cron is the job scheduler in Linux systems that can execute commands or scripts at regular intervals. Each task scheduled in cron is called a cron job. The utility used for scheduling these jobs is called crontab.

A common cron job that Linux admins use on their systems is to execute a command or script every 5 minutes. In this guide, we'll show you how to use crontab to setup a cron job that runs every 5 minutes.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • How to set crontab to execute every 5 minutes
Setting a cron job for every 5 minutes in crontab
Setting a cron job for every 5 minutes in crontab
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software cron
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Configure cron job for every 5 minutes

Open a terminal on your system and type the following commands to access crontab and setup the cron job.

DID YOU KNOW?
Each Linux user has their own crontab, and the scheduled jobs will be executed as that user. For example, if you access crontab as root, the jobs you schedule will be executed as root.

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  1. Open crontab (the cron editor) with the following command.
    $ crontab -e
    
  2. If this is your first time accessing crontab, your system will likely ask you which editor you'd prefer to use. In this example, we'll go with nano (type 1 and then Enter) since it's the easiest to understand.
    $ crontab -e
    no crontab for linuxconfig - using an empty one
    
    Select an editor.  To change later, run 'select-editor'.
      1. /bin/nano        <---- easiest
      2. /usr/bin/vim.basic
      3. /usr/bin/vim.tiny
      4. /bin/ed
    
    Choose 1-4 [1]:
    
  3. Make a new line at the bottom of this file and insert the following code. Of course, replace our example script with the command or script you wish to execute, but keep the */5 * * * * part as that is what tells cron to execute our job every 5 minutes.
    */5 * * * * /path/to/some-script.sh
    
  4. Exit this file and save changes. To do that in nano, you'd need to press Ctrl + X, Y, and then Enter.

Conclusion

That's all there is to it. Scheduling jobs in cron is very simple as long as you know the syntax for telling cron how often to run the job, which is */5 * * * * as we've shown in this guide.

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