Tag Archives: task scheduler

Setup Dropbox to sync on a schedule – Mac version

Currently I am living in a part of rural Virginia, where the only option for internet is ViaSat internet satellite.  The service has its ups and downs, but the worst part are the data caps, and they are cell phone low.  In fact the highest plan I can buy is 25GB of data transfer and that is about $140 per month.

One thing that I really miss is the ability to have my Dropbox synced at all times.  The data transfers can be high if I am putting videos and photos into my Dropbox.  Dropbox’s application currently allows you to throttle the bandwidth, but it’s either on or off…

ViaSat does offer something nice…  every morning from Midnight to 5AM they shut off the meters allowing unlimited usage.  I decided to leverage this and make Dropbox sync only during this free window.

Doing this on a MAC boils down to just two things.

1.  Create applications to launch and stop dropbox.
2.  Schedule a daily task to START Dropbox.app at 12AM and to STOP Dropbox.app at 5AM.

 

Create applications to launch and stop dropbox

On the Mac there is an awesome program called Automator that lets mere mortals create easy programs that can do various things.  I highly recommend looking into this capability.  It is really handy.  For this problem, we will use automator to both Launch and kill the dropbox app at the times we want.

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 09.50.52

1.1. First lets open Automator,  which is in the system’s Application folder.

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 09.52.33

1.2. Then click “New Document” to begin a new Automator document.

Select "Application"

1.3. Select “Application” to create a new application. (This first one will be setup to open the dropbox app)

 

Select Utilities on the left. Drag the "Start Application" task into the workflow pane on the right so it looks like this.

1.4. Select Utilities on the left.
1.5. Drag the “Start  Launch Application” task into the workflow pane on the right so it looks like this.

Save the new application into the system's Applications folder. I named it "Start Dropbox"

1.6. Save the new application into the system’s Applications folder.
I named it “Start Dropbox”

 

Perform a similar process to create another Automator app to "Quit Application." Make sure to assign the dropbox.app in the dropdown box, and also uncheck the save confirmation.

1.7. Perform a similar process to create another Automator app to “Quit Application.” Make sure to assign the dropbox.app in the dropdown box, and also uncheck the “ask to save changes” confirmation.

You should now have two automator apps that are in your applications folder.

1.8. You should now have two automator apps that are in your applications folder.

Next we will schedule these applications (a.k.a. workflows, scripts, etc.) to run automatically in iCal

 

Create a new Event in iCal on the first day you want this application to run. Setup to start at 00:00 i.e. midnight. Under alerts, setup a custom alert to open a file. Choose the Start dropbox app we made. Alert timing should be "At time of event" to make sure this fires off at the time we want.

2.1 Create a new Event in iCal on the first day you want this application to run.
2.2 Setup to start at 00:00 i.e. midnight.
2.3 Under alerts, setup a custom alert to open a file. Choose the Start dropbox app we made.
2.4 Alert timing should be “At time of event” to make sure this fires off at the time we want.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.29.36

2.5 Set this event to repeat every day.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.40.45

2.6 Repeat 2.1 through 2.5 to setup an event to “Quit Dropbox” at 5am (or whatever time you want)

You should end up with two new daily events on your calendar.

You should end up with two new daily events on your calendar.

 

One more tip. I put both of these events on a new "Automator" calendar, so I can uncheck it so it doesn't clutter up my iCal.

One more tip. I put both of these events on a new “Automator” calendar, so I can uncheck it so it doesn’t clutter up my iCal.

Setup Dropbox to sync on a schedule

click here for the Mac version

Currently I am living in a part of rural Virginia, where the only option for internet is ViaSat internet satellite.  The service has its ups and downs, but the worst part are the data caps, and they are cell phone low.  In fact the highest plan I can buy is 25GB of data transfer and that is about $140 per month.

One thing that I really miss is the ability to have my Dropbox synced at all times.  The data transfers can be high if I am putting videos and photos into my Dropbox.  Dropbox’s application currently allows you to throttle the bandwidth, but it’s either on or off…

ViaSat does offer something nice…  every morning from Midnight to 5AM they shut off the meters allowing unlimited usage.  I decided to leverage this and make Dropbox sync only during this free window.

Doing this boils down to three things.

1.  Find the Windows Task Scheduler.
2.  Schedule a daily task to START Dropbox.exe at 12AM.
3.  Schedule a daily task to STOP Dropbox.exe at 5AM.

1. Find the Windows Task Scheduler

Click into Administrative tools in the control panel

1.1 Click into Administrative tools in the control panel

Here it is. The elusive task scheduler (well not really... there are a bunch of ways to find it.)

1.2 Here it is. The elusive task scheduler (well not really… there are a bunch of ways to find it.)

 

2. Schedule a daily task to START Dropbox.exe at 12AM.

2.1 Click Create task to ummm, create a new schedule task.

2.1 Click Create task to ummm, create a new schedule task.

1. Name the Task. 2. Set to run whether the user is logged on or not.

2.2. Name the Task.
2.3  Set to run whether the user is logged on or not.

1. Click button to create a new trigger 2. Set New trigger Settings to "Daily" with a start time of 12:00AM since I want it to trigger on every morning at Midnight.

2.4  Click button to create a new trigger
2.5  Set New trigger Settings to “Daily” with a start time of 12:00 AM since I want it to trigger on every morning at Midnight.

1. Click button to create a new Action. 2. Browse to the program to launch (in this case for me its Dropbox.exe)

2.6  Click button to create a new Action.
2.7  Browse to the program to launch (in this case for me its Dropbox.exe)

3. Schedule a daily task to STOP Dropbox.exe at 5AM.

Since the scheduler only “Starts” programs, this requires us to write a tiny batch file that when started will kill Dropbox.exe.

Place the following

TASKKILL /F /IM "Dropbox.exe"

into a file named whatever your want .bat, in my case I called it ‘stopdropbox.bat’

Simple batch file to kill the Dropbox.exe process.

Simple batch file to kill the Dropbox.exe process.

Now lets just make another task schedule to Stop Dropbox.

Stop Drop Box Scheduled Task General Tab

Just like above, name this something and set it to run even when the user isn’t logged in.

Stop Drop Box Scheduled Task TriggerTab

Same as above except we are setting the trigger for 5AM, which for me is the end of the “FreeTime” window.

Stop Drop Box Scheduled Task ActionTab

As above, except here we are pointing to our little batch file that will kill the Dropbox.exe process.

Both Schedules set

Ahhh. Both tasks scheduled.

I hope this helps somebody out there.  If you wish Dropbox had some custom scheduling options built into their sync engine, or just appreciate the kludge I had to endure, please comment below.