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August 31, 1998

Utility can be set to run programs when you shut down Windows

There are many tasks that you may want to run in Windows at a certain time. For example, you might want to automatically log off a network connection, synchronize your desktop PC with a laptop or palmtop, or back up your entire system -- but only at a certain time of day, such as late at night.

For this purpose, Windows 98 provides Scheduled Tasks, a tool that can run programs daily, weekly, or monthly on a schedule that you choose. Oddly, though, Scheduled Tasks can't be used to schedule a program at the time when you're most likely not to be using your system: when you're quitting for the day and are shutting down.

Usually, shutting down means you won't be needing your computer until the next morning. It is a perfect time to run lengthy processes, but Scheduled Tasks can't help you. You can always start these kinds of tasks manually. But what are computers for if not to automatically handle these things?

Fortunately, there's WrapUp-98, a completely updated version of a shareware tool that runs on Windows NT 4.0 and 3.51, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows for Workgroups 3.11.

WrapUp is nothing if not configurable. When you shut down Windows, WrapUp defaults to asking you if you wish to close all programs and run the items in WrapUp's ShutDown folder. However, you can easily configure it to close all programs and run the items without asking for confirmation. Or it can run your ShutDown items without closing any applications or exiting Windows at all. Finally, you can configure WrapUp so its operations are totally transparent to the user.

We shouldn't really need a program such as WrapUp. I reported, back in 1994, a suggestion by reader Brian Wells that Windows support a ShutDown folder just like its StartUp folder. Because Microsoft didn't respond to that hint, developer Gary Tessler accepted the challenge and created such a solution himself. I first reported on WrapUp, Version 1.0 for Windows 3.1, in January 1995.

One of WrapUp's most important uses is to automate your process for backups. I often program my PC to transmit hundreds of faxes or update subscriptions to Web sites all night. I don't want a backup to start in the middle of that. Doing a backup when I shut down Windows, however, is a great way to make it happen when I know no other programs are using my PC. This is especially helpful with Win98, which has a backup program that is superior to the one in Win95. The Win98 backup application, developed by Seagate Software (, allows you to select individual folders and subfolders to back up, choose from full, differential, or incremental backups, and more.

Backup is by no means the most imaginative use of WrapUp, however. Tessler suggests many other uses, such as downloading stock prices for your favorite analysis program or executing Visual Basic or batch routines.

Making this happen with WrapUp is as easy as dragging an icon into WrapUp's ShutDown folder. If you ever want to shut down Windows and not have the ShutDown folder execute (for example, when you just want to restart Windows), it's a simple matter to cancel WrapUp and normally shut down.

WrapUp is available in a registered version at a cost of $39 plus shipping and tax. It's produced by Tessler's Nifty Tools, P.O. Box 1791, San Ramon, CA 94583; (925) 275-9353. You can order it from

Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows 98 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to He regrets that he cannot answer individual questions.

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