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The software utility cron is a time-based job scheduler in Unix-like computer operating systems. Users that set up and maintain software environments use cron to schedule jobs (commands or shell scripts) to run periodically at fixed times, dates, or intervals. It typically automates system maintenance or administration—though its general-purpose nature makes it useful for things like downloading files from the Internet and downloading email at regular intervals. The origin of the name cron is from the Greek word for time, χρόνος (chronos).[citation needed]

Cron is most suitable for scheduling repetitive tasks. Scheduling one-time tasks can be accomplished using the associated at utility.

Cron is driven by a crontab (cron table) file, a configuration file that specifies shell commands to run periodically on a given schedule. The crontab files are stored where the lists of jobs and other instructions to the cron daemon are kept. Users can have their own individual crontab files and often there is a system-wide crontab file (usually in /etc or a subdirectory of /etc) that only system administrators can edit.

The syntax of each line expects a cron expression made of five fields, followed by a shell command to execute.

While normally the job is executed when the time/date specification fields all match the current time and date, there is one exception: if both "day of month" (field 3) and "day of week" (field 5) are restricted (not "*"), then one or both must match the current day.

For example, the following clears the Apache error log at one minute past midnight (00:01) every day, assuming that the default shell for the cron user is Bourne shell compliant:

1 0 * * * printf "" > /var/log/apache/error_log

This example runs a shell program called at 23:45 (11:45 PM) every Saturday.

45 23 * * 6 /home/oracle/scripts/

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