You are out on a well-deserved vacation. You have completed your editorial calendar to the last detail and planned out your entire content well in advance.
You made use of the built-in schedule post feature that WordPress provides to publish a blog post periodically at scheduled times.
Now you wait for those new post notifications. And wait, and wait… oops, no notifications!
WordPress just failed to publish your post.
While this is not a common problem, why leave it to chance? Especially when you have more tasks to focus on, or in our case, a vacation!
This post is going to outline scheduling in WordPress, what causes missed schedules, and how to fix them. If you do ever come across a missed scheduled post, you’ll know everything you need to know to fix it!
If you’d like to carry out any scheduling task in WordPress, you’ll have to carry out what is referred to as a cron job.
So, the next time your schedule hasn’t gone as per plan, it’s because the cron hasn’t run as expected.
A cron is a software utility that runs on a Unix/Linux operating system. Consider cron as a time-based job scheduler that runs in the background on your server.
In WordPress, the cron and the cron job (the actual scheduling work) are handled by WP-Cron.
WP-Cron is how WordPress handles all the time-based scheduling tasks. It is one of those utilities in WordPress that works in the background and checks if there are any scheduling tasks on every page load.
You could either save it as a draft, publish it right away or schedule it for a later date. All this right from your WordPress editor! It couldn’t get any easier, could it?
WordPress checks on the scheduled posts and publishes them on the set date and time. This way, you can focus on the other essential aspects of running a blog or business.
Or, in some cases, if you have set yourself a push notification to notify you every time a new post is published, you don’t get the notification.
But causes missed schedule errors in WordPress?
If you have any problem related to scheduling on your WordPress site, you can usually blame it on the cron job.
WordPress uses a cron job for any task related to time-based scheduling and is handled by WP-Cron. In addition to scheduling posts, some WordPress core features, such as checking for updates, are also handled by WP-Cron.
The problem of missed scheduled posts arises because WordPress is not using the real cron.
Confused? So were we at first!
Typically, web hosting service providers don’t allow users to access the server settings. This means you don’t have access to configure a cron job and run it at the system level.
A workable solution is that WordPress depends on a user’s visit to trigger the cron. In other words, every time a visitor lands on your website, WordPress checks if there are any pending or scheduled cron jobs it needs to run.
On every page load, WP-Cron checks for a list of scheduled tasks that need to run. Any task that has been scheduled and coincides with the page load will be called and executed.
If you’ve scheduled a task for, let’s say, around noon, and there’s no page load until late evening, a scheduling error could occur.
Does that mean you are totally safe if you have constant traffic on your website? Not really!
For instance, your site could go down temporarily, or you could also be using a WordPress caching plugin. In such cases, WordPress cron may not run as planned.
Now that we’ve understood the what and the why, it’s time to look at the how.
Fixing the WordPress missed schedule error and ensuring your posts get published at the scheduled date and time is relatively simple.
We’ve listed four methods you can use to fix it.
We now know that the cron job is handled by WP-Cron. So, if WordPress is not publishing the scheduled posts, it makes sense to check if WP-Cron is enabled or not.
So, in our first method, we need to check the wp-config.php file.
Now, before you go ahead and edit or even open the wp-config.php file, we recommend that you take a backup of it or your entire WordPress site.
We’ve got a step-by-step guide on how you can backup your entire WordPress site if required.
To edit your wp-config.php file, head over to your website’s hosting control panel. You could also access the file using an FTP, such as FileZilla.
Now, if WP-Cron is disabled, you should find the following line of code,
define (‘DISABLE_WP_CRON’, true);
If the line of code exists, you need to enable WP-Cron. To enable it, all you have to do is delete the line of code.
Don’t forget to save your changes once done. And that should solve the problem.
Of course, if the line of code is not there, it means we’ve got to try the next fix.
You know those times when your system is not working correctly, and the best advice you get is to switch it off and switch it on again? Well, this is more or less the same!
When the default WP-Cron doesn’t run, you explicitly tell WordPress to disable the default option and enable an alternate.
This method works really well, especially if there’s a conflict between the server settings and WP-Cron.
To go about and disable the default WP-Cron and enable an alternate one, we’ll have to edit the same wp-config.php file again.
