Cron Tutorial – Managing cron tab or cron job is Easy!

This cron tutorial is divided into these subheadings for you to follow it easily:

  • What is cron?
  • What is cron tab?
  • What cron will do for you?
  • Have your web server cron enabled?
  • What are the components of cron?
  • Examples on how to set up cron
  • Setting up the cron
    • METHOD ONE: Using Cron tab manager
    • METHOD TWO: Uploading ‘cron.txt’ file and checking using telnet
      • Telnet commands
      • Telnet steps (Four steps)
  • Cron emails you everytime it runs. How to stop it?
  • TIPS in setting up your cron jobs
  • Update: If you are running php in BINARY(CGI) mode …


What is cron?

Actually it is called ‘cron daemon’. Cron is an automatic task machine. You will use it on your Unix or Linux operating systems for doing some tasks at specific intervals with out your intervention every time. You set the clock and forget. The cron daemon runs the work for you.

What is cron tab?

‘Cron tab(CRON TABle)’ is a text file that contains a series of cron functions.

What cron job will do for you?

* If you want to send your email cources to your subscribers at 11.30 night, you will set the cron job on your server. And your cron manager sends one email every day at 11.30 until all the emails will be finished. If you want to send them on Sundays, you can schedule it with your cron.

* You can schedule it to delete your website members with expired accounts.

* You can schedule it to recieve an update on your subscribers from your mailing list manager.

* You can check your links on other websites in link exchange programms.

Have your web server cron enabled?


Have you seen any icon with a name ‘Cron Jobs’ in your control panel?

Have you seen a text link like ‘Cron Manager’ or ‘Cron jobs’?

If you see one, then you are cron enabled. Ask your host about your cron availability. Some host allows cron with out graphical interface. You have to access it through telnet. If you are hosted on Virtual hosting domains then your system administrator has to set up your cron tabs for you.

What are the components of cron?


1: Path to your php or cgi script
2: minutes (Value is 00 – 59. exact minute the cron executes)
3: hour (Value is 00 – 23. hour of the day the cron executes. 0 means midnight)
4: month (Value is 01 – 12. month of the year the cron executes)
5: day (Value is 01 – 31. day of the month the cron executes)
6: weekday (Value is 00 – 06. day of the week the cron executes. Sunday=0,Monday=1…)

Examples on how to set up cron:

If you have installed a php script in your public_html/www/html directory called members.php.

If you want to run this file each night at 11.30 PM every day:
30 23 * * * /home/username/www/members.php
30 – represents the minute of cron work 
23 – represents the hour of the day 
The * represent every day, month, and weekday.

If you want to set the cron job every sunday at midnight 11.30 PM: 
30 23 * * 0 /home/username/www/members.php
0 – represents the Sunday.  

If you want the cron job to run at 1:00 and 2:00 A.M:
* 1,2 * * * /home/username/www/members.php
This runs your cron at 1A.M and 2A.M every day, every month and every week.

If you want to run the above task only from Monday to Friday and at 11.30 P.M:

30 23 * * 1-5 /home/username/www/members.php
This runs your cron from Monday to Friday and everyday at 11.30 PM.

Setting up the cron:

  • METHOD ONE: Using Cron tab manager

If you have a cron tab manager in your webpanel, it will be easy for you to set the cron tab function. You can click on the icon to open cron manager. There will be some textarea where you can enter the the script file path that you want the cron job to executes.

Your cron manager may be different from the above image, but basically it is easy to set up cron job with your cron manager. I highly recommend this unless you want to get to know about the Second Telnet Method.

  • METHOD TWO: Uploading ‘cron.txt’ file and checking using telnet

* Cron Commands:

crontab filename  Install filename as your crontab file
crontab -e        Edit your crontab file, or create one if it doesn’t already exist. 
crontab -l        Display your crontab file.
crontab -r        Remove your crontab file.
crontab -v        Display the last time you edited your crontab file.      
* Telnet Steps:

Basically FOUR steps:
1. Create cron.txt
2. Upload
3. Install the txt file as cron file with the command ‘crontab cron.txt’
4. Check your cron file

1. Open your notepad on your computer and write cron job following the guidelines explained above under ‘What are the components of cron?’.

For example – If you write your cron job like this:

30 23 * * * /home/username/www/members.php
After writing the above cron job PRESS return key so that a blank line will be there below the cron job line.

2. Always use absolute path for the command line. Turn off the ‘Word Wrap’ feature with the Notepad.

3. Save the file as ‘cron.txt’. Upload it to your root directory (‘/’) where you will see a list of folders like public_html,public_ftp,email etc,. Or ask your web host where to upload the cron files. Upload in ASCII mode.


When you ftp into your site, first you will land on your root directory.

4. Now telnet into your server.

5. You have to use telnet software like putty to login into your server.


At command prompt type –

crontab cron.txt

Press Enter.

You will be back at command prompt.

Then type: (l means lowercase L)

crontab -l

Press Enter.

You will see the list of cron jobs that you have entered in cron.txt.

That’s it!!

Cron emails you everytime it runs. How to stop it?

Add this tag at the end of your cron job:

>/dev/null 2>&1

Taking the above example your cron job looks like:

30 23 * * * /home/username/www/members.php>/dev/null 2>&1

TIPS in setting up your cron jobs:

* Ask your host about the procedure if you are not sure of a thing.

* Check your cron once in a while. For example you set your cron to send your ezine at 11.30 PM. Then you subscribe yourself to see it is working or not.

* Upload cron.txt in ASCII mode.

* If you are setting the script path in your schedule, the path SHOULD be from your hosts server root. NOT your domain path.

is correct.
is incorrect.

* Script names are case sensitive on Unix. So be careful in entering the script name.

* If you are creating cron.txt file and uploading, you should not allow spaces within 1-5 components except between them. (For example 10,30 * * * * is correct not 10 ,30 * * * *)


If your server is running php in CGI mode,
you have to add the ‘php’ before the cron path:
* * * * * php /path/to/your/cron.php


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48 comments on “Cron Tutorial – Managing cron tab or cron job is Easy!
  1. This knowledge repository was of a good use. But I wanted to know how to check whether a cron is executing or not.

  2. Hello

    Actually i am having syslog server i want to write a cron job for device outage .i.e whenever some devices is not loging for specific time or threshold it should send mail to me.

    Can u please help me in this regard.
    Thanking u in Anticipation


  3. Hello. Very useful, but i have a silly question..
    * * * /home/username/www/members.php

    What is the username please? Is it my username which i login in cpanel?

  4. For those who are unfamiliar with offline PHP script, the above cron.txt has one small but critical mistake. Instead of:

    30 23 * * * /home/username/www/members.php

    the command should be:

    30 23 * * * php /home/username/www/members.php

  5. Was trying to add crontab for restarting tomcat every night
    This didnt worked
    55 11 * * */usr/apache/tomcat/bin/ start>/dev/null 2>&1
    So created script which didnt worked either!

    /usr/apache/tomcat/bin/ $name>/dev/null 2>&1

  6. how to run a telnet script with cron? i want to be able to automatically do a telnet from bash, and execute a few lines on the router, that im telnetting to.

    Thank You.

  7. I am learning cornjob. So I hv set it, can any one tell me is it right or wrong ?

    30 * * * * =Run every 10 mins in an hours every day every month

    0 * * * * =Run once an every hour every day every month

    30 23 * * * =Run every 10 mins in 23 hours every day every month

  8. Please anyone tell me this corn setting

    1. If I want to run cornjob every 30 min after in 24 hours

    2. If I want to run Cornjob every 2 hours after in 24 hours.

    Thanks in advance.

  9. Hi.. help me to set cornjob.

    I want to run cornjob after every 10 mins in 24 hours. so what would be setting ?
    Please tell me someone.

  10. i not able to use the cronjobs on my web domain site
    its showing an error on my server log
    “File does not exist: /home/phpgames/public_html/406.shtml”

    how can i solve it please help me in this matter

  11. What is the possibility for the script to be automated and at the same time be told that only when there is an Input Data, script should be executed. Like a check to be made before the script is executed.

  12. My Cron Script is working fine. And i used >/dev/null 2>&1 to Stop sending Emails. But each time a file is created in the same name of PHP file with trailing numbers like phpfile.php.1, phpfle.php.2, phpfile.php.3….
    Is there any script to stop that?

