Crontab Format: Cron Job Examples in Linux

On the Linux system we can schedule a regular task, also knowns as a cron job, using a cron (crond) service.

The cron (crond) service reads crontab (cron tables) and executes listed scheduled tasks.

In this article i will show the format of a crontab and explain how to schedule a cron job in Linux.

You will also find here the most popular examples of cron job schedules, such as every minute cron job, every 5 minutes, every hour, every day (daily cron job) and others.

First of all you have to check that the cron (crond) service is running.

Check if the cron service is running on Ubuntu:

systemctl status cron.service

– or –

service cron status

Check if the crond service is running on CentOS:

systemctl status crond.service

– or –

service crond status

Also it is necessary to ensure that the cron (crond) service is added to autostart.

Cool Tip: Don’t know how to configure a service to run at startup on Ubuntu or CentOS? This is easy! Read more →

As only the cron (crond) service is running and configured to start on boot – you can schedule a cron job.

Edit Crontab

Run the following command to edit crontab of the current user:

$ crontab -e

Edit the crontab of the user Alice:

$ crontab -u alice -e

View crontab entries of the current user and of the user Alice:

$ crontab -l
$ crontab -u alice -l

Useful Information: The default location of the user’s cron jobs is /var/spool/cron/ directory.

Crontab Format

Each cron job to run has to be defined through a single line indicating when the cron job will be run and what command to run for the cron job.

To define the time you can provide concrete values for minute, hour, day of month, month and day of week.

You can use a wildcard * in the time fields which means ALL or ANY.

Here is a schema for better understanding of the crontab format:

.---------------- minute (0 - 59)
| .-------------- hour (0 - 23)
| | .------------ day of month (1 - 31)
| | | .---------- month (1 - 12) OR jan,feb,mar ...
| | | | .-------- day of week (0 - 6) (Sunday=0 or 7) OR sun,mon,tue ...
| | | | |
* * * * * command to be executed

A time tag can be one value, several values, a range or a fractional range.

Examples of a time tag for the hour tag:

Value Type Description
9 One value Execute at 9am
6,7,10 Multiple values Execute at 6, 7 and 10am
6-9 Range Execute every hour between 6-9am (inclusive)
*/3 Fractional Execute every third hour, i.e. 0 (midnight), 3am, 6am, 9am, etc.
3-12/3 Fractional range Execute every third hour between 3am and 12am, i.e. 3am, 6am, 9am, 12am

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There are several special predefined values which can be used to substitute the cron expression:

Entry Description Equiv to
@reboot Run at boot and reboot only
@yearly Run at midnight Jan 1 each year 0 0 1 1 *
@annually Run at midnight Jan 1 each year 0 0 1 1 *
@monthly Run at midnight on the first day of each month 0 0 1 * *
@weekly Run at midnight each Sunday 0 0 * * 0
@daily Run at midnight each day 0 0 * * *
@midnight Run at midnight each day 0 0 * * *
@hourly Run on the first second of every hour 0 * * * *

Cron Job Examples

At the end of this article i would like to introduce several useful examples of cron job schedules.

I look through these examples almost each time when i need to add a cron job to crontab.

This table helps me a lot and i hope it will help you also.

Here are the most common examples of cron job schedules that can be found in almost any crontab on Linux:

Schedule Job
* * * * * echo “Run cron job every minute”
*/5 * * * * echo “Run cron job every 5 minutes”
*/30 * * * * echo “Run cron job every 30 minutes”
0 * * * * echo “Run cron job every hour”
0 */3 * * * echo “Run cron job every 3 hours”
0 13 * * * echo “Run cron job every day at 1pm”
30 2 * * * echo “Run cron job every day at 2.30am”
0 0 * * * echo “Run cron job every day at midnight”
0 0 * * 0 echo “Run cron job every Sunday”
0 0 * * 1 echo “Run cron job every Monday”
0 0 1 * * echo “Run cron job every first day of every month”
0 0 1 1 * echo “Run cron job every first of January every year”

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