I have Retrospect on my laptop which has a Maxtor One Touch external drive
to do backups. The problem is that if I leave Outlook open the scheduled
nightly backup erases the duplicated pst file on the external drive as it
cannot copy the open file. Is there some way to run a scheduled job prior to my
scheduled backup to close Outlook. I could use “kill” but that is a bit brutal
if Outlook happens to be running at the time. I may end up with a corrupt pst
I had exactly the same problem. I typically leave Outlook and some
other programs running. They lock their files while they’re running, so those
files can’t be backed up or copied.
I had a relatively good solution, but in researching this question I found
an even better one.
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We’re going to need two things: the ability to schedule a program to run at
a specific time, and a program that we can run that will close another
The first is easy. The “Scheduled Tasks” applet in Control Panel is exactly
what we need.
The second took a little hunting, but I found a very useful little freeware
utility NirCmd. NirCmd is actually a
multi-purpose command line tool … a Swiss Army Knife of command line tools,
as it can do many, many things.
The ‘thing’ we’ll want it to do is close Outlook. After downloading NirCmd,
in a Windows command shell, type the following:
nircmd.exe closeprocess outlook.exe
If Outlook was running, it should have been closed. The only exception is if
Outlook needed to ask you a question on the way out. For example if you were
composing a message, any attempt to close Outlook will result in a message “Do
you want to save changes?”. Outlook will wait patiently for you to respond, and
your backup will once again fail. I’m not aware of a truly safe alternative.
NirCmd can, in fact, kill the process instead of just closing it, but as you
point out, you run a small risk of PST corruption in that case.
So, to put this all together, we’ll use the Scheduled Task Wizard to create
the auto-close task.
In Control Panel, Scheduled Tasks, hit
Add Scheduled Task.
Ignore the list, and click on Browse. Locate, and select,
On the next page of the wizard, give it an appropriate name, and check
On the next page, pick an appropriate time – I would suggest maybe 10
minutes before your backup is scheduled to run.
On the next page enter the appropriate user account and password that this
program would be run as – typically for this purpose we’d use the same account
that you’re logged in as.
On the last page of the wizard check Open advanced properties for
this task…, since we’re not quite done.
Change the Run entry, adding the parameters
closeprocess outlook.exe. It should now look something like
(Obviously the location of nircmd.exe will be different for you – you’ll
typically place nircmd in the Windows directory, or some other directory on
Click OK, and you’re done.
You can actually test this new scheduled job by locating it in
Control Panel, Scheduled Tasks, right
clicking on it, and selecting Run. If Outlook was running, it
If you’re a command-line junkie like I am, NirCmd is worth a look. It
appears to have many useful features.