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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.

Background Processing at Scale

Action Scheduler’s default processing is designed to work reliably across all different hosting environments. In order to achieve that, the default processing thresholds are very conservative.

Specifically, Action Scheduler will only process actions until:

On sites with large queues, this can result in very slow processing time.

While using WP CLI to process queues is the best approach to increasing processing speed, on occasion, that is not a viable option. In these cases, it’s also possible to increase the processing thresholds in Action Scheduler to increase the rate at which actions are processed by the default WP Cron queue runner.

Increasing Time Limit

By default, Action Scheduler will only process actions for a maximum of 30 seconds. This time limit minimises the risk of a script timeout on unknown hosting environments, some of which enforce 30 second timeouts.

If you know your host supports longer than this time limit for web requests, you can increase this time limit. This allows more actions to be processed in each request and reduces the lag between processing each queue, greating speeding up the processing rate of scheduled actions.

For example, the following snippet will increase the timelimit to 2 minutes (120 seconds):

function eg_increase_time_limit( $time_limit ) {
	return 120;
add_filter( 'action_scheduler_queue_runner_time_limit', 'eg_increase_time_limit' );

Some of the known host time limits are:

Increasing Batch Size

By default, Action Scheduler will claim a batch of 25 actions. This small batch size is because the default time limit is only 30 seconds; however, if you know your actions are processing very quickly, e.g. taking microseconds not seconds, or that you have more than 30 second available to process each batch, increasing the batch size can improve performance.

This is because claiming a batch has some overhead, so the less often a batch needs to be claimed, the faster actions can be processed.

For example, to increase the batch size to 100, we can use the following function:

function eg_increase_action_scheduler_batch_size( $batch_size ) {
	return 100;
add_filter( 'action_scheduler_queue_runner_batch_size', 'eg_increase_action_scheduler_batch_size' );

Increasing Concurrent Batches

By default, Action Scheduler will run up to 5 concurrent batches of actions. This is to prevent consuming all the available connections or processes on your webserver.

However, your server may allow a large number of connection, for example, because it has a high value for Apache’s MaxClients setting or PHP-FPM’s pm.max_children setting.

If this is the case, you can use the 'action_scheduler_queue_runner_concurrent_batches' filter to increase the number of conncurrent batches allowed, and therefore speed up processing large numbers of actions scheduled to be processed simultaneously.

For example, to increase the allowed number of concurrent queues to 10, we can use the following code:

function eg_increase_action_scheduler_concurrent_batches( $concurrent_batches ) {
	return 10;
add_filter( 'action_scheduler_queue_runner_concurrent_batches', 'eg_increase_action_scheduler_concurrent_batches' );

Increasing Initialisation Rate of Runners

By default, Action scheduler initiates at most, one queue runner every time the 'action_scheduler_run_queue' action is triggered by WP Cron.

Because this action is only triggered at most once every minute, if a queue is only allowed to process for one minute, then there will never be more than one queue processing actions, greatly reducing the processing rate.

To handle larger queues on more powerful servers, it’s a good idea to initiate additional queue runners whenever the 'action_scheduler_run_queue' action is run.

That can be done by initiated additional secure requests to our server via loopback requests.

The code below demonstrates how to create 5 loopback requests each time a queue begins

 * Trigger 5 additional loopback requests with unique URL params.
function eg_request_additional_runners() {

	// allow self-signed SSL certificates
	add_filter( 'https_local_ssl_verify', '__return_false', 100 );

	for ( $i = 0; $i < 5; $i++ ) {
		$response = wp_remote_post( admin_url( 'admin-ajax.php' ), array(
			'method'      => 'POST',
			'timeout'     => 45,
			'redirection' => 5,
			'httpversion' => '1.0',
			'blocking'    => false,
			'headers'     => array(),
			'body'        => array(
				'action'     => 'eg_create_additional_runners',
				'instance'   => $i,
				'eg_nonce' => wp_create_nonce( 'eg_additional_runner_' . $i ),
			'cookies'     => array(),
		) );
add_action( 'action_scheduler_run_queue', 'eg_request_additional_runners', 0 );

 * Handle requests initiated by eg_request_additional_runners() and start a queue runner if the request is valid.
function eg_create_additional_runners() {

	if ( isset( $_POST['eg_nonce'] ) && isset( $_POST['instance'] ) && wp_verify_nonce( $_POST['eg_nonce'], 'eg_additional_runner_' . $_POST['instance'] ) ) {

add_action( 'wp_ajax_nopriv_eg_create_additional_runners', 'eg_create_additional_runners', 0 );

High Volume Plugin

It’s not necessary to add all of this code yourself, the folks at Prospress have created a handy plugin to get access to each of these increases - the Action Scheduler - High Volume plugin.