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Drupal requires the server to do certain things periodically, for example send out mail, poll other sites for RSS feeds and so forth. Part of the installation process solves this problem with the program cron on Drupal's host server, but what if you do not have access to the server? Fortunately there is a solution in the form of a module called Poormanscron. As with all modules you will need right access to the modules folder on the server. Here we are at the Poormanscron webpage, which is Drupal.org/project/poormanscron. We have already downloaded and install this module so we will go straight to our administrative page to turn it On. And just check the check box here and save configuration, from here we can go to the Administer page and if we do a search for Poor we will see there it is. We will click on that to configure it.
As with the cron program you can choose how frequently the cron program runs, however you do not get the opportunity to choose at which minute it runs as do with cron tabs. We will just say we wanted to run every half hour. To Retry interval is in case the cron program is not able to run. It will keep trying after 10 minutes has passed if you leave it in the Default. You have a choice of whether to log successful cron runs and to log Poormanscron progress. I recommend that you leave these in their default settings, log in successful cron runs means a little show up on the reports page, where as log in the progress really adds a lot of information that you do not need to that page. We will click on Save Configuration and we are done, the configuration options have been saved.
There is one other thing that you should do though which is to turn off the cron tab that you turned On earlier if you have done so. On the Mac what you would do is go back to the finder hide everything, you will find a program in the applications folder. Down at the bottom in utilities called Terminal that lets you enter the command line interface. If you are running on a Windows machine you simply say run and then cmd, which will bring up your command line interface.
For Windows users, the task scheduler function is a good replacement for cron. A good explanation of how to use this function can be found at the Drupal.org website. Follow the URL below for more information. We are going to edit this cron tab again. To do so you type crontab and then -e for edit. And there is the line that we entered earlier. If you are using a Macintosh in its default configuration you will be using an editor called VI. The command in VI to delete that line is Shift+D, and then the command to get out of there is :WQ for write and quit. When you do this it tells you that it installed a new crontab and you are all set.
Poormanscron is one of the simplest modules out there but it also essential for anyone who does not have access to a cron application and who does not wants to use an outside cron service such as webcron.org. In fact I use it on all my sites, even though I do have access to a cron application, because it is so much easier to manage then running crontabs.
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