If you run a website, you probably understand the importance of planning ahead. That’s why the WordPress missed schedule error can be so frustrating: even if you do everything right, your site may still fail to publish your posts on time.
Fortunately, there’s a way to get your schedule back on track. By following along with our complete troubleshooting guide, you can find and correct the cause of your missed WordPress posts.
In this article, we’ll cover a few reasons why your WordPress site might not be publishing scheduled posts. Then we’ll walk you through four steps to fix the problem. Let’s dive right in!
Why your WordPress site is missing scheduled posts
WordPress is a user-friendly platform. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not complex. As such, you’re likely to run into technical issues from time to time. One of these is the dreaded WordPress missed schedule error:
This issue can be particularly frustrating, as it won’t resolve itself. Once a post’s scheduled time has passed, WordPress won’t try to publish it again. In addition, there’s no single reason you might run into this error. Instead, there are a few possible causes.
One of the simplest sources is an error in your WordPress settings. For example, you may have the incorrect time zone selected, which can result in scheduled posts going live at the wrong time.
Alternatively, the underlying cause could be more complicated. When you instruct your website to publish a post at a set point in the future, WordPress uses scheduling commands called ‘crons’ to get the job done.
However, unlike cron commands that exist on your site’s server, WordPress crons don’t happen on a set schedule. Instead, they’re triggered when a user visits your site.
This means that your website will check for scheduled posts if and when a user visits your site. If you don’t get any visits at the right time, you can encounter the WordPress missed schedule error. This can be especially troublesome on low-traffic sites, as you might go hours without a visit.
However, you can still run into this problem even if you have consistent visitors. Caching plugins, while extremely useful, can potentially interfere with the cron processes. Other potential causes include your site temporarily going down, a browser cache issue, or a lack of memory.
Fortunately, even the more complex of these issues have relatively simple solutions. All you have to do is troubleshoot your missed schedule error to find the root cause. Once you understand where the problem is coming from, you can directly address it and get your site back to normal.
How to fix the WordPress missed schedule error (in 4 steps)
Now, let’s walk through four steps to help you troubleshoot your WordPress missed schedule error. Depending on the root cause, you might be able to fix the problem within the first step. Otherwise, keep working through these techniques one at a time until the issue is resolved.
1. Adjust your WordPress settings
Let’s start by checking for the simplest cause: incorrect WordPress settings. Whether you recently made a change or are just beginning to configure your site, a few adjustments could be all you need.
First, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right time zone. This is an easy setting to miss, especially if you were in a rush to set up your site. If your time zone isn’t set correctly, your cron jobs might be working perfectly fine – just on the wrong clock.
To view your site’s current time zone, go to Settings → General. Scroll down to find the Timezone field:
From there, make sure to choose a city that shares your time zone. Alternatively, you could also choose the exact Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) offset. Remember to click on Save Changes when you’re done.
If that doesn’t do the trick, you can also try clearing your browser cache. This won’t always fix the issue, but it’s an easy step and a good maintenance task to perform regularly.
Next, you can check your WordPress caching plugins. Similar to your browser, they could be saving outdated content that interferes with your cron jobs. Exactly how you proceed will depend on the plugin you’re using; let’s look at two examples. Most other caching plugins will work in a similar way.
If you’re running the popular WP Super Cache, go to Settings → WP Super Cache → Easy. Then click on the Delete Cache button:
If you’re using W3 Total Cache, the process is similar. Go to Performance → Dashboard, and choose the empty all caches button right at the top:
Then, check to see if your scheduled post issue has been solved. If you’re still running into trouble, continue on to the next method.
2. Increase your site’s memory limit
A low memory limit is one of the most common WordPress errors you can encounter. It has far-reaching effects, from limiting the media you can upload to causing the WordPress missed schedule error. As such, it’s a smart idea to increase it if you can.
First, you’ll want to find out what your current memory limit is. You can do so by going to Tools → Site Health → Info → Server. You’ll see a section for PHP memory limit:
If your limit is fairly high, as in the above example, this probably isn’t causing your scheduling problem. However, if it’s under 256M, we recommend that you increase it.
Fortunately, this is a fairly simple process. You’ll need to use your favorite File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client to access your site’s files. We like FileZilla because it’s open-source and comes recommended by WordPress, but any program will do.
Open up your FTP client. Then go to your root folder and find the wp-config.php file. Open it, and copy the following code:
Paste this code into the bottom of the file. It should be near the end, but before the That’s all, stop editing! message:
Save the file and re-upload it to your site.
If you’re still having issues with scheduled posts after that, you can also consider reaching out to your web host. They can help you boost your site’s memory limit further, although it may require you to upgrade your hosting plan.
3. Install and active Scheduled Post Trigger
Not all technical issues can be solved directly. Sometimes you need to use a workaround instead. Fortunately, WordPress thrives on helpful community-driven plugins. For this step, we’ll be using Scheduled Post Trigger:
This plugin doesn’t actually fix the underlying cause of the WordPress missed schedule error. Instead, it acts as a backup: whenever a visitor loads your site, it checks for missed posts and publishes them immediately. So if you miss the original schedule date, this plugin will at least make sure your post goes out as soon as possible after that.
One of the advantages of this solution is that it’s fairly hands-off. All you have to do is activate and install the plugin. It will then automatically check and publish missed posts. Your cron jobs will still run as normal, but with an added feature to ensure that the posts go live when a visitor does arrive.
Scheduled Post Trigger’s script is also impressively light. Running too many programs can slow down your site, but using plugins with well-written code usually prevents this issue.
If posts are still getting missed after installing this plugin, make sure you’ve set the correct time zone (see Step 1 above). Similar to your cron jobs, the wrong time zone setting can affect the plugin’s ability to work properly. It might also conflict with any caching plugins you have installed.
This option might not be for everyone. It doesn’t fix the underlying cron issues, and still requires a user to visit your site before it will work. If you’re looking for a more complete solution, check out our final suggestion.
4. Set up a real cron job instead of wp-cron
Earlier in this post, we talked about how the WordPress cron system is different from a regular server cron job. To recap:
- WordPress cron (wp-cron) – only executes when someone visits your site.
- Real server cron – always executes on time. If you set the cron to execute every fifteen minutes, it will always execute every 15 minutes even if your server doesn’t have traffic.
Remember, “cron” is the system that WordPress uses to make sure scheduled tasks happen on time, including scheduled posts.
If you want to make sure your scheduled posts always go out on time (especially on a low-traffic site), the server cron is much more reliable than using WordPress’ built-in cron system.
Thankfully, it’s possible to disable the WordPress cron system (called “wp-cron”) and use a server-level cron job instead.
Setting this up isn’t too technical, but it does have a few steps. So if you want implement this tip, you can follow our full guide to disable wp-cron and replace it with a real cron job.
If you’re a developer or advanced user, the free WP Crontrol plugin can also be useful for troubleshooting your site’s cron jobs.
Fix the WordPress missed schedule error today
In this article, we showed you how to fix the WordPress missed schedule error in four steps:
- Adjust your WordPress time zone and caching settings.
- Increase your site’s memory limit using an FTP client.
- Use Scheduled Post Trigger as a fallback.
- Set up a real server cron job instead of relying on wp-cron
Do you have any questions about getting your posting back on schedule? Let us know in the comments section below!