Why Choose A Host That Offers CRON Or Task Scheduler?

Labor Intensive Websites


Maintaining a website isn’t always the walk in the park that some might have you believe. The simple fact of the matter is that some websites require a large amount of Webmaster intervention while others require very little. Membership sites, for example, or even sites that gather email addresses from interested parties all require the regular checking of emails and membership applications. Checking these one at a time invariably leads to the loss of important details and emails, which can prove costly in the long run. Fortunately, there is help at hand to automate some of these tasks and ensure that you are always one step ahead of your website visitors.

Using Cron For Automation


Cron is basically an automation tool designed for Unix systems and is particularly popular with certain groups of Webmaster who use it in order to automate various tasks on their web server. If you have been doing some research into the best host for your website then it is likely that you will have come across several hosts that offer Cron as part of their hosting accounts. You may also have seen several references to it on various other websites. This is because it offers a very simple way to automate otherwise time consuming tasks.

Using Cron On Your Website


The settings for Cron jobs are housed in a file called crontab but because of the slightly confusing nature of the file the majority of web hosts that offer Cron jobs provide a simple user interface that is accessed through your web hosting account. This interface enables you to dictate the location of the Cron file that you wish to execute and also determine the frequency that you wish to execute it. Cron is extremely flexible and the majority of web interfaces are as equally flexible. This means you are able to automatically run jobs every year, every month, week, day, or even hour. In fact if a particular task requires it you can often set it up to run automatically every few minutes.

Maintenance And Administration Tasks


Website maintenance and administration tasks can be easily and quickly set up in order to run automatically at times of the day when your server is at its quietest. Cleaning your database is often a server intensive process and one that would be better run when fewer people are on your website. Unfortunately, this tends to coincide with the times of day when you frequent your site less. By setting up Cron to do it for you, it is possible to perform regular maintenance without your site visitors being the ones to suffer.

Database Maintenance And Troubleshooting


In fact Cron jobs can even be set up to ensure that any databases on your server are still running correctly and accurately. Any that aren’t can be updated, amended, and fixed. Again, this can be done at times of the day when your server load is at minimum usage preventing any major upset to site visitors and ensuring that the database is in a relatively stable condition in order to be thoroughly checked over. Once you start to implement Cron job like this you will find an increasing number of uses to make your life easier.

Customer Contact


Do you run a community based website? Perhaps you have user lists that wish to be informed of any forums messages or blog posts that fall under a certain category. Once again, Cron could be the answer. It is possible to set up a Cron job that will determine any messages or posts of relevance and then automatically forward these at a given time to the appropriate people by email. Automated emails and time sensitive emails can easily be set up and sent at your bidding ensuring that your visitors are always up to date and also helping to ensure that they return to your website.

Task Scheduling


Cron is a very powerful tool to assist Webmasters automate their website and other aspects of their online business. Its strengths lie in automating tasks that you would ordinarily need to complete over and over again. Typically these tasks are the ones that are the most vital to the successful running of your site but because they can be particularly boring or mundane they are also the ones we all put off as long as possible. With Cron this no longer becomes an issue. Being able to schedule tasks in this way is also an effective method of balancing the load being placed on your server through your own actions.

Task Scheduler For Windows Hosting


While Cron is a Linux or Unix only application there is a Windows equivalent called Task Scheduler. This application is just as simple to use and potentially beneficial as Cron but works only on Windows servers. Many Windows hosts offer Task Scheduler because of the benefits it offers in automating website maintenance and much more. Again, you should find that if your host does offer it then there will be a user-friendly interface included in your hosting control panel.

The Advantage Of Automation


Cron and its Windows counterpart, Task Scheduler, are both very beneficial website tools. They offer the unique opportunity to completely automate various aspects of your web hosting and administration making your job easier, quicker, and much smoother. Not only does it offer you this advantage but it also gives you the capability to improve the virtual lives of your site visitors. As well as being able to automate tasks to low load times of the day when they will cause much less interruption to your site visitors they also enable you to offer much more complex features on your site.

Conclusion


Whether you use Linux or Windows hosting one of the major pitfalls of operating a single site can be the numerous time-consuming tasks that you are faced with every single day. If you intend to operate or already operate a network of websites then you can multiple this figure by as many sites as you have. By hosting all sites on the same host that offers you Cron or Task Scheduler you can greatly reduce the amount of time you must spend administering your website.

Not all hosts offer Cron or Task Scheduler. If you do find that you operate a labor intensive website or network and can see the obvious benefits that reducing this labor offers then you may want to consider either asking your existing host whether they are willing to offer Cron (you may need to pay an admin fee) or you could move hosts. While moving host does not always seem a viable solution the initial furor that it will cause with your sites will be more than worth it in the long run.