  13. Hello,

    I am developing an ASP.NET script and I need to set up some scheduling like sending email if the members has not uploaded some data and so on. Or to make changes in MY SQL at regular interval.

    Now I know that things like this can be done with CRON but I am not very sure how to make it happen with ASP.NET. Your article is highly helpful and I was just expecting if you could help me a little with ASP.Net

    Thank you, – David

  14. How to create a cron job that runs on the last day of every month (considering that there could be 28, 29, 30 or 31 days in a month)?


  15. Hey guys, could you tell me, what does it mean this 2>&1. This is the second part of >/dev/null 2>&1. Till >/dev/null is ok and i understand, but after this i really don’t know….Thanks in advance !

  16. Linux was bulit mainly with the C programming language.
    In the C programming language a program has three data streams which can be handled separately :
    The greater-than (>) in commands like these redirect the program’s output somewhere. In this case, something is being redirected into /dev/null, and something is being redirected into &1.
    0 means STDIN (STandarD INput) which is usually the keyboard;
    1 means STDOUT (STandarD OUTput) which is the monitor;
    2 means STDERR (STandarD ERRor) which is usually also the monitor by default.
    A program e.g. X by default prints it’s output to STDOUT, to the monitor.
    In the “X >/dev/null 2>&1″ statement, the first part “X >/dev/null” redirects X’s output from STDOUT to the /dev/null file which is something like a “bottomless hole” in Linux. What goes there never comes back.
    But X’s STDERR isn’t redirected yet so X’s error messages will still be printed to the monitor.
    The last part of the statement “2>&1″ redirects the STDERR (2) to STDOUT (1) which is already redircted to /dev/null.
    So none of them prints to the monitor any more.
    (We have to add the “&” sign before the number 1 otherwise STDERR (2) would be redirected to a simple file called 1 in the same directory instead of STDOUT.)
    That’s it !
    Best Regards,
    Kalin Mandaliev

  17. Pingback: Jue's Blog » Using Gmail to send / receive emails on a different account (super complicated version)

  18. This is very nice article about the cron tab. i have reached this article in my first search attempt is my luck. Thank you once again

  19. My web hosting just update to cpanel
    Kernel version
    cPanel Version 11.25.0-RELEASE

    For running php in CGI mode,
    you have to add the ‘php’ between the time and directory
    * * * * * php /path/to/your/cron.php

    or else, I receive the email from Cron Daemon

    /home/user/public_html/cron_job/cron_test.php: line 1: ?php: No such file or directory
    /home/user/public_html/cron_job/cron_test.php: line 2: =: command not found
    /home/user/public_html/cron_job/cron_test.php: line 3: =: command not found
    /home/user/public_html/cron_job/cron_test.php: line 4: syntax error near unexpected token `’/home/user/public_html/cron_job/test.php”
    /home/user/public_html/cron_job/cron_test.php: line 4: `require_once(‘/home/user/public_html/cron_job/test.php’);’

    Maybe you can edit your post add this information

  20. The Cron kept emailing me 3 – 4 times a day, it was driving me nuts until I came across this super article very informative and precise. I just wish that all articles were as good.

    Thanks for your help!


  21. Hi,

    I have scheduled a cron job to execute every five minutes, now i am facing this issue. Occasionally if the job is not finished in five minutes another instance of the same job will start executing by cron tab, which will make it tougher for the first job to finish and ending up queuing up of multiple jobs working on the same shared resources.
    So is it possible to schedule a cron tab in such a manner that it will check if the an instance of same job is already running do not start a new job.


  22. How to create a example cron job in personal desktop/laptop and checking the job in same personal desktop/laptop

  23. hi, I don’t know if you can help me.

    I need to setup a Cron task

    the Command path I have been given is

    php -f /var/www/vhosts/

    but this is not working

    should I insert ‘usr/bin/php’
    and if so where abouts in the path does this go?

  24. I need to setup a Cron task
    the Command path I have been given is
    php -f /var/www/vhosts/
    but this is not working
    should I insert ‘usr/bin/php’
    and if so where abouts in the path does this go?

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