Best Free Software
www.z-cron.com What you need: Windows 7, 8.1 or 10
‘Z-cron’ would make a great name for a sci-fi villain – but actually this free program is more of a virtual servant. It’s a versatile alternative to Windows Task Scheduler, able to carry around 50 boring and repetitive PC tasks according to your chosen schedule. For example, you could set it to create a system restore point once a week, empty the Recycle Bin every evening and take your PC’S temperature every morning. You can also set a specific task to run automatically when you launch Z-cron.
Z-cron has been around for a few years, but version 5.0 is the first new release for Windows 10. It comes with several new preset actions (‘Tools’), including connecting to a VPN (and disconnecting), playing a folder of MP3 audio files on a loop, and creating shadow copies of files and folders. You can also create your own tasks (‘Cronjobs’) from scratch, and add your own batch files if you want.
The program works well but its interface is not particularly easy to use. At first, all you see is an empty list of Planned Tasks. Those 50 tasks are buried behind a Tools button on the window that opens when you click Tasks – and, oddly, you have to click a line in the list before you can choose a task to fill it. I strongly recommend reading the Help file first. Z-cron is straightforward, eventually – it just hides it well.
To get it, click Download, then ‘zcron.zip’, and then extract the ZIP. Run the installer (‘zcron.exe’) as administrator. There are no unwanted extras. After clicking Finish you’ll see the message ‘Program start wasn’t configured yet!’. Click OK to clear it or set the program to run at startup (see below).
1 The Planned Tasks list is empty at first. This is where all your selected tasks will appear. To create a new one, click an empty row in the list, then click the Task button.
2 Clicking Task opens the new Settings Job window. To configure one of 50 preset tasks, click Tools, then browse the list. Select one, then click OK.
3 To tell Z-cron when to activate the task and how often, click Scheduler then choose time settings. The Run As Settings tab lets you set a task for certain users only.
4 To see and edit all tasks due to run today, click Today. To set Z-cron to run at startup, click Program, then Start, and then tick ‘Run at system startup’.