How to Set up a Crontab File on Linux

If you need a certain Linux script, command, or program to regularly run at a certain time, you can schedule the event (called a "job") using cron. We'll show you how to open your cron configuration file and schedule your first cron job.

Setting up the File

Using your favourite editor, create a cron file with a line for each job you wish to schedule, in the format:

m h d m w command

  • m minute
  • h hour
  • d day of month
  • m month 1-12
  • w weekday 0-7, Sun,Mon, etc (Sunday = 0 = 7) It is easy to remember if you think of the way one would say a date: Wednesday, July 29, at 10:30, then reverse the order.

Load your file into crontab:

crontab yourfile

Trying an Example

Create a file testCron.txt containing the following lines:

  • # do this every 10 minutes
  • */10 * * * * date >> ~/testCron.log

Load it into cron:

crontab testCron.txt

Wait 30 minutes, check testCron.log, if it works it will update your file with a time stamp 3 times.

Remove the crontab so that it does not run forever:

crontab -r


  • You may directly edit your crontab using crontab -e; note it uses vi syntax which can be awkward for the new user.
  • ALWAYS with *nix use the man pages, they are your friends: man crontab

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