Using WordPress 5.4 and CiviCRM Version 5.18.4. Hosting with InmotionDirect, managing via Cpanel.

Trying to follow the instructions to set up our cron job. I got the command line to work, finally, as: php public_html/wp-content/plugins/civicrm/civicrm/bin/cli.php -s [site] -u [user] -p [password] -e Job -a execute

It worked, and I thought I was done. Plugged it into the Crom job list in Cpanel and sat back.

Error via email: "cli.php can only be run from command line."

Well, nobody mentioned that in the instructions. Is that a universal rule, or is just my hosting service being fussy?

Based on an answer here (Setting up cron jobs on cPanel) I tried putting the command line in a file and having the cron job command be just sh thatfile. Same error.

Is there a workaround? Or do I have to manually install yet another program like wp-cli just to run my jobs?

2 Answers 2


Well, I seem to have resolved it by replacing cli.php with cron.php in the command line. Of course it didn't do anything when I ran the command from the terminal, but I plugged it into the cron jobs list and it seems to be executing the jobs now. I am just lucky I spotted the "cron.php" file in the bin folder, and took a chance on it being what I needed.

My sympathies to any novice like me who has to set up Cron Jobs for CiviCRM -- the instructions may make sense to a Linux expert or php programmer, but to complete this simple and essential task, it has taken me months.

Thanks for your help, folks!

  • Ok if it's working great just now it sounds like you're simulating a web request from the command line, by running the fcgi binary against a script meant to be called from the web. See how it goes!
    – Demerit
    May 1, 2020 at 19:10

I think this is maybe the same as https://stackoverflow.com/questions/10886539/why-does-php-sapi-not-equal-cli-when-called-from-a-cron-job

The key line is Do not always expect /usr/bin/php to be a link to php-cli binary.

Meaning: In your cron command give the full path to the exact version of the php binary that you want, which might be something like /usr/bin/php-cli. I'm not familiar with InmotionDirect, but they probably have php linked to cgi-fcgi, so you need to find the right full path to the cli version of php. I'm sure InmotionDirect can tell you. Possibly this: https://www.inmotionhosting.com/support/questions/communities/1/topics/10968-using-cli-version-of-php-with-cron

  • Well, as I said, my command is: php public_html/wp-content/plugins/civicrm/civicrm/bin/cli.php -s [site]-u [user] -p [password] -e Job -a execute I have verified that, at least when run from the terminal, this works, so I guess this is the right path to the cli.php. But maybe "cli.php" is not what I should be running at all (since the cli means command line interface). If I am searching in my files on the server for an equivalent binary that will run from a cron job, would it be called cron.php? Would it take the same parameters, etc? Apr 29, 2020 at 21:39
  • 1
    When run from the terminal your PATH or a wrapper might be different than from cpanel cron. Based on the article on the hosting company's site I would change php to php-cli in your cron command, the php at the start of the line.
    – Demerit
    Apr 29, 2020 at 21:42

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