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A scalable, traceable job queue for background processing large queues of tasks in WordPress. Designed for distribution in WordPress plugins - no server access required.

WordPress Job Queue with Background Processing

Action Scheduler is a library for triggering a WordPress hook to run at some time in the future. Each hook can be scheduled with unique data, to allow callbacks to perform operations on that data. The hook can also be scheduled to run on one or more occassions.

Think of it like an extension to do_action() which adds the ability to delay and repeat a hook.

It just so happens, this functionality also creates a robust job queue for background processing large queues of tasks in WordPress. With the additional of logging and an administration interface, that also provide tracability on your tasks processed in the background.

Battle-Tested Background Processing

Every month, Action Scheduler processes millions of payments for Subscriptions, webhooks for WooCommerce, as well as emails and other events for a range of other plugins.

It’s been seen on live sites processing queues in excess of 50,000 jobs and doing resource intensive operations, like processing payments and creating orders, in 10 concurrent queues at a rate of over 10,000 actions / hour without negatively impacting normal site operations.

This is all possible on infrastructure and WordPress sites outside the control of the plugin author.

Action Scheduler is specifically designed for distribution in WordPress plugins (and themes) - no server access required. If your plugin needs background processing, especially of large sets of tasks, Action Scheduler can help.

How it Works

Action Scheduler uses a WordPress custom post type, creatively named scheduled-action, to store the hook name, arguments and scheduled date for an action that should be triggered at some time in the future.

The scheduler will attempt to run every minute by attaching itself as a callback to the 'action_scheduler_run_schedule' hook, which is scheduled using WordPress’s built-in WP-Cron system.

When triggered, Action Scheduler will check for posts of the scheduled-action type that have a post_date at or before this point in time i.e. actions scheduled to run now or at sometime in the past.

Batch Processing Background Jobs

If there are actions to be processed, Action Scheduler will stake a unique claim for a batch of 20 actions and begin processing that batch. The PHP process spawned to run the batch will then continue processing batches of 20 actions until it times out or exhausts available memory.

If your site has a large number of actions scheduled to run at the same time, Action Scheduler will process more than one batch at a time. Specifically, when the 'action_scheduler_run_schedule' hook is triggered approximately one minute after the first batch began processing, a new PHP process will stake a new claim to a batch of actions which were not claimed by the previous process. It will then begin to process that batch.

This will continue until all actions are processed using a maximum of 5 concurrent queues.


Before processing a batch, the scheduler will remove any existing claims on actions which have been sitting in a queue for more than five minutes.

Action Scheduler will also trash any actions which were completed more than a month ago.

If an action runs for more than 5 minutes, Action Scheduler will assume the action has timed out and will mark it as failed. However, if all callbacks attached to the action were to successfully complete sometime after that 5 minute timeout, its status would later be updated to completed.

Traceable Background Processing

Did your background job run?

Never be left wondering with Action Scheduler’s built-in record keeping.

All events for each action are logged in the comments table and displayed in the administration interface.

The events logged by default include when an action:

If it fails with an error that can be recorded, that error will be recorded in the log and visible in administration interface, making it possible to trace what went wrong at some point in the past on a site you didn’t have access to in the past.

Actions can also be grouped together using a custom taxonomy named action-group.


Action Scheduler is developed and maintained by Automattic with significant early development completed by Flightless.

Collaboration is cool. We’d love to work with you to improve Action Scheduler. Pull Requests welcome.