Open the wp-config.php file following the steps in the previous method, paste the following lines of code,
define(‘DISABLE_WP_CRON’, true); define(‘ALTERNATE_WP_CRON’, true);
This should fix your WordPress missed schedule post error.
When was the last time you fixed a WordPress issue without using a plugin? After all, isn’t there a plugin for just about everything in WordPress?
Very much so! We fix the missed schedule post error in WordPress using a plugin. There’s more than one plugin that you can use too.
Using the two WordPress plugins listed below is probably the easiest way to fix the missed schedule error.
Whenever someone visits your site, the Scheduled Post Trigger WordPress plugin checks for any missed scheduled posts. If it does, it publishes them immediately.
This saves you from logging into your WordPress dashboard and manually publishing those missed scheduled posts constantly.
To use this plugin, go ahead and install the Scheduled Post Trigger WordPress plugin.
Once activated, you are done! There’s no need to configure the plugin. The plugin takes care of all your missed scheduled posts.
Didn’t we say this was easy!
In some cases, even after installing the plugin, you may notice that some of the missed scheduled posts don’t get published. For this, you may need to check on your time settings and ensure you have the correct time zone set.
Another plugin that you can install to take care of your missed scheduled post is the WP Scheduled Post.
In addition to the missed scheduled post error, you can manage your content using a visual calendar and automatically share your posts on social media.
All it takes to use this plugin is to install and activate it. And you are good to go!
Once activated, the plugin takes care of all the missed scheduled posts and publishes them.
The methods covered earlier are straightforward to follow. Not that the following method is in any way complicated, but it does involve a bit of coding and is a little more technical.
If you’re comfortable with this method that involves working with your server, this is a permanent fix for the missed scheduled post error.
The first step is to disable the WP-Cron. This rules out the chances of any kind of conflict.
For this, we will have to edit the wp-config.php file.
Head back to your website hosting control panel. From the file manager, locate wp-config.php under the public_html folder.
As indicated earlier, it is recommended that you take a backup of your files before you start editing these files.
Right-click on the file and select Edit.
Add the following line of code at the bottom of the file.
Don’t forget to save changes once done. We have just disabled the WP-Cron.
Now that we’ve disabled WP-Cron, we need to implement a manual cron. We’ve got to do this through the server.
In your control panel, locate the link ‘Cron Jobs.’ The location of this would vary depending on your hosting service provider.
For instance, in SiteGround, we have a link for Cron Jobs under Devs, located amongst the left-hand navigation links.
Click on ‘Cron Jobs’ once you locate it.
The idea behind adding a cron job here is to set up one at the server-side and do away with WP-Cron.
The steps mentioned below are using the SiteGround hosting service. Irrespective of the host, the steps will be more or less the same across the board.
So to create a new cron job, enter the following line of code under the ‘Command’ field.
wget -O /dev/null https://yourdomain.com/wp-cron.php?doing_wp_cron
Replace ‘yourdomain’ with the actual name of your site.
For example, in our case, it would be
wget -O /dev/null https://wpastra.com/wp-cron.php?doing_wp_cron
The next task is to set up the time interval.
By setting a time interval, you clearly define the frequency at which the cron job has to be triggered. For instance, if you set up an interval time of 10 minutes, this would trigger the cron every 10 minutes.
However, we recommend that you not set a short interval duration since it could overload your server. Instead, consider an interval such as once per hour, or maybe to twice per hour.
Select from one of the options available in the dropdown provided in your hosting control panel.
Once done, click on Create, and you’ve just created a cron job on the server-side.
Henceforth, you needn’t depend on WP-Cron and wouldn’t miss any of your scheduled posts.
The WordPress post scheduling feature is a huge asset for most bloggers.
Using this feature, you can continue publishing excellent content to engage with your audience while focusing on other aspects of your blog or business. Considering a vacation? No sweat! Your posts will be published while you are away.
Occasionally, WordPress does miss scheduled posts, and understandably, it can mess up your entire content calendar. Let alone miss out on a chance to engage with your audience.
Why risk disappointing your readers when a fix is so straightforward?
In fact, we shared four different fixes to help maintain your publishing schedule and avoid disappointing your readers!
Have you ever faced the missed schedule post error? How did you solve it? Did you use one of the methods used above, or is there an alternate that we should know? Let us know in the comments below.