Understanding WP-Cron Scheduling

Unlike a traditional system cron that schedules tasks for specific times (i.e. every hour at 5 minutes past the hour), WP-Cron uses intervals to simulate a system cron. WP-Cron is given the time for the first task and an interval, the time in seconds, after which to repeat the task. For example, if you schedule a task to begin at 2:00PM with an interval of 300 seconds (five minutes), the task would first run at 2:00PM and then again at 2:05PM and every five minutes thereafter.

To simplify scheduling tasks, WordPress offers three default intervals and an easy method for adding custom intervals.

The default intervals provided by WordPress are:

  • hourly
  • twicedaily
  • daily

To add a custom interval, you can create a filter, such as:

add_filter( 'cron_schedules', 'example_add_cron_interval' );

function example_add_cron_interval( $schedules ) {
	$schedules['five_seconds'] = array(
		'interval' => 5,
		'display'  => esc_html__( 'Every Five Seconds' ),

	return $schedules;

This filter function creates a new interval that will allow us to run a cron task every five seconds.

Note: All intervals are in seconds.