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Kubernetes CronJobs: Everything You Need to Know

In the world of container orchestration and automation, Kubernetes has emerged as a powerful tool to manage containerized applications. Among its many features, Kubernetes offers a handy solution for running tasks at scheduled intervals known as “CronJobs.” Kubernetes is an open-source system that can automate the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. It is also known as K8s.

In Kubernetes, a CronJob is like a choreographer for your tasks. Imagine it as a special kind of task manager that not only performs specific jobs but does it on a timetable you set. It’s the magic wand that brings order and automation to your containerized application’s routine.

As a part of our significant service which is Kubernets consulting service, we made this blog for you. With this guide, we will provide you with a complete guide to Kubernetes CronJobs. We’ll explore Kubernetes CronJobs, breaking down what they are, their advantages, and how to Create Kubernetes Cron Jobs. Read the whole blog, to get a better understanding and to create K8s CronJobs easily.

What Are Kubernetes CronJobs?

In Kubernetes, there’s a special type of object called a “CronJob.” To understand what it does, let’s first talk about regular “Jobs.” A Kubernetes Job is a controller object responsible for carrying out specific tasks in a cluster. It’s different from other controllers like Deployments or ReplicaSets, which continuously adjust the cluster to match a desired configuration.

Jobs, on the other hand, have a more focused purpose. They create and run pods to complete a particular job or task, and once that task is done, the pods are terminated.

Now, a CronJob is essentially a Job, but with a time schedule. It works just like a regular Job, but it creates these jobs on a predefined schedule, similar to how you’d schedule tasks with the Linux cron utility. CronJobs are handy for running tasks at specific times or in a repeating pattern, like daily or weekly.

Why Use CronJobs in Kubernetes?

Kubernetes CronJobs offer a range of advantages for managing containerized applications:

  • Automation: You can automate the execution of repetitive tasks, eliminating the need for manual intervention. This streamlines your workflow and reduces the risk of human errors.
  • Consistency: CronJobs ensure that tasks are executed predictably and reliably. You can rely on them to run at scheduled intervals, maintaining the consistency of your operations.
  • Scalability: Kubernetes allows you to manage parallel executions of jobs across your cluster. This means you can efficiently scale your task executions as your workload demands, optimizing resource utilization.
  • Resource Management: With CronJobs, you have control over resource allocation for job execution. You can specify resource limits and requests, ensuring that your tasks receive the necessary computing resources.

Advantages of Kubernetes CronJobs

In Kubernetes, CronJobs offer several advantages, especially when compared to traditional Linux cron tasks. Here’s why they’re so beneficial:

Containerization Benefits:

Unlike traditional Linux cron jobs, Kubernetes CronJobs run inside containers (Pods). This means you get all the advantages of containerization. Each scheduled task runs in an isolated environment, ensuring that there’s no interference between different tasks. Every recurrence operation takes place within the same controlled environment, with consistent resource allocations like CPU, RAM, and filesystem. Since containers are ephemeral, idempotent, and immutable, there are no remnants from previous executions, preventing one task from affecting another.

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Resource Control:

You have precise control over the resources assigned to each CronJob. You can allocate CPU and memory resources based on job requirements. If necessary, you can easily scale up or down the number of cron tasks running in parallel or use different instance types.

Flexible Configuration:

Kubernetes provides extensive configuration capabilities. You can set up Pods to run additional tasks before the main cron job (initContainers) or use container hooks to run tasks in parallel with startup and shutdown procedures. This flexibility allows you to tailor your cron tasks to meet specific needs.


Kubernetes CronJobs can be easily reproduced during development. You can define a CronJob using a YAML manifest, include it as part of a Helm Chart, or even code it in Terraform. Regardless of your choice, you can manage CronJobs with version control systems like Git. This simplifies the process of moving CronJobs across different environments, such as development, staging, and production. Your CronJobs seamlessly integrate into your CI/CD pipeline’s deployment mechanisms.

Advanced Features:

Kubernetes provides advanced features to handle edge cases. You can configure tasks to avoid running simultaneously, specify the number of retries allowed before considering a Job as failed, and define restart policies. This level of control ensures that your cron tasks behave exactly as needed, even in complex scenarios.

