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Cron For Windows

Marc Escher ( ) gave a great presentation at CFUnited on automation: batch files, Ant, launchers and Jetty. One thing that came up during the discussion was a replacement for Scheduled Tasks on Windows which I (and apparently others) have found unreliable.

Since I’m a Linux geek I’m familiar with cron on Linux and went looking for a version for Windows.

Cron enables users to schedule jobs (commands or shell scripts) to run automatically at a certain time or date.

Turns out there are quite a few cron solutions available on Windows.  Most of them however were commercial solutions.  After a bit of digging I found nnCron ( ).  nnCron has a commercial version but they offer a free “lite” version which covered the basic features I needed:

nnCron LITE is a small, but full-featured scheduler that can start applications and open documents at a specified time or with specified frequency. nnCron LITE is a perfect freeware Windows clone of a well-known UNIX scheduler Cron (including all the useful Anacron features).

Here are a few of the features of nnCron LITE:

  • it can be started as a system service or as a regular standalone application
  • it understands cron table format (Unix) and is managed with easy-to-edit text crontab files that are fully compatible with Unix crontabs
  • it can set and use environment variables
  • it can run applications authorized as currently logged user

So far I’ve been using it to schedule a backup task I have for our JIRA and Confluence installs using SyncBack.  And I have a few system utilities setup (defrag, etc) that run occasionally.  Unlike Scheduled Task I’ve never had an issue with the nnCron service failing.