Managing Server Cron Jobs for WordPress Reservations

How The Reservation Process Works?

The reservation process for our restaurant solution is designed to ensure seamless and accurate bookings.

When a customer begins the reservation process by selecting a time and proceeding to the reservation form, the chosen seats are temporarily blocked for a period of 10-15 minutes.

This temporary hold prevents double bookings and ensures that once a customer initiates a reservation, their selected seats remain available for them to complete their booking.

If the reservation process is not completed within this timeframe, the system automatically frees up the seats through a scheduled task.

However, as this process depends on the WP-Cron job to free up those seats, and WP-Cron only runs when someone visits your website, it could happen that if there are no visits, the cron job will not run to trigger the function responsible for freeing up blocked reservations.

Therefore, it is better to rely on an external cron job system to ensure it runs every 5 minutes, providing a more reliable and timely execution of these tasks.

Why Use Server Cron Jobs Instead of WP Cron Jobs?

WordPress's built-in cron jobs (WP-Cron) are designed to handle scheduled tasks like publishing scheduled posts, checking for updates, and other maintenance tasks. However, WP-Cron has limitations, especially for time-sensitive tasks such as managing reservations for a restaurant:

  1. Dependence on Website Traffic: WP-Cron only runs when someone visits your website. If there are periods of low traffic, critical tasks like freeing up blocked reservations might not run on time.
  2. Performance Issues: For high-traffic sites, WP-Cron can cause performance issues since it runs on every page load.

Using a server cron job is more reliable because it runs independently of website traffic, ensuring that tasks like freeing up reservations occur precisely when needed.

Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Server Cron Jobs for WordPress

1. Disable WP-Cron

First, you need to disable the default WP-Cron to avoid conflicts and redundant task executions.

  1. Edit wp-config.php: Add the following line to your wp-config.php file, preferably before the line that says /* That's all, stop editing! Happy publishing. */: define('DISABLE_WP_CRON', true);

2. Set Up a Server Cron Job

Next, you need to set up a server cron job that calls the WP-Cron script at regular intervals.

  1. Access Your Server: Log in to your server via SSH or access the control panel provided by your hosting provider.

  2. Open Crontab: Open the crontab editor by running:

    crontab -e
  3. Add the Cron Job: Add the following line to schedule the WP-Cron to run every 5 minutes. Adjust the path to your WordPress installation directory as needed.

    */5 * * * * /usr/bin/php /path/to/your/wordpress/wp-cron.php > /dev/null 2>&1
    • */5 * * * *: This specifies that the cron job runs every 5 minutes.
    • /usr/bin/php: Path to the PHP executable. This may vary based on your server configuration.
    • /path/to/your/wordpress/wp-cron.php: Path to the wp-cron.php file in your WordPress installation.
    • > /dev/null 2>&1: This ensures that cron job output is discarded, preventing emails from being sent on each execution.

3. Ensure Correct Permissions

Make sure the wp-cron.php file and your WordPress installation have the correct file permissions for the server user running the cron job. Typically, this means ensuring the web server user (e.g., www-data, apache, or nginx) has execute permissions.

  1. Check Ownership and Permissions: sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /path/to/your/wordpress sudo chmod -R 755 /path/to/your/wordpress

4. Monitor and Test

After setting up the server cron job, it’s crucial to monitor and test to ensure it’s working correctly.

  1. Manual Run: Run the WP-Cron manually to test:

    /usr/bin/php /path/to/your/wordpress/wp-cron.php
  2. Check Logs: Review your server logs to confirm that the cron job runs as expected. Logs are typically found in /var/log/ or a similar directory depending on your server setup.

  3. Monitor Reservations: Keep an eye on the reservation system to ensure that blocked seats are being freed up correctly after the specified time.


Setting up server cron jobs for WordPress ensures that critical tasks like freeing up blocked reservations are handled reliably and efficiently. This setup avoids the limitations of WP-Cron, providing a more robust solution for high-traffic or time-sensitive applications.

By following this tutorial, you should have a server cron job running every 5 minutes, ensuring that your reservation system functions smoothly without the risk of overbooking or seats being unnecessarily blocked for extended periods.