Really getting frustrated trying to get cron to work.

WP 4.7 / CiviCRM 4.7.14

using via ssh:

/usr/bin/wget 'https://hbb.org.uk/wp-content/plugins/civicrm/civicrm/bin/cron.php?name=JohnB&pass=123&key=456'

Generates the error.

my settings.php has:

if (!defined('CIVICRM_SITE_KEY')) { define( 'CIVICRM_SITE_KEY', '456'); }

Where the two keys are identical. There are no special characters, it's a 20 char string, I've re-entered a new string into both settings.php and the wget. Each time generates a new error log file with the msg.

When I enter the url into Chrome I get "Invalid key". Yet they're identical in the wget and settings.php.

Is there some super-sekret settings file somewhere?

1 Answer 1


Site key should be defined in civicrm.settings.php, not settings.php, which isn't necessarily bootstrapped when cron is run.

If that was mis-stated in your question (likely, since you're using WordPress), you can try to troubleshoot this by debugging.

  • Find your CiviCRM log and your CiviCRM root.
  • In your CiviCRM root, find the file CRM/Utils/System.php.

  • Find this section (around line 553):

    if ($key !== $siteKey) {
      return self::authenticateAbort(
        "ERROR: Invalid key value sent. " . $docAdd . "\n",
  • Add two debugging lines so that section now looks like:

    if ($key !== $siteKey) {
      CRM_Core_Error::debug_var('key', $key);
      CRM_Core_Error::debug_var('siteKey', $siteKey);
      return self::authenticateAbort(
        "ERROR: Invalid key value sent. " . $docAdd . "\n",
  • Run your cron job again, get the same error.

  • Check the CiviCRM log. At or very near the bottom of the log file, you should see lines that look like:

    $key = 456;
    $siteKey = 456;

...except I'm guessing that one of them looks slightly wrong! Use that information to either fix this problem and/or update this question with more info.

  • Don't forget to remove those last two lines when you're done! Jan 12, 2017 at 2:13
  • Yes, sorry, my laziness 'CIVICRM_SITE_KEY', '456' is defined in civicrm.settings.php Jan 12, 2017 at 19:46
  • Weirdly error files are being saved in the domain home so I've public_html & subdomains folders .bash_history .bashrc .htaccess and then a cron.php?name=JohnB&pass=123&key=456.28 - the 28 referring to the other 27 copies as I left cron running to see what would happen :-) they all have the same content: ERROR: Invalid key value sent. More info at:wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRMDOC/… Jan 12, 2017 at 19:49
  • CiviCRM.5ea62a755e1d78acd0439277.log (my latest log file) doesn't appear to have those 2 lines anywhere: it's failing and generating a bucket load of error msg's but mostly around shortcodes (and the time stamps don't match the cron trigger) so something else needs looking at. :( Jan 12, 2017 at 19:56
  • ok may have just spotted the deliberate error - just above the if ($key !== $siteKey) { is a line : $siteKey = defined('CIVICRM_SITE_KEY') ? CIVICRM_SITE_KEY : NULL; will try changing NULL to the value in civicrm.setting.php Jan 12, 2017 at 20:13

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