Revision as of 09:42, 17 May 2012 by Howard Miller (talk | contribs) (Working out the Moodle cron command)

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 3.1. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version of Moodle is probably available here: Cron.

The Moodle 'cron' process is a PHP script (part of the standard Moodle installation) that must be run regularly in the background. The Moodle cron script runs different tasks at differently scheduled intervals.

IMPORTANT: Do not skip setting up the cron process on your server for your Moodle. Your site will not work properly without it

A special program (typically called - not surprisingly - 'cron') is used to run the Moodle cron script at a regular interval. The Moodle cron script runs tasks include sending mail, updating Moodle reports, RSS feeds, activity completions, posting forum messages and other tasks. Since different tasks have different schedules, not every task will run in Moodle when the cron script is triggered.

The cron program (that runs the Moodle script) is a core part of Unix based systems (including Linux and OSX) being used to run all manner of time-dependent services. On Windows a special program will usually need to be installed. On shared hosting, you should find the documentation (or ask support) how cron is configured.

Essentially, the task involves adding a single command to the list of cron activities on your system. On Unix based systems this list is a file called a 'crontab' which all users have.

General discussion

See the later sections for your server type; this section contains some general background information.

There are essentially two steps to implementing cron:

  1. identifying the correct command to run
  2. finding the right place on your system to put the command

Working out the Moodle cron command

Moodle has two different ways to deploy cron which use different scripts within the Moodle install. These are as follows...

  1. The CLI (command line interpreter) script. This will be at the path /path/to/moodle/admin/cli/cron.php. If in doubt, this is the correct script to use. This needs to be run by a 'PHP CLI' program on your computer. So the final command may look something like /usr/bin/php /path/to/moodle/admin/cli/cron.php. You can (and should) try this on your command line to see if it works.
  2. The web based script. This needs to be run from a web browser and will be accessed via a web url something like You can find command line based web browser (e.g. wget) so the final command may look like /usr/bin/wget This has the advantage that it can be run from *anywhere*. If you can't get cron to work on your machine it can be run somewhere else.

Finding the right place to put the command

This really does depend on the system you are using and you should find and read the documentation for your platform or hosting. In most cases getting the Moodle cron to run consists of establishing the correct command (above) and then adding it, and the time to run the command, to some sort of file. This might be either through a specific user interface or by editing the file directly.

Setting up cron on your system

Choose the information for your server type:

Here are some more instructions for specific hosts (please check that these are up to date):

Cron settings in Moodle

There are settings within Moodle that control aspects of cron operation:

Remote cron

Using the 'web based' version of cron it is perfectly ok to place the cron process on a different machine to the Moodle server. For example, the cron service on a Unix server can invoke the cron web 'page' on a Windows based Moodle server.

See also

Using Moodle forum discussions: