What is cron jobs and how to set it up?

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The cron daemon is a built-in Linux utility that runs processes on your system at a scheduled time. Cron reads the crontab (cron tables) for predefined commands and scripts.

Using a specific syntax, you can configure a cron job to schedule scripts or other commands to run automatically.

This guide shows how to set up a cron job in Linux with examples.


a system running Linux
Access to the command line/terminal window ( Ctrl –Alt––T or Ctrl – Alt –F2 )
A user account with root or sudo privileges
Basic Crontab Syntax
Cron reads the configuration files for the list of commands to execute. The daemon uses a specific syntax to interpret rows in the crontab configuration tables.

In order to set up a cron job we need to understand the basic elements that make up this syntax. The standard form for a crontab line is as follows:

a b c d e /directory/command output
That is, the parts of a croncommand are:

1. The first five fields a b c d indicate the time/date and repetition of the change.

2. In the second part, /directory/command specifies the location and script you want to run.

3. The last part of the output is optional. Defines how the system notifies the user of job completion.

1. Cron Job Time Format
The first five fields in the command represent numbers that define when and how often the command will run. A space separates each position that represents a particular value.

The following table summarizes the possible values ​​and sample syntax for the fields:

Field Possible values ​​Syntax Description
[One minute 0 – 59 7 * * * *  The cron job is started whenever the system clock shows 7 at the minute position.
[b] – Clock 0 – 23 0 7 * * * The cron job runs whenever the system clock shows 7 AM (code 7:00 19).
[c] – Day 0 – 31 0 0 7 * *  The day of the month is the tool that works every 7 7 th day of the month.
[d] – Month 0 = none and 12 = December 0 0 0 7 * The numeric month is 7, which indicates that the job only runs in July.
[e] – Day of the Week 0 = Sunday and 7 = Sunday 0 0 * * 7  At the current location, 7 means the job will only run on Sundays.
2. Execution Command
The next section specifies the command to be executed. Represents the full directory and filename of the commands you want the script or cron to complete. E.g:

In our example, the command looks at the root of the system and runs the backup.sh script. You can specify any script or command you want.

3. Output (Optional)
By default, when cron runs, it sends an email to the owner of the crontab file. This is a convenient way to keep track of tasks. Keep in mind that regular or small tasks can quickly fill your inbox.

Since this is an optional feature, you can avoid this scenario by disabling the output email. To turn off email output, add the following string>/dev/null 2>&1, schedule and command fields after.

* * * * * directory/command >/dev/null 2>&1
4. Using Operators (Optional)
For efficiency the cron syntax also uses operators. Operators are special characters that act on the values ​​provided in the cron field.

An asterisk (*) represents all values. Use this operator to keep tasks running for all months or all days of the week.
Commas (,) denote individual values.
A hyphen (–) indicates a range of values.
A slash (/) is used to divide a value into steps. (*/2 becomes every other value, */3 becomes every third, */10 becomes every tenth, etc.)
Setting up a Cron Job
To configure a cron job, open crontab with a text editor of choice and enter the syntax for the command you want to run.

How to Edit a crontab File?
Enter the following command in your terminal window to open the crontab configuration file for the current user:

crontab -e
You can add any number of scheduled tasks, one per line.


After you finish adding the task, save the file and exit. The cron daemon will read and execute the instructions provided.

Remember, Cron does not need to be restarted to apply the changes.

Edit crontab for a Different User
To edit another user's crontab, enter the following command:

crontab –u other_username –e
Note: If you need to run a cron job on reboot,

Run a Cron Job on Delayed Boot
To run a delayed job after the system restarts, use the sleep command while inserting the string @reboot:

@reboot sleep [time in seconds] && [path to job]
Cron Work Examples
When specifying jobs, use the asterisk to indicate all values. Putting a value in one of the fields runs the command on that value only. E.g:

  • 2 0 * 4 /root/backup.sh
    Even though it's set to run at 2 o'clock, only the first of the month (0)

It works when it falls on Wednesday (4). If you change it as follows:

* 2 0 * * /root/backup.sh
The command runs at 2 am on the first day of every month. The table below provides a few basic commands that use the file /root/backup.sh from our previous examples.

Ordering a Cron Job
Run Cron Job Every Minute * * * * * /root/backup.sh
Run Cron Job Every 30 Minutes 30 * * * * /root/backup.sh
Run Cron Job Every Hour 0 * * * */root/backup.sh
Run Cron Job Every Day At Midnight 0 0 * * * /root/backup.sh
Run Cron Job Every Day at 2 0 2 * * * /root/backup.sh
Run Cron Job Every 1 st Month 0 0 1 * * /root/backup.sh
Run Cron Job Every 15th Month 0 0 15 * * /root/backup.sh
Run on December 1 Cron Job st  -  Midnight 0 0 0 12 * /root/backup.sh
Run Cron Job on Saturday at Midnight 0 0 * * 6 /root/backup.sh
Using Special Characters
You can use the slash to divide a time string into steps. To run a backup every 15 minutes:

*/15 * * * *
*Repeats all values ​​and meaning /15counts and every 15 minutes.

Use the hyphen character to specify a range. To run the code at 4 o'clock every weekday:

0 4 * * 1-5 /root/backup.sh
In this case, 1-5 indicates Monday – Friday.

Use commas to individually indicate when the code should run:

0 4 * * 2,4 /root/backup.sh
This runs the code at 4pm on Tuesday and Thursday.

Some wildcards can be combined. Run the command every other day, 37 minutes past the clock:

37 1-23/2 * * * /root/backup.sh
Specifies the 1-23hour interval, adjusts the interval every two hours/2.

Listing Current Cron Jobs
You can list all cron jobs on your system without opening the crontab configuration file. Type the following command in a terminal window:

crontab -l



Now you have a good understanding of how to use cronLinux to schedule tasks. Use the examples presented in this tutorial to create and schedule cron jobs on your system. Over time, expand tasks using special characters to automate many of your mundane tasks.

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