What is cron? How it can help you?

While researching for a good web host and comparing server on the various features like security, performance, support options, you might have often come across the term cron jobs. So now what is cron, and is it something you need?

A cron is a time-based job scheduler available on Linux and other Unix variants. Simply put, let’s say that you have a website and people sign up for services you offer through your website. Getting a single notification each time you have a new signup customer can be cumbersome and difficult for record keeping rather than this you can run a script that will run once a day at a specific time and send you a list of that day new subscribers!

Hence cron was invented for making your work easy to manage. These time-based job schedulers are easy to write and schedule once a day for gathering a list of all subscribers for that day. Executing a script or program at a scheduled time is the main reason for the invention of the cron.

Cron settings are maintained in a file called as “crontab.” This file can be edited for a specific cron job to be executed at the particular time at which you want to schedule that specific task. However, managing crontab file will be comfortable if you are well versed else you can ask your hosting provider for an easy to use web interface.

Time is a flexible variant for cron jobs; you can schedule this job to run once a jab, twice a day or as many time you wish to get notified. Since you know what cron is and how you can manage it let us discuss its uses now. One of the best and most popular uses of a cron is for system maintenance and server maintenance. Some of them are listed below

  • Cleaning up the database.
  • Send email notification on the website statistics like- hits, subscribers, etc.
  • Rotating Log file
  • Updating calendar
  • Checking for invalid links
  • Scan for viruses

The list can be exhaustive depending on your system; you may have dozens of cron jobs scheduled for times throughout the day. In addition to setting cron for system maintenance and server maintenance, it can be widely used in setting up crons for customers too for sending emails for updates on the website, product, and many more.

With scenarios mentioned above and use cases, it can be beneficial using cron for day to day tasks, once you start using them you will be able to find new ways to utilize them to automate your workload. So let’s get started and set up your first cron job today!!