capsule review

xStarter Web Pilot

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder xStarter Web Pilot

XStarter Web Pilot works hard to make things simple, but there's a lot of content here to assimilate--and given the power of the program, it is possible for a bug in a task script to be devastating. (For example, you could make an error specifying which files should be deleted on computer shutdown.) There is no standard text editor; rather, you assemble tasks from a menu and set all of their parameters. A simple "Hello, World" script is just the ShowMessage action with the appropriate text supplied.

XStarter Web Pilot does not have any kind of "goto" or branching feature, though it does offer the capacity to loop over sets of data--all message in a mailbox, for example--and then take actions, such as sorting all those which contain the words "herbal viagra" or "Nigerian minister of finance" into the trash. In addition, scripts cannot call other scripts, and there is no way to create function or subroutine 'libraries'--each script is self contained. These are relatively minor limitations, given the focus of the program and the scope of the included actions, which cover everything from powering off the computer to opening the CD tray to performing ADO database queries. A skilled and creative user can do a lot with this program.

Tasks can be set to run at a fixed time, or at time intervals, or even after a set amount of time has passed from the task's creation. Even more useful, extremely complex conditions can be added--you can, for example, run a task at 1:00 PM on Tuesdays in March and August. I am not sure why you'd want to, but you can, and that's what matters.

XStarter Web Pilot also allows you to execute tasks remotely--useful if you're on the road and need to run complex processes on your home computer. Doing so requires making sure all your security and firewall ducks are in a row, of course, so be sure to test this feature before relying on it--and be careful about who may have access to the program once you've set up your system to be accessed by it. For those with no need for such access, the standard version of XStarter is available.

XStarter Web Pilot is not necessarily for everyone. It is aimed at fairly tech-savvy users comfortable with setting up and automating processes on their system. It does what it can to make the process easy, but the complexity of the program's focus means some investment of time and effort will be required to get all you can out of it.

--Ian Harac

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder xStarter Web Pilot

Shop Tech Products at Amazon