Total Visual Agent can run as a standard Windows program or as a "hidden" Windows Service to execute your scheduled tasks in a secure and robust manner.
A Windows Service can run even without a user logged on to the computer, providing increased security and automated restart if the machine crashes.
The Total Visual Agent Service runs in the background, waiting for the appropriate time to execute scheduled Actions. Simply schedule the tasks you want, and let Total Visual Agent take care of it forever. Since it is a Windows Service, it does not require a user to be logged on in order to run its scheduled events. There's no need to keep your machine open and unattended while processing your events.
Total Visual Agent includes a Service Control Manager to help you manage the Service. Open the Service Control Manager from the Windows Start menu:
Launch the Total Visual Agent Service
The Service requires Administrator rights if you want to modify its status. If you are not logged in as the Administrator, right mouse click and select Run as Administrator:
Launch the Service with Run as Administrator
The Service Control Manager displays the following form:
Total Visual Agent Service Control Manager
The Service Control Manager works with the Windows Service to let you turn the Service on and off, and see what it’s doing. The "Current Processing Activity" section displays information about the Service’s current activity. When the Service processes an Event, this section displays the Item and Action that is being processed.
The Total Visual Agent Service is a standard Windows Service, and like other services, can be managed through Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Services. MMC includes more advanced management options than the Service Control manager, and can be used if you are familiar with Windows Services.
To open MMC Services, select Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Services from the Windows Start Menu:
Setting the Total Visual Agent Service Properties from the Microsoft Management Console
Locate the service named “Total Visual Agent 2016 Service" and select "Properties" from the Action menu, or double click on the service to open the Properties window.
The General tab provides options for starting and stopping the Service:
Total Visual Agent Service, General Properties
From this tab, you can specify the startup type for the Service. Change the Startup Type from Manual to Automatic for the service to automatically start when Windows is rebooted. This lets your processes automatically restart after the machine recovers from a power failure. This tab also lets you manually start, stop, pause, and resume the Service.
The Log On tab provides options for how the Service logs on to the system.
Local Log On Properties
Network Log On Properties
The Recovery tab provides options for how the Service behaves if it fails:
Total Visual Agent Service, Recovery Properties
If the Service fails to start, consider restarting it, or running another program to notify you of the failure.
The challenge with running a Windows Service is that a service has no user interface. If an error occurs, the program cannot prompt you with the problem and it may just shut down or hang. There are a few ways to diagnose such problems.
Total Visual Agent has an email notification system to send alerts to you in the event something goes wrong. It uses standard SMTP email settings that are set from the Total Visual Agent Manager under the Tools, Options menu, Error Alert Mail Settings tab:
Email Notification Settings to Activate Email Alerts
With email notification, you will receive emails when unexpected errors occur. Make sure to test your email settings to verify this is working.
From the Total Visual Agent Manager where you create your actions, test them individually to verify they work. This should be done before adding them to a schedule.
Make sure you log into Windows with the same user name that the Service is configured on its Log On tab. Users may have different permissions, drive mappings, and other settings that allow the Total Visual Agent Manager to run a task successfully, yet fail in the Service.
After confirming the tests on the individual tasks and before running it as a Windows service, launch the Monitor to ensure it is scheduled properly and the tasks work together.
Launch the Total Visual Agent Monitor
Unlike the Service, the Monitor has a user interface if it encounters unexpected errors.
The Monitor performs your scheduled tasks identical to the Service so there is no difference in functionality. However, if a problem occurs in the Service, it can just quit or hang without telling you why. The Monitor helps troubleshoot issues, so run it for a few of your scheduled cycles to ensure there are no problems before using the Service.
If the Monitor runs and the Service fails with errors claiming it can't find databases, make sure your databases (and other folders and files) are referenced by Universal Naming Convention (UNC) format (e.g. \\server\folder\) rather than mapped drive letters.
References to local drive letters should be fine, but mapped network drives may not be initialized for the login used by the Service. UNC paths should always work.
This could also indicate the Windows user name when running the Monitor is not the same as the logon for the Service. The tests for the Manager, Monitor and Service are not conclusive if different Windows names are used among them.
With Windows Service!
Supports: All Access, Jet Engine, and Visual Basic versions
"Total Visual Agent is a real find, a rare combination of ease of use, and bang for the buck. In the end, no other competitor even comes close."
Thomas Wagner, Product Review in MS Office and VBA Developer