A cron job for rails: best practices? – Dev

The best answers to the question “A cron job for rails: best practices?” in the category Dev.


What’s the best way to run scheduled tasks in a Rails environment? Script/runner? Rake? I would like to run the task every few minutes.


I’m using the rake approach (as supported by heroku)

With a file called lib/tasks/cron.rake ..

task :cron => :environment do
  puts "Pulling new requests..."
  puts "done."

To execute from the command line, this is just “rake cron”. This command can then be put on the operating system cron/task scheduler as desired.

Update this is quite an old question and answer! Some new info:

  • the heroku cron service I referenced has since been replaced by Heroku Scheduler
  • for frequent tasks (esp. where you want to avoid the Rails environment startup cost) my preferred approach is to use system cron to call a script that will either (a) poke a secure/private webhook API to invoke the required task in the background or (b) directly enqueue a task on your queuing system of choice


I’ve used the extremely popular Whenever on projects that rely heavily on scheduled tasks, and it’s great. It gives you a nice DSL to define your scheduled tasks instead of having to deal with crontab format. From the README:

Whenever is a Ruby gem that provides a
clear syntax for writing and deploying
cron jobs.

Example from the README:

every 3.hours do
  runner "MyModel.some_process"       
  rake "my:rake:task"                 
  command "/usr/bin/my_great_command"

every 1.day, :at => '4:30 am' do 
  runner "MyModel.task_to_run_at_four_thirty_in_the_morning"


Assuming your tasks don’t take too long to complete, just create a new controller with an action for each task. Implement the logic of the task as controller code, Then set up a cronjob at the OS level that uses wget to invoke the URL of this controller and action at the appropriate time intervals. The advantages of this method are you:

  1. Have full access to all your Rails objects just as in a normal controller.
  2. Can develop and test just as you do normal actions.
  3. Can also invoke your tasks adhoc from a simple web page.
  4. Don’t consume any more memory by firing up additional ruby/rails processes.


In our project we first used whenever gem, but confronted some problems.

We then switched to RUFUS SCHEDULER gem, which turned out to be very easy and reliable for scheduling tasks in Rails.

We have used it for sending weekly & daily mails, and even for running some periodic rake tasks or any method.

The code used in this is like:

    require 'rufus-scheduler'

    scheduler = Rufus::Scheduler.new

    scheduler.in '10d' do
      # do something in 10 days

    scheduler.at '2030/12/12 23:30:00' do
      # do something at a given point in time

    scheduler.every '3h' do
      # do something every 3 hours

    scheduler.cron '5 0 * * *' do
      # do something every day, five minutes after midnight
      # (see "man 5 crontab" in your terminal)

To learn more: https://github.com/jmettraux/rufus-scheduler