Saturday, October 8, 2011

ASP.NET: Free scheduling of your tasks (Cron jobs)

If you choose to run your website in a shared hosting environment on windows servers, most webhosts don't allow you to schedule your own tasks, like backup, changing status etc. If you run plug-and-play solutions like WordPress or Drupal you are more or less dependent on scheduled tasks.

There are numerous providers of webbased scheduling of tasks. The tasks can normally be sceduled by specifying the URL of a given webpage on your server and when/how often the should run.

Free scheduling services include:
  1. Host Tracker (1 free job)
  2. My Web Cron (free service)
  3. SetCronJob (limited cron jobs are free)
  4. Web Scheduler (one cron job for free)
For your reference I have also compiled a list of commersial cron job providers (in case the free ones don't fullfill your needs):
  1. SiteUptime
  2. WebCron

The disadvantage when using free scheduling services, is that the number of tasks to schedule is limited, short timeout and the scheduling needs to be re-activated after a few months. If your site is heavily dependent on scheduled tasks, you should consider to use a paid service, or change to VPS or Dedicated Server hosting.

Scheduling in Windows plans
Some webhosts have made their own control panel or use commersial panels providing scheduled tasks as an option to their shared window plans. After checking multiple webhosts I realized that it is rather rear that such option is available. The following known webhosts provide scheduled tasks as an option in their control panel:
  1. HostGator
  2. Mochahost

VPS and Dedicated Servers
If you run your website on a VPS or dedicated server, the need for a web based task scheduler does not apply. You can then either use the built-in scheduler in windows or set up your own windows service. This is possible since you will have full root-access.
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