Task Scheduler is one of the most useful tools for automating tasks in Windows and you just want to set it and forget. However, sometimes Task Scheduler has other plans and doesn’t work quite as you’d expect. Even worse, sometimes it doesn’t work at all. But, there are ways to troubleshoot these issues with Task Scheduler not working.
Common Task Scheduler Issues
Often, troubleshooting steps address multiple issues at once, so before diving into the steps to try, let’s look at some of the more common issues.
- Task Scheduler is not available: you see an error message that Task Scheduler didn’t start or isn’t available at all.
- Tasks don’t execute: Task Scheduler loads, but one or more tasks don’t run.
- Task Scheduler doesn’t run at startup: Task Scheduler works, but it doesn’t run at startup, so you have to start it manually instead.
- Tasks are corrupted: tasks that used to work no longer work.
- Task Scheduler stops randomly: tasks are executing properly, but Task Scheduler stops before everything is done.
- System freezes: your system freezes or crashes while Task Scheduler is running.
Often, the issues are caused by corrupted files or tasks. You may also have issues with resources or viruses. The good news is all of the above problems are fixable.
Update Your System (or Rollback an Update)
This troubleshooting tip is a two-parter. If your Windows OS isn’t up to date, it could be causing Task Scheduler not to work correctly. In this case, install the Windows update as soon as possible via “Start -> Settings -> Windows Update.”
On the other hand, Windows updates are notorious for breaking system functionality. If the Task Scheduler issues didn’t start until you installed a new update, uninstall it to see if that fixes the problem. It’s possible that the update itself isn’t the problem, but it may not have installed correctly, causing issues.
To uninstall Windows updates:
- Go to “Start -> Settings -> Windows Update.”
- Select “Update history.”
- Scroll to the bottom of the update list and select “Uninstall updates,” then follow the prompts to uninstall recent updates.
Run SFC Scan
Corrupted files, which can come from updates, viruses, and other sources, are a common cause of Task Scheduler problems. A quick way to check for errors is by scanning with the SFC (system file checker), a free utility included with Windows.
- Open Start and search for “cmd.”
- Select “Run as administrator” under Command Prompt.
- Type the following and hit Enter:
- Wait for the scan to finish. If you don’t see any error messages, great! If you do, take action to address any issues that are listed. This usually involves removing corrupted files.
Verify If Task Scheduler Is Running
If you can’t find any corrupted files, see if Task Scheduler is actually running or not. You can also start the Task Scheduler service manually if it’s not running to see if any errors occur.
- Type Win + R.
- Enter “services.msc” and hit Enter.
- Locate Task Scheduler in the list. It should say “Running” under the “Status” column and “Automatic” under the “Startup Type” column.
- If it doesn’t say those things, right-click “Task Scheduler,” then select ‘Start” to run Task Scheduler manually and see if you get any errors. If you do, address them to solve the Task Scheduler problems. You may need to enter the code or message on the Microsoft website for more details.
- If all goes well, right-click “Task Scheduler” again and select “Properties.”
- Change the startup type to “Automatic.” Press “Apply” and exit all Services.
Resetting Task Scheduler to start automatically should fix any issues if it was a one-time glitch, an update problem, or an app interfering during startup.
Remove Problematic Tasks
If all your tasks are running except one, the easiest solution is to delete that task and recreate it. But, what if you don’t know which task(s) are causing Task Scheduler not to work properly?
If an SFC scan found an issue (and even if it didn’t), try running Autoruns. It’s a free tool from Microsoft that looks in depth at all startup and autorun apps and utilities.
- Download Autoruns from Microsoft.
- Right-click the downloaded folder and select “Extract All.”
- Open the extracted folder and launch Autoruns (for 32-bit systems) or Autoruns64 (for 64-bit systems).
- Agree to the terms to continue.
- Scroll down to “Task Scheduler.” Look for any “File not found” errors. These are usually highlighted in yellow.
- Locate the problem task in Task Scheduler by going to “Start,” searching for “Task Scheduler,” and navigating to the task listed in Autoruns.
- Right-click the task folder and select “Delete Folder.”
- Restart your computer to fix any error messages you may be getting in relation to Task Scheduler, such as the Task Scheduler not working or the Task Scheduler .dll file is missing.
Repeat this process if you have multiple problematic/missing tasks.
If you’re not certain about what a task is or does, research it to see if it’s important to your system before deleting it.
Reduce the Number of Tasks
Automating tasks might make you feel like a Windows superhero. After all, the less you have to click to get things done, the better. But, your system is only capable of doing so much at once.
A rare Task Scheduler not working issue is an overabundance of tasks, which happens when you have more tasks than your system can handle scheduled at one time.
Typically, this isn’t an issue as Task Scheduler executes tasks back to back based on priority. But, when there are too many tasks, Task Scheduler runs constantly and consumes all your PC’s resources until it either freezes or crashes.
A good way to prevent this issue is to delete old tasks you no longer need, remove tasks that aren’t that useful, and stagger task start times. Even adjusting tasks by just a few minutes can prevent many problems.
Change Task Conditions
If you’ve created a new task and suddenly Task Scheduler isn’t working, it’s likely an issue with that task. While you could delete it, adjusting the task conditions may be all that’s necessary.
- Open Start, search for “Task Scheduler” and open it.
- Expand the Task Scheduler Library in the sidebar to find the task you want to edit.
- Right-click the task in the center pane and select “Properties.”
- A common conditional fix is adjusting the network type for the task, which you can do from the “Conditions” tab within Properties.
- Check “Start only if the following network connection is available” and choose “Any connection.”
- Press “OK” to apply your changes.
Clean Boot Windows
If Task Scheduler rarely has any issues, but isn’t working after trying all of the above, a clean boot of Windows may fix it. This only works if there’s some type of software conflict going on due to a new update, a new app installation, or an app just not loading correctly and interfering with other apps and utilities.
- Press Win + R.
- Type “msconfig” and hit Enter.
- Check “Hide all Microsoft Services.” Then, press “Disable All” and click “Apply” to apply your changes.
- Close the window.
- Press Win + X and select “Task Manager.”
- Select the “Startup” tab.
- Right-click any tasks/services that aren’t absolutely necessary (leave system apps and essential hardware alone) and select “Disable” to remove them from the startup process. You can re-enable them anytime by going back into Task Manager, right-clicking the task/service and choosing “Enable.”
- Restart your computer to see if Task Scheduler runs as normal.
If Task Scheduler is still not working and you’re having several other issues, it may be time to reinstall Windows after, of course, performing a full backup of all your files.
For Windows 11, use these options to download and install Windows 11. Windows 10 users, try these installation steps instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why isn't Task Scheduler finishing a task?
If Task Scheduler starts a task properly but doesn’t finish it, there are a few possible causes:
- The task is conflicting with another task or app.
- A condition is missing.
- The task is too complex and exceeds the default time limit of 72 hours.
For lengthy tasks, set the time manually and ensure your device doesn’t turn off during the process. Ideally, right-click your task in Task Scheduler and select “Run” to see where it stops, to determine if something might be missing or conflicting.
How can I check if a task is finishing successfully?
To check all your tasks at once to see if you have any that are failing:
- Press Win + X and select “Event Viewer.”
- Navigate to “Applications and Services -> Microsoft -> Windows -> Task Scheduler.”
- Open the logs to look for any errors.
You can also check individual tasks by selecting the task in Task Scheduler and opening the “History” tab in the middle pane at the bottom. This shows whether the task completed or failed.
Why won't certain tasks run in Task Scheduler no matter what I do?
The most likely problem is you don’t have administrative rights. Some tasks and apps require administrative rights to run. While you can create the task under any user account, it won’t execute without the proper privileges.
The only other possibility is that the task itself isn’t set correctly due to an issue with a file name, script, condition, or something else. Backtrack each element to discover what might be incorrect or missing.
Image credit: geralt via Pixabay All screenshots by Crystal Crowder
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