When you’re managing a website, Cron jobs are essential for keeping everything running smoothly. In this post, we’ll show you how to use a cron job monitoring tool such as Gravyware Monitor to help make the process a little bit easier.
Cron jobs are a great way to automate routine tasks but can be time-consuming and difficult to manage. If you’re not careful, it’s easy for your Cron job to stop working or forgetful about when it last ran. This blog post will walk you through the process of setting up a system that will monitor Cron jobs so any failures don’t go unnoticed ever again!
What are Cron jobs and what do they do?
Cron Jobs are scripts that allow you to automate certain tasks on your server. They can be used for a variety of things, such as scheduling backups, running data imports, sending emails, or updating your website. Nearly every site has some sort of scheduled job running behind the scenes.
If one of these jobs fails to run properly, it can have serious consequences for your business. For example, if a backup job fails to run, you could lose important data. Cron job surveillance helps you avoid these problems by ensuring that your cron jobs are running as expected.
Some Examples of Cron Jobs
Scheduled tasks are the background processes that a website uses to perform certain functions automatically. Common examples of these tasks include:
- Updating the site’s content (e.g. adding new blog posts or product descriptions)
- Sending out automated emails (e.g. trigger emails, abandoned cart emails, etc.)
- Generating nightly reports (e.g. website analytics, sales data, etc.)
- Performing maintenance tasks (e.g. database backups or security checks)
- Updating social proof on your website (e.g. recent purchases, number of current users, etc.)
Scheduled tasks are an essential part of any website, as they allow businesses to automate repetitive or time-consuming tasks. This can free up valuable resources that can be better spent on other areas of the business.
What is Cron Job Monitoring?
Cron job monitoring is the process of keeping track of the execution of cron jobs and ensuring that they are running as expected. This can be done manually, by checking the log files for each cron job or by using a tool that automatically monitors cron jobs and alerts you if there are any problems.
Tracking your Cron Jobs is the first step to understanding what they are doing and why. If you don’t keep track of what your jobs do, it can be difficult to determine if everything is running properly or find errors in their execution.
Monitor Cron Jobs & Tracking efficiency
By tracking these scripts for a period of time, you gain a baseline metric that will allow you to compare them to the future. If you have a critical job being run every day, such as website backups, and suddenly it stops working (or takes forever), having an archive of past jobs will allow you to spot errors much more quickly than looking through your code line by line for hours on end. Comparing metrics to their baseline can allow you to be proactive, rather than reactive when diagnosing potential problems. This prevents any downtime that you might experience and keeps your business running smoothly.
How Cron job Monitoring can help with your business
Tracking and monitoring Cron jobs is an under-appreciated tool in a system administrator’s belt. If you can’t track your processes, it makes diagnosing problems much more difficult and time-consuming than it has to be. It also puts your business at risk if one of these scheduled tasks becomes stuck or corrupted without anyone noticing until the consequences are dire.
A company has a scheduled job that backs up its database every night. This job stops working on Monday for some reason, and unfortunately, goes unnoticed until Thursday when they have a major website crash. They must restore the database and somehow must explain how the restored database is 3-4 days old.
Perhaps they had some internal notification setup, but the Database Administrator was on vacation this week, and nobody else was being notified that this critical Cron job was failing.
A company has a very complex website that relies on outside data to display in a dashboard. This data is fed to them on a daily basis from an external source at 2am. The scheduled job that reaches out to retrieve this data stops working, and the company’s website is now incorrect for all users. Site users are yelling and the investigation begins.
With Cron job monitoring, it would be immediately evident that a vital piece of the workflow failed, minimizing any downtime users might experience.
Job Scheduling and SOC 2 Compliance
If your business maintains SOC 2 Compliance standards, you’ll need to monitor your recurring jobs and all other scheduled tasks and performance. Silent failures (where a failure occurs but nobody knows) are not an option.
Having a monitor in place is what you need to maintain that compliance standard.
How to Become a Cron job Guru
Once you have a few jobs up and running, it becomes necessary to monitor them. You can use special Cron job surveillance services that act as an intermediary between your server and the job itself. They will keep track of when they run (and if they’ve failed), allowing for easy tracking of metrics over time.
These tools are extremely valuable when it comes to debugging issues with your scripts. Without them, you can spend hours trying to determine why a script isn’t working as expected – with the monitoring service, you can have that information in minutes.
With Gravyware Monitoring, you simply add a single line of code to the end of your Cron job, and the monitoring is set up!
The value of using an outside service for Cron Monitoring
Your business is relying on these scripts to run correctly, so it’s important to have multiple layers of monitoring in place. If something goes wrong with your script, you want to know about it as soon as possible so that you can take corrective action.
Using an outside service for Cron job monitoring gives you redundancy. If something happens to your server, or the script itself, you’ll know about it and can take appropriate action. If you were to have the instant alert application on the actual system you were monitoring, and that server failed, your in-house monitoring would fail as well. Separating out these modules provides multiple layers of protection.
You might have multiple systems each running a different operating system that are each running its own tasks. It’s easier to have one central location with a live updating dashboard where you can monitor all your jobs in one place. An outside vendor allows this and should not care what type of system they are tracking.
Using an outside service for your Cron job monitoring gives you visibility. You’ll know what script ran, and if any failed. This provides you with the ability to track trends over time and determine which scripts need more attention than others (and pretty soon, your Cron jobs will be running like clockwork!) But most importantly, it allows non-IT personnel to be able to see if something failed. You can set up multiple people to be notified (by email and/or Slack message) that there’s a problem.
It’s important to keep your business running smoothly, and the best way to do this is by providing multiple layers of protection. With an outside monitor for your Cron jobs, you’ll be able to track what failed (and why), improving future reliability as well.
You will also want to make sure you display your server status on a server status page. Your users will value your transparency and tell others about it.
How to Start Monitoring Cron Jobs
There are multiple services that act as a Cron monitoring tool, but our favorite is Gravyware’s Monitoring service (of course). Effective Cron job monitoring must include good reporting, and instant alerts (and methods) if a Cron job fails.
Gravyware Monitoring refers to scheduled task tracking as heartbeat monitoring. Start by signing up for a free account on Gravyware Monitoring. This will give you access to monitor your websites, domain expirations, and SSL expirations, along with your heartbeat monitoring. This process will allow you to monitor multiple cron jobs at once, providing you with a high level of monitoring coverage.
Step 1 – Create a New Heartbeat
Name your scheduled job and choose how often the cron job runs. The monitoring service will expect to see the scheduled task report a completed process or will alert you of a failure.
In the advanced settings, you will choose the instant alerts you want to use if a cron job fails. An email message and Slack instant message are common choices.
Step 2 – Adding Ping URL to Scheduled Job
Once you create the scheduled job monitor, you will be shown a specific URL to put into your scheduled job (wherever that exists) so that it pings the monitoring service to “tell” it that it is complete. This is typically done via an HTTP request. The coworker that creates and maintains the scheduled task can do this quickly and easily.
That’s it. It’s very simple and effective. The real power comes from the monitoring service to alert you if a problem should occur and the expected ping dates are missed.
Step 3 – Rest Easy and Review Any Performance Issues
Reporting should provide you with a clear display of job success or failure. This will help you be proactive and catch small problems before they become really big problems!
So there you have it. Cron jobs are an important aspect of monitoring your website. Tracking and monitoring these tasks is vital for ensuring that content is updated, emails get sent out on time, contact forms work properly, etc. When it comes to cronjobs, there’s no such thing as too much information or data—the more you track the better! If you have any questions regarding this blog post please reach out to the Gravyware team. We’re happy to help answer any questions you may have.
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