I have an automated script that pulls backups from my website to my local computer. This script could fail; once my server was down, another time I accidentally moved my script.

How do I make Windows Task Scheduler tell me with the script fails (or doesn't run/not found)?

I don't care if a prompt comes up, an email or something that appears on my desktop. I want to be notified if something goes wrong. On my server, crontab emails me about errors - which is great. I want something like that on my windows 7 local computer.


4 Answers 4


When a scheduled task fails to start, an event is written to the TaskScheduler event log:

Note: The Task Scheduler log is located at (under Administrative Tools)

 Computer Management
    System Tools
       Event Viewer
          Application and Services Logs
                   Task Scheduler

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Windows lets you trigger scheduled tasks to start when a variety of events happen, e.g.:

  • time of day
  • system startup
  • user login
  • event recorded in event log

Armed with this knowledge, you can create a scheduled task that that runs when your scheduled task fails:

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This scheduled task's action can then be set to something that sends you an alert - in your choice of methods (e.g. triggers a shutdown). You might just want it to send an e-mail:

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This is how Windows handles everything. You can see many diagnostic tasks that trigger on an event appearing in the log. e.g. when an IP address conflict is detected, an event is written to the log:

  • Log: System
  • Source: Tcpip
  • Event ID: 4198

A scheduled task triggers on this event, and runs a program to tell you about it and to fix it. Keep in mind that the event id is not specific to just one task. Any task that generates the event 203 - Action failed to start, will trigger this task.

  • 7
    What do you do if the second task fails!?!? Jun 1, 2012 at 14:06
  • 16
    Actually if the 2nd task fails it will launch the 2nd task which will fail which will launch the 2nd task which will fail which will launch the 2nd task which will... you get the idea. I just found this out the hard way =/ Oct 19, 2012 at 20:58
  • 9
    This doesn't alert you if a task fails, only if it fails to start. Not quite the same thing.
    – jwg
    Aug 20, 2013 at 15:44
  • 8
    This answer is now out-of-date. I checked Windows 10 and Windows Server 2012 R2, the send email action has been deprecated. May 4, 2017 at 5:58
  • 4
    @JohnHargrove You're now supposed to execute a powershell script. The steps involved are so complicated that it's not worth even learning.
    – Ian Boyd
    Mar 13, 2018 at 12:17

Here is my script to alert me when my backup job has a greater value than 0.

$ScheduledTaskName = "Hans\Backup"
$Result = (schtasks /query /FO LIST /V /TN $ScheduledTaskName  | findstr "Result")
$Result = $Result.substring(12)
$Code = $Result.trim()

If ($Code -gt 0) {
    $User = "[email protected]"
    $Pass = ConvertTo-SecureString -String "myPassword" -AsPlainText -Force
    $Cred = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential $User, $Pass

$From = "Alert Scheduled Task <[email protected]>"
$To = "Me Gmail <[email protected]>"
$Subject = "Scheduled task 'Backup' failed"
$Body = "Error code: $Code"
$SMTPServer = "smtp.gmail.com"
$SMTPPort = "587"

Send-MailMessage -From $From -to $To -Subject $Subject `
-Body $Body -SmtpServer $SMTPServer -port $SMTPPort -UseSsl `
-Credential $Cred
  • 1
    This is a good option as the current selected answer uses a deprecated Windows feature. Mar 13, 2018 at 2:51
  • 1
    Please keep in mind, that this is specifically crafted solution for users with Windows in english language. The argument for ´findstr´ must be changed accordingly to user's language set in Windows.
    – Eda190
    Oct 5, 2018 at 13:59
  • 1
    I think even though we send email with PowerShell now, the trigger still should be the event log just like in the accepted answer
    – basin
    Dec 1, 2021 at 14:50

Take a look at PushMon. You can create a PushMon URL that will be called at the end of your script. If your script doesn't run because the server was down or the script was moved, you will get notified. You can get notified by email, SMS, phone call, IM and Twitter. This will work for any operating system. This is like Pingdom but for scripts and background tasks.

  • 1
    If you add it to the end of your script, and the script is missing (e.g. moved), how is it supposed to get called‽
    – Bob
    Jun 1, 2012 at 14:24
  • 3
    Since the script moved and URL did not get called, then you will get an alert. Jun 1, 2012 at 20:27
  • 3
    Trying to visit their site; ironically, it seems to be down.. Jul 13, 2016 at 18:22

Edit: review Ian Boyd's answer then when you get to using the Email Action, come back here.

Since Ian Boyd's original answer was posted, the Email Action in Task Scheduler was deprecated and eventually removed. But its not difficult to create a Powershell script that will send SMTP emails and run that instead. Here's an example using Powershell and system.net.mail.smtpClient:

$SmtpClient = new-object system.net.mail.smtpClient
$MailMessage = New-Object system.net.mail.mailmessage
$SmtpClient.Host = "mail.yourdomain.com"
$SmtpClient.Port = 587
#$SmtpClient.EnableSsl = $true
$SmtpClient.Credentials = New-Object System.Net.NetworkCredential( "[email protected]", "{pw}" );
$mailmessage.from = ("[email protected]")
$mailmessage.To.add("[email protected]")
$mailmessage.Subject = “Server Alert”
$mailmessage.Body = “Event 103 or 203 detected. This indicates a Scheduled Task has failed.”

Edit the details as needed (such as "mail.yourdomain.com" and credentials "[email protected]" and "{pw}"). You might need to monkey with Port and EnableSsl.

Save this script as FailedTaskAlert.ps1 in a common folder, such as C:\Users\Public\Documents.

Now let's wire that up to a Task.

In Action tab use the Start a Program action. In Program, enter "powershell.exe" and in Add Arguments enter your ps1 file, such as "C:\Users\Public\Documents\FailedTaskAlert.ps1"

I see Hans Folk is also doing this using Send-MailMessage but I thought another cmdlet variation and an explicit explanation how the Powershell script can be wired to the Task's Action would be helpful to others.

Caveat: make sure that All Task History is enabled in the right hand Actions panel in Task Scheduler otherwise you won't get events logged. If you see the History tab with a "disabled" label, you know this feature is off.

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