Creating Kubernetes CronJobs

To set up a Kubernetes CronJob, you need to create a manifest file. Here’s an example of a Kubernetes CronJob manifest:

apiVersion: batch/v1
kind: CronJob
  name: helloworld
  schedule: "*/15 * * * *"
          restartPolicy: OnFailure
            - name: task
              image: busybox
                - /bin/sh
                - -c
                - date; echo 'Hello World from';

Let’s break down the key details of this manifest:

  • The object specification defines a CronJob named “helloworld.”
  • The schedule is set to run the job every 15 minutes using the cron-like syntax: “*/15 * * * *.”
  • The jobTemplate specifies the task to be executed. In this example, it prints “Hello World from” along with the current date.
  • The restartPolicy is set to “OnFailure,” meaning the job will restart if it fails.

You may change the cron syntax with the help of if you are not familiar with the syntax of cron. These are the rules that must be followed:

# ┌───────────── minute (0 - 59)
# │ ┌───────────── hour (0 - 23)
# │ │ ┌───────────── day of the month (1 - 31)
# │ │ │ ┌───────────── month (1 - 12)
# │ │ │ │ ┌───────────── day of the week (0 - 6) (Sunday to Saturday;
# │ │ │ │ │                                   7 is also Sunday on some systems)
# │ │ │ │ │                                   OR Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat
# │ │ │ │ │
# * * * * *

Now, you can deploy this CronJob by applying the manifest using the kubectl apply command:

kubectl apply -f cronjob.yaml

The output should be same as this:

cronjob.batch/helloworld created

After applying the CronJob manifest, you can check its status using the following command:

kubectl get cronjob helloworld

The output should present your CronJob with the following information:

helloworld   */15 * * * *   False     0        <none>          10s

This command will display information about your CronJob, including its name, schedule, and status.

The next step is to monitor the execution of the CronJob. You can watch for job executions using the following command:

kubectl get jobs --watch

After approximately 15 minutes (or based on your defined schedule), you should see the output indicating the execution of your CronJob.

NAME                    COMPLETIONS   DURATION   AGE
helloworld-4111706356   0/1           0s         0s
helloworld-4111706356   1/1           1s         15min

If you don’t want to wait for the scheduled run, you can manually trigger the CronJob using the following command:

kubectl create job helloworld --from=cronjob/helloworld

Your output should indicate that the CronJob named “helloworld” has been successfully scheduled at the specified time mentioned in the “LAST SCHEDULE” column.

helloworld   */15 * * * *     False     0        10s             5min

This command creates a Kubernetes Job for the CronJob, effectively triggering its execution.

To verify that the CronJob performed correctly, check the logs of the associated Pod using this command:

kubectl logs $(kubectl get pods --selector=job-name=helloworld -o=jsonpath='{.items[0]}')

This command will display the logs from the Pod, showing the output of the task executed by the CronJob.

The output should be same as this:

Fri May 29 11:02:09 UTC 2022
Hello World from

Finally, if you want to pause or delete the CronJob, you can use these commands:

To suspend the CronJob:

kubectl patch cronjobs helloworld -p '{"spec" : {"suspend" : true }}'

To delete the CronJob:

kubectl delete cronjob helloworld

Remember that deleting the CronJob will also remove any associated Jobs and Pods, effectively clearing your cron job history. In real-world scenarios, you should use your custom container images that include all the necessary dependencies for your tasks. This approach ensures consistency and reliability in your cron job executions.

Scaling CronJobs can be challenging. If your cron tasks run in parallel with the same input parameters, it’s essential to ensure that they can execute simultaneously without causing conflicts. Monitoring and understanding your cron jobs are crucial to identify and resolve any issues, whether they involve retries or successful executions.

In case you encounter problems with your Kubernetes Cron Job, there are two common areas to investigate. First, check your CronJob manifest for any errors. Second, review your cron task’s logic for any issues or failures. To help with monitoring and analysis, consider using tools like Cronitor, which offers cron job monitoring and execution tracking for Kubernetes projects.

