How to add cron job on linux for root user and specific user

Cron jobs are used for scheduling commands or scripts to run at a given date and time. You can create or set scripts to be executed periodically by scheduling them. Cron is one of the most useful tool in a Linux or UNIX like operating systems. The cron runs as a service (daemon) in the background and it constantly checks for the /etc/crontab file, and /etc/cron.*/ directories. It also checks the /var/spool/cron/ directory. Majorly crons are used to create scheduled backups, cleaning up tmp directories etc. In this blog post we will see how to add cron job on linux system and some examples as well.

How to set up a cron job?

Cron jobs can be scheduled by setting up a “crontab.” Crontab is a text file that contains the the scripts or commands to be run. You can create this file either through the command line interface, or, through web interface if you use web based control panel like cpanel, plesk etc. You can check with your hosting company for instructions on setting up cron job.

cronjob on linux

When you use crontab command on system for first time it may ask for selecting editor to edit cron entries, you can choose any:

crontab -e

To add a user specific cronjob, lets say for user webftp:

crontab -u webftp -e

To list cron jobs use:

crontab -u webftp -l

For root user cron listing:

crontab -l

There are two types of cronjobs:

  1. System Cron Jobs – Used by critical system services that require root like privileges. The sixth parameter is generally a username for the command to run as. This gives the system crontab the ability to run commands as any user.
  2. User Cron Jobs – Created by users, each user can create their own individual cron jobs. The sixth parameter is the command to run, and all commands run as the user who created the crontab.

Format for cronjob:

+---------------- minute (0 - 59)
 |  +------------- hour (0 - 23)
 |  |  +---------- day of month (1 - 31)
 |  |  |  +------- month (1 - 12)
 |  |  |  |  +---- day of week (0 - 6) (Sunday=0 or 7)
 |  |  |  |  |
 *  *  *  *  *  command to be executed

Syntax of crontab:

1 2 3 4 5 /pathtocommand argument1 argument2 

Where,

  • 1: Minute (0-59)
  • 2: Hours (0-23)
  • 3: Day (0-31)
  • 4: Month (0-12 [12 = December])
  • 5: Day of the week(0-7 [7 or 0 = sunday])
  • /pathtocommand – path of the script or command name to schedule

Example 1: Run cron job once everyday at 3 AM

0 3 * * * /root/backup.sh

crontab

Example 2: Run cron job once in week on Sunday

4 7 * * 0 /usr/bin/php /var/www/html/cron_entry.php

or

4 7 * * 7 /usr/bin/php /var/www/html/cron_entry.php

or

4 7 * * Sun /usr/bin/php /var/www/html/cron_entry.php

You can use any one statement out of above three statements. It will execute a cron job every sunday at 7:04 AM.

EXAMPLE 3: Run cron every 5 mins

*/5 * * * * /home/ubuntu/backup.sh

EXAMPLE 4: Run cron every 2 hours

0 */2 * * * /home/ubuntu/backup.sh

EXAMPLE 5: Run cron at specific time 2 pm and 5 pm

0 14-17 * * * /home/ubuntu/backup.sh

EXAMPLE 6: Run cron every 10 mins with output piped to log file

*/10 * * * * /home/ubuntu/backup.sh >> /home/ubuntu/cronbackup.log 2>&1
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