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.
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.
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.
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