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Kubernetes CronJobs Monitoring and Considerations

When defining a CronJob in Kubernetes, there are several considerations to keep in mind:

CronJob Concurrency Policy

CronJobs in Kubernetes have built-in concurrency controls, a significant departure from Unix cron. By default, Kubernetes enables concurrency, meaning a scheduled CronJob run will start even if the last run is incomplete. This might not be suitable for jobs requiring sequential execution. You can control concurrency by configuring the concurrency policy on CronJob objects, with three possible values:

  • Allow: This is the default setting, enabling concurrency.
  • Forbid: Prevents concurrent runs. Kubernetes skips scheduled starts if the last run hasn’t finished.
  • Replace: Terminating incomplete runs when the next job is scheduled enables the new run to proceed seamlessly. This can be applied to create CronJobs permitting only a single run at any time.

Starting Deadline

The starting deadline determines if a scheduled CronJob run can start. This is a Kubernetes-specific concept, defining how long each job run is eligible to begin after the scheduled time has lapsed. The starting deadline is controlled by the startingDeadlineSeconds field. For instance, a starting deadline of 15 seconds allows a limited delay, where a job scheduled for 10:00:00 can start if the previous run ends at 10:00:14 but not if it ends at 10:00:15.

Retaining Job History

Two important values are the successfulJobsHistoryLimit and failedJobsHistoryLimit. These values control the time limit for retaining the history of successful and failed jobs, respectively. By default, three successful jobs and one failed job are retained. Adjusting these values can keep the history for a more extended period, which is useful for debugging purposes.

CronJob Monitoring

Kubernetes provides monitoring capabilities for CronJobs using tools like the kubectl command. The get command offers a CronJob’s definition and job run details. Each job within a CronJob should be labeled with the CronJob name and an appended starting timestamp. Once you identify an individual job, you can use a kubectl command to retrieve container logs, aiding in monitoring and troubleshooting.

$ kubectl logs job/example-cron-1648239040

Kubernetes CronJobs Errors

Kubernetes Not Scheduling CronJob

Kubernetes CronJobs Not Triggering as Scheduled

If your Kubernetes CronJobs aren’t firing as per the schedule, it can be a puzzling issue. Even when manually triggering the Job seems to work, the associated Pod for the cron job might not show up.

Here’s a common scenario:

Suppose you have a CronJob set to run every 60 seconds in a Microk8s instance, but it’s not happening. When attempting to manually initiate the Job with the following command:

k create job --from=cronjob/demo-cron-job demo-cron-job

Although the Job runs successfully after executing this command, it deviates from the scheduled timeframe. To provide more context, here’s the YAML-formatted manifest of the API object:

apiVersion: batch/v1beta1

kind: CronJob


  name: demo-cron-job

  namespace: {{ }}

  labels: Helm {{ .Release.Name }} {{ .Release.Namespace }}


  schedule: "* * * * *"

  concurrencyPolicy: Replace

  successfulJobsHistoryLimit: 1






          - name: demo-cron-job

            image: demoImage

            imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent


            - /bin/sh

            - -c

            - /usr/bin/curl -k http://restfulservices/api/demo-job

          restartPolicy: OnFailure

A potential solution is to restart the entire namespace and redeploy. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to examine the following details in this scenario:

  • Previous Functionality: Was the scheduling of the CronJob functioning correctly at some point and has now ceased?
  • Pod Status Check: If any cron pods display a “failed” status, investigate those pods to identify the cause of the failure.
  • Event Analysis: Utilize the following command to inspect if the CronJob resource has any relevant events:
kubectl describe cronjob demo-cron-job -n tango

This command will provide detailed information about the events associated with the specified CronJob, aiding in the identification of potential issues or errors.

  • Execution Duration: Examine whether the code executed by the CronJob takes more than a minute to complete. If so, the schedule might be too congested and needs adjustment to allow for sufficient time.
  • Controller Restrictions: The CronJob controller has built-in restrictions. For instance, it may freeze a job and stop scheduling it if it misses the schedule more than 100 times. Check for such restrictions, and you can find more details here.
  • Cluster Scaling: Verify if you scale the cluster down during periods of inactivity. Scaling down may affect the scheduling of jobs.
  • Webhooks or Plugins: Check for the presence of any third-party webhooks or plugins installed in the cluster. These components can potentially interfere with pod creation and scheduling.
  • Existing Jobs in Namespace: Use the following command to check if there are any jobs created in the namespace:
kubectl get jobs -n <your-namespace>

If multiple job objects exist, investigate to determine why they didn’t generate pods as expected. This examination can reveal issues with job execution or pod creation.

