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Scheduled Tasks: Are There Enough Hours in the Day?

As computing has advanced over the years, system administrators and programmers alike have done all they can to automate their own jobs. It was a necessary action; the ratio of trained IT personnel to employees has always been staggeringly overbalanced in favor of the employees, and there are never enough hours in the day for IT personnel to accomplish all that’s being demanded of them. Hence, scheduling was invented; tasks that were previously manually performed could now be scheduled to run during off-hours.

Years ago when scheduling came about, this was a workable solution. Most enterprises ran a normal 9 to 5 day, so scheduling a task to run at midnight would not interfere with users on the system. The first task to be scheduled was probably defragmentation, but it was closely followed by others such as backups and anti-virus scans.

As they always do, times have changed, and the computing landscape has radically altered. File sizes and disk capacities have grown remarkably, meaning that scheduled tasks addressing disks and files take far longer to run. Thanks to the web, business has become globalized and many enterprises–and their servers–are running 24X7, which means that the downtime previously used to accomplish these scheduled tasks no longer exists for many, and such scheduled processes inevitably interfere with users. Combine these 2 issues and it can be seen that ideal times to run them has all but disappeared.

Along with the disappearing downtime, the number of tasks to schedule has also grown remarkably, to the point that a given site may now be attempting to schedule defragmentation, antivirus scans, malware scans, backups and the pushing out of updates–all in a single night. How can this possibly be done? The answer: it can’t, yet it must be. The inevitable effect is that users are going to be affected no matter what. Both IT personnel and company employees have just had to grin and bear it.

At least for one of these tasks, defragmentation, a completely automatic, non-invasive technology has finally been developed. Requiring no scheduling, this technology utilizes only idle resources whenever they are available. Users are never negatively affected, and the result is volumes which are constantly kept in an optimum state and at peak performance.

Hopefully sooner than later, the remainder of these tasks will catch up and be fully automated as well. When that happens, computing will have truly arrived in the 21st century.

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