. Now that you know how to schedule a task, the question remains, what types of tasks should you schedule? Of course, that will depend on your particular environment. However, many administrators like to schedule such tasks as antivirus updates and disk defragmentations. You may even schedule scripts to run and clean unused temporary files from your hard disk. In part 2, I'll discuss some of the more common tasks that that you can schedule and provide some more hints about how to automate difficult applications. // Brien M. Posey is an MCSE who works as a freelance writer and as the Director of Information Systems for a national chain of health care facilities. His past experience includes working as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. Because of the extremely high volume of e-mail that Brien receives, it's impossible for him to respond to every message, although he does read them all.