Home > Uncategorized > The Task Scheduler is the new Startup folder

The Task Scheduler is the new Startup folder

In earlier versions of Windows the way to get a program to run at the time the user logs in, is to place a shortcut in the startup folder of the user. This works mostly, but it’s annoying when some program places itself in the hidden all user startup folder and you want to remove it. The other way is a program will create an entry that can be configured in msconfig (I don’t know the details of this).

With my brand new Windows 7 64-bit Asus CG, four programs would start up shortly after anyone logged in. This is fine for the administrator account, but for the standard users it’s really annoying because the four programs requested UAC. The four programs are AsLoader.exe AIManager.exe FourEngine.exe and UpdateChecker.exe. All of them are for Asus. AsLoader is something that deals with graphics enhancements, AIManager is a little app that runs on the desktop to manager the computer, FourEngine is something that monitors the motherboard temperature and power consumption and UpdateChecker is a SourceFourge project which Asus is using to check for system updates.

So three of these are useful for when anyone logs into the computer. But since they don’t interact with the desktop, they should honestly be services. For some reason they are not.

I searched all of the startup folders, msconfig, and the registry. I couldn’t find what was causing these programs to start up when a user logged in. With all of the usual suspects depleted I didn’t know what to do. I uninstalled AIManager because it doesn’t seem that useful, but I wanted to find someway to still have the other three, but not get prompted. At my wits end I installed ProcessExplorer and looked at the properties of one of the programs from ProcessExplorer. It said that the parent process was taskeng.exe. I checked the Windows 7 task scheduler and sure enough, there they were. The three remaining were listed as scheduled to run when a user logs in.

There are lots of options on how to run scheduled tasks. So I changed UpdateChecker to only run when I log in as my administrator account (which is next to never) and the other two to run as Local Service (they don’t interact with the desktop) when any user logs in. Now there are no more annoying UAC pop ups. Asus, why didn’t you do this in the first place?

I like the idea of using the Task Scheduler for this type of work. Programs that load from the startup directory tend to load right when the system is under load. These four seemed to pop up a little after the rest of the startup programs loaded (at the moment all I have Windows Live Messenger), so they could be stressing the system slightly less than other programs. But the nice thing is that you can configure the program to run a few minutes after log in. So if there’s a non mission critical program (think Skype) that I want to run, but I don’t want loading when the system is under load I can schedule it to run a few minutes after log in.

Now the problem is that executables started from Task Scheduler aren’t that discoverable as to their launching location. I was lucky that Asus make an Asus directory in the scheduler. Should this become common place the average user is going to need to know how these programs are getting launched.

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