To explicitly start a task, call the Start Task function/VI. You auto-start a task when you perform some other operation that implicitly starts the task. For instance, calling a Read function/VI or a Write function/VI might implicitly start the task if one is not already started. How to specify this behavior depends on the operation that your task performs. By default, the Read function/VI and the Write function/VI for a single sample automatically starts a task.
If you have specified a task to perform a finite measurement, you do not need to call the Start Task function/VI, nor do you need to change the default behavior of the DAQmx Read function/VI. Calling the Read function/VI starts your task, performs the finite measurement, and stops the task after the last sample is read. The task returns to its state before you called the read operation. However, if you need to perform additional read operations after the task has been stopped (in other words, if you want to read earlier locations in the buffer), the default behavior is insufficient for two reasons:
For this situation, explicitly commit the task by calling the Control Task function/VI with the Action parameter set to Commit. Then, after performing the initial read operation and before performing the subsequent read operations, set the Auto-Start Read attribute/property to False.
For a continuous measurement, explicitly call the Start Task function/VI, perform the desired read operations, and call the Stop Task function/VI to stop the continuous measurement. When you perform a read operation in a loop—regardless if the read operation performs a single-sample, on-demand read, or a multiple-sample, hardware-timed read—call the Start Task function/VI before entering the loop and call the Stop Task function/VI after leaving the loop.
The behavior of the Write function/VI is more complicated. Calling the Write function/VI always results in the task transitioning to at least the Committed state. Whether the task transitions to the Running state depends on the value of the Auto-Start parameter.
For single-sample write operation, call a single-sample version of the Write function/VI. This call implicitly starts the task, writes the single sample, and stops the task. For a multiple-sample, on-demand write operation, call the Write function/VI, but also set the Auto-Start parameter to True, which by default is set to False. This call implicitly starts the task, writes the multiple samples, and stops the task.
For a multiple-sample, hardware-timed write operation, first call the Write function/VI to write the samples to generate, explicitly call the Start Task function/VI, wait for the samples to be generated by calling the Wait Until Done function/VI, and then explicitly call the Stop Task function/VI.
If you attempt to perform a hardware-timed generation with the Auto-Start parameter of the Write function/VI set to True either because you explicitly set it to true or because you are using a single-sample Write function/VI, the operation might fail because the samples that you write are not transferred to the device in time to generate the waveform. As a result, when performing hardware-timed generations, always write at least part of the waveform to generate before starting the task.
There are other situations in which you should explicitly call the DAQmx Start Task function/VI and the DAQmx Stop Task function/VI, even though you are not required to do so. When you call the Read function/VI or the Write function/VI in a loop, you can significantly improve performance if you explicitly call the Start Task function/VI before entering the loop and call the Stop Task function/VI after exiting the loop. Without explicitly calling the Start Task function/VI before entering the loop, the task must implicitly transition from its current state to the Running state before performing the read or write operation. After the read or write operation is complete, the task must implicitly transition from the Running state back to its previous state. These implicit state transitions occur for every iteration of the loop, which is inefficient.