Kubernetes CronJob Stops Scheduling Jobs

This issue occurs when a CronJob, which is responsible for running specific tasks at scheduled intervals, stops scheduling the specified job. It often happens when some part of the job consistently fails for several attempts.

For example, let’s say a user sets up a CronJob, and it works fine for a while. However, at some point, it stops scheduling new jobs. The problem may be related to a step in the job, such as pulling a container image, that fails.

apiVersion: batch/v1beta1

kind: CronJob


  labels: demo-cron-job Tiller cron cron-0.1.0

  name: demo-cron-job


  concurrencyPolicy: Forbid

  failedJobsHistoryLimit: 1



      creationTimestamp: null





          - args:

            - -c

            - npm run script


            - /bin/sh



            imagePullPolicy: Always

            name: cron

            resources: {}


              runAsUser: 1000

            terminationMessagePath: /dev/demo-termination-log

            terminationMessagePolicy: File

          dnsPolicy: ClusterFirst

          restartPolicy: Never

          schedulerName: default-scheduler

          securityContext: {}

          terminationGracePeriodSeconds: 30

  schedule: 0/30 * * * *

  successfulJobsHistoryLimit: 3

  suspend: false

status: {}

In this situation, the problem lies in the specification of the CronJob. The spec.restartPolicy is set to “Never,” meaning the entire Pod fails whenever a container in the Pod fails. However, the manifest doesn’t include the .spec.backoffLimit field, which determines how many times the Job will retry before being considered a failed Job. By default, this value is set to 6. Consequently, the Job attempts to pull the container image six times before marking it as a failed job.

To resolve this problem, consider the following solutions:

  • Specify the .spec.backoffLimit field and set a higher value to allow more retries.
  • Set the spec.restartPolicy to “OnFailure” so that the Pod stays on the node, and only the failing container reruns.
  • Consider setting the imagePullPolicy to “IfNotPresent.” This prevents the forced re-pulling of the image on every job start unless the images are retagged.


With this guide, we explored Kubernetes CronJobs, breaking down what they are, advantages, and how to Create Kubernetes CronJobs. Kubernetes CronJobs provide a robust mechanism for automating tasks, maintaining consistency, scaling operations, and managing resources effectively in your containerized environment. Kubernetes CronJobs offer enhanced isolation, resource control, flexibility, reproducibility, and advanced features, making them a powerful tool for scheduling and managing tasks within your Kubernetes cluster.


Q1. What is a CronJob in Kubernetes?

In Kubernetes, a CronJob is a scheduled task that automates the execution of specific jobs or commands at predetermined intervals. It’s like a timer for running tasks in a containerized environment. CronJobs enables automation, making it easy to perform repetitive tasks in a Kubernetes cluster.

Q2. Why use CronJobs in Kubernetes?

Kubernetes CronJobs offers several advantages, including automation of repetitive tasks, consistent and predictable task execution, scalability for parallel job executions, and precise control over resource management.

Q3. What is the difference between k8s jobs and CronJobs?

The main difference between Kubernetes Jobs and CronJobs is in their scheduling. Jobs are designed for one-time, manual or batch execution, while CronJobs are used for recurring tasks scheduled at specific time intervals. Jobs are like doing something once, while CronJobs is like setting a timer to do something regularly.

Q4. How do I schedule a Kubernetes job?

To schedule a Kubernetes job, you need to create a manifest file (YAML) that defines the job details, including the image to run and any commands or arguments. You then use the kubectl apply command to deploy the job. If you want it to run regularly, consider using a CronJob instead, where you specify the schedule using the cron syntax in the manifest.

Q5. How do I create a Kubernetes CronJob?

To create a Kubernetes CronJob, you need to define a manifest file in YAML format. This file includes details such as the schedule, job template, and the task to be executed. Once created, you can deploy the CronJob using the kubectl apply command.