When System Agent loses its mind

One handy way to use the Microsoft Plus pack's System Agent scheduling tool is to have it periodically run disk maintenance programs such as ScanDisk and Disk Defragmenter (both come with Windows 95). The dialogue box options within System Agent and these utilities let you set up the programs to run without further intervention by you. Unfortunately, System Agent sometimes ignores your chosen options, in which case your disk utilities will ask you for information anyway. What's going on?

Chances are you have corrupt System Agent entries in the Windows 95 Registry, that arcane storehouse of Windows configuration information. The easiest way to fix this problem is to reinstall System Agent. But doing so will destroy all your scheduled tasks, unless you first perform these five steps:

1. Turn off System Agent: Choose Start-Programs-Accessories-System Tools-System Agent. In the System Agent window, select Advanced-Stop Using System Agent; then click Yes to confirm you're turning it off.

2. Rename the sage.dat file (which stores all your scheduled tasks) sage.bak.

3. Reinstall System Agent from your original Microsoft Plus CD-ROM. Once it's installed, turn it off again, as in step one.

4. Delete the new sage.dat file created by Plus's setup, and change the name of sage.bak back to sage.dat.

5. Restart System Agent by clicking Start-Programs-Accessories-System Tools-System Agent.

To make sure that each of your scheduled tasks has been preserved, select a task and choose Program-Properties to double-check its settings.

Windows 98 has a similar utility called Scheduled Tasks. This utility seems not to have the same problems that plague System Agent - but only time will tell.