Windows 8 introduces a new feature that allows you schedule and run Automatic Maintenance on your computer. The task when run, will carry out task like security updating and scanning, Windows software updates, Disk Defragmentation, Disk Volume Errors, System Diagnostics, etc and also includes enterprise-level Network Access Protection scanning and security standards scanning on all enterprise workstations.
In Windows 7 and earlier versions, performance and energy efficiency are impacted to a certain extent, but in Windows 8, this maintenance activity, is designed to run in the background – in a prioritized fashion – with limited user interaction and minimal impact to performance and energy efficiency.
Automatic Maintenance in Windows 8
Automatic Maintenance in Windows 8 will run daily and will combine all the background maintenance activity, like updating of Windows software, apps, attending to Action Center messages, running background maintenance tasks, etc, without negatively impacting performance and energy efficiency. It will allow the user to be to be in control of maintenance activity scheduling and configuration too. But responsiveness of the operating system to users may be reduced when maintenance activity runs while users are actively using the computer.
The process is named MSchedExe.exe, and it is located in the System32 folder. To access Automatic Maintenance in Windows 8, open Control Panel and navigate to Action Center. Here under Maintenance, click on the small arrow on the right side. This will expose Automatic Maintenance. If you find that this is not being monitored, you may click on Turn on messages about Automatic maintenance.
This will let Action Center monitor Automatic Maintenance and give you any messages via the Action Center icon in your taskbar.
If you wish to disable these messages, you can also do so by unchecking the option under Action Center > Change Action Center settings > Maintenance messages.
By default, Automatic Maintenance runs in the fully Automatic Mode, ie, your PC is intelligently scanned during idle-time and at scheduled times, without user intervention. The complete task is executed silently, and you will not even notice anything.
If your computer is busy, it will run the next time your PC is not being used.
If your computer is in Sleep mode, while on AC Power, it will be resumed, and the maintenance activity will be carried out using full system resources to execute the task as fast as it can. After completion of the task, the system will be returned to Sleep mode. You will however, have to check the Allow scheduled maintenance to wake up my computer, if it is plugged in at the scheduled time option.
If you wish to change the schedule of this Automatic Maintenance, click on Change maintenance settings, and from the drop down-menu, you will be able to set the timing.
If for some reason you wish to start the Maintenance task right away, you can do so by clicking on the Run Maintenance button. This will allow you to run this task at unscheduled times. This is referred to as the User Initiated Mode.
To stop the Maintenance job, you can simply move the mouse cursor. If it does not help, then you may click on the Stop maintenance button anytime. The task will be stopped in a few seconds.
When Automatic Maintenance is being run, you will see its indication in the taskbar icon.
Disable Automatic Maintenance in Windows 8
To disable Automatic Maintenance, you will have to open Task Scheduler > Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows > TaskScheduler.
Here right-click on Idle Maintenance, Maintenance Configurator and Regular Maintenance and select Disable.
I have not been able to find out the exact number of system tasks that it carries out and in the order they are executed – nor is there any way currently to select or de-select the maintenance tasks – but I am sure Defragmentation, checking for Microsoft software updates, security scanning, system diagnostics, malware scanning, Disk Error Checking, checking Clock or System Time, checking if history, error reports and logs are currently taking too much disk space – and addressing these issues if required, etc. must be some of the tasks being executed.
UPDATE: When asked about the tasks being run, Dave Dixon of Microsoft replied:
You can see this quickly by typing “schtasks /query” that should list all scheduled tasks for a system.
So, you may open an elevated CMD type schtasks /query and hit Enter. You will be able to see the output of the tasks.