Windows 8 is the fastest Microsoft Operating system yet and not only its fast just because it can boot under 2 second, but it has some incredible feature which allows you to perform tasks like Refresh to fix any broken component, Reset to bring back your OS to a freshly installed state, but also run PC maintenance without affecting user performance.
What does PC Maintenance mean in broader term?
Disk Fragmentation, Running Anti Virus Scan, Cleaning up temporary files, running Windows Update Manually, security scans etc. The name can be many and we had been doing it all manually one after the other or using verity or third party tools.
Windows 8 brings in a new feature, Automatic Maintenance, which allows to run all these task in batch and perform it for you. The best part, it does not impact user’s performance and honour rules.
Where to find Automatic Maintenance?
- Click on the little flag on the system tray, also called as Action Centre, and you will see a Maintenance section.
- Open it and there is a new section called as Automatic Maintenance, which is already set to run automatically with details of when it ran last and pointers to errors, if any.
What is exactly happening ?
So now that I have told you where to find it, lets take a moment to understand what actually goes on into the heart of this incredible process. If you see the above image, it lists down some important process like File History Backup, Drive Status, Device Software etc. This clearly indicates that Automatic Maintenance combines all the background processes, including the third part software and apps to include themselves in the process.
Did I say third party Apps ? Yes you read it right. If you read the detailed documentation of Windows 8 Automatic Maintenance, its clearly said that it is possible that third-party developers add their maintenance activity to Windows and get a lot of things done for their app without negatively impacting performance and energy efficiency. This feature in fact is a boon to Enterprise Admins to schedule all the Windows 8 PC when employees are off work.
Lets View what’s happening :
The best way to find out the details is to first run it and then launch the task manager . When you are on the task manager, switch to Processes tab and sort by CPU or Disk usage.
You will see that Windows 8 fires one by one all necessary tasks like Disk Defragmenter to Optimize Drives, Run the Antimalware Service executable, run the COM Surrogate Process, Scripted Diagnostics Native Host process etc. In case any of the third party app has included themselves here, you should be able to view them too.
The best part of this system is that even if you do something on your computer, you will feel minimum or no slowness in the computer because of the design it follows. This happens in case of manual process. However, when you interrupt the pc during automatic schedule, it will stop instantly and resume back after a period or 2 minutes of idleness.
In case of critical updates, user will be notified and asked to manually perform the process, if and only if the automatic task was interrupted too many times to get it done.
It also takes care when you are mobile i.e. on Laptop Battery. The automatic maintenance is not triggered and can run when you switch to AC power.
How to schedule Automatic Maintenance :
I am sure you must have figured out by now, but for the sake of reference, at the same Action Centre section, look for an option which says Change Maintenance Settings. This only allows you to change the time and nothing else. Though I am not sure, but its possible that some apps should be able to include their settings here.
How developers can leverage Automatic Maintenance ?
Windows uses a built-in command-line tool, schtasks.exe, which can be used to include an app into the process using XML or C Language. The prompt is something like
Schtasks.exe /create /tn <task name> /xml <text file name>.Find sample code or C and XML scheme at this page.
Its good to see Windows 8 having this feature and like always, I ask for more. I would have loved if more granular control was given for admin users i.e. individual control over antivirus settings, disk setting etc.