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 Oracle Crontab Command Line Tips
Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting

Advanced Oracle Utilities: The Definitive Reference by Rampant TechPress is written by four of the top Oracle database experts (Bert Scalzo, Donald Burleson, and Steve Callan).  The following is an excerpt from the book.

Cron Environment Variable Settings

Each environment variable line consists of a variable name, an equal sign (=), and a value.  Values that contain spaces need to be enclosed within quotes.  The following are some examples of environment variable settings:


color = red

title = ‘My Life in a Nutshell’


It is important to remember that variable names are case sensitive and that system variables are usually defined with upper case names, while user defined variables are defined with lower case names.

Crontab Command Line Tips

Each crontab command line is comprised of six positional fields specifying the time, date and shell script or command to be run.  The format of the crontab command line is described in Table 11.2 below:





Day of Month


Day of Week


Valid values






Command path/command

Table 11.2:  Crontab Command Line Format


Each of these fields can contain a single number, a range of numbers indicated with a hyphen (such as 2-4), a list of specific values separated by commas (like 2,3,4) or a combination of these designations separated by commas (such as 1,3-5).  Any of these fields may also contain an asterisk (*) indicating every possible value of this field.  This can all get rather confusing, so here are a few examples that are all part of the same crontab file.  It has been broken up so as to explain each entry individually.


# Use the Korn Shell for all shell scripts



This sets the default shell for these cron scripts by setting the SHELL environment variable.



# Run the Weekly file cleanup task at 6:00AM every Monday

# and send any output to a file called cleanup.lst in the

# /tmp directory


00 06 * * 1 /home/terry/cleanup.ksh > /tmp/cleanup.lst


This entry will run the script cleanup.ksh at 0 minutes past the hour of 6:00 am, every day of the month, every month of the year, but only on Mondays.  This illustrates that for a crontab to execute, all of the conditions specified must be met. So even though it was stated that the designation is every day of the month by making the third field a wildcard, the day also has to meet the final condition that the day is a Monday.



# Run the Weekly Management Report every Monday at 7:00 AM

# and save a copy of the report in my /home directory


00 07 * * 1 /home/terry/weekly_mgmt_rpt.ksh wprd > /home/terry/weekly_mgmt_rpt.lst


This entry is very similar but will execute at 7:00 am.  Since the hour is in 24-hour format (midnight is actually represented as 00), then 07 represents 7:00 a.m.  Again, this entry will only be run once a week.



# Weekly Full Backup - run every Sunday at 1:30AM


30 01 * * 0 /home/terry/full_backup.ksh wprd > /tmp/full_backup.lst


Here this script is specified to be run at 30 minutes past the hour, the first hour of the day, but only on Sundays.  Remember that in the day of the week column, Sunday can be represented by either 0 or 7.



# Nightly Incremental Backup - run Monday-Saturday at 1:30AM


30 01 * * 1-6 /home/terry/incr_backup.ksh  > /tmp/incr_backup.lst


In this crontab entry, it shows the same indication for hour and minute as the last entry, but a range has been specified for the day of the week.  The range 1-6 will cause the incr_backup.ksh to be executed at 1:30 every morning from Monday through Saturday.



# Low disk space alert ... run every 15 minutes, sending

# alerts to key individuals via e-mail


00,15,30,45 * * * * /home/terry/free_space.ksh > /tmp/free_space.lst


This entry has minutes separated by a comma indicating that it should be run at each of the indicated times.  Since all the other fields are wildcards (*), the entry will be run on the hour (00), 15 minutes past the hour, 30 minutes past the hour and 45 minutes past the hour.



# Lunch Time Notification - run Monday-Friday at Noon -

# sends a message to all users indicating it's lunch time


00 12 * * 1-5 /home/terry/lunch_time.ksh wprd > /tmp/lunch_time.lst


This lunch reminder is set up to run at 12:00 p.m. Monday through Friday only.


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