A cron job is a time-based task scheduler in Unix-like operating systems. It allows users to schedule tasks, such as scripts or programs, to run periodically at a predetermined time or date. Cron jobs are an essential part of WordPress, as they are used to automate certain routine tasks such as publishing scheduled posts and performing system maintenance.

The name “cron” derives from the Greek word for time, chronos.

How Does it Work?

Cron jobs are executed according to a set of instructions (called cron commands) stored in an automated program called a crontab file. This file specifies what commands are to be run at particular times and dates. When the designated time arrives, the cron job is triggered and executed automatically without any user input.

Within the WordPress environment, cron jobs are managed through a script called WP-Cron. This script runs periodically on your web server, usually every time a page is requested from the WordPress front-end. It then polls the database for any scheduled tasks that need to be executed and performs them if necessary. Because of this, it’s possible for websites with little or no traffic to miss scheduled tasks.

Cron jobs can also be configured explicitly with WP-CLI or via web hosting control panel software such as cPanel or Plesk. This way you have more control over when tasks are run and can schedule them according to specific intervals.


Cron jobs can save you time by executing recurring tasks automatically, so you don’t have to manually run them every time. They also ensure that important processes are run on schedule, which helps maintain system stability and reliability over long periods of time. Additionally, they allow administrators to prioritize resources more efficiently since they’re only using computing power when needed.

Some benefits of using cron jobs in WordPress include:

  • Automatically publishing scheduled posts
  • Running automatic software updates
  • Automatically deleting old revisions
  • Generating automated reports
  • Performing system maintenance tasks
  • Scheduling emails
  • Generating backups at regular intervals


Common examples of tasks that can be configured with cron jobs in WordPress include:

  • Backing up databases at regular intervals
  • Cleaning up old revisions and autosave data after a certain timeline
  • Clearing out old post statuses like trashed posts, draft posts etc.
  • Removing expired transient options from the database


Cron jobs are an invaluable tool that helps automate repetitive tasks within WordPress, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your website’s performance. When configured correctly, they can save you time and ensure that your site is running smoothly 24/7.