I have a shell script that executes drush sql-dump, compresses the result and then sends it to a backup server.

It works fine when run from the command line as root but it is failing silently and dispatching an empty file when run as part of a scheduled cron job.

This script has worked previously for me on another website as a cronjob and so I am somewhat confused what would be wrong now.

I work with Drupal 8.3.1 and Drush Version 8.1.11.

Any suggestions?

  • Add -v for verbose messages. Probably you're out of memory or you need to increase PHP time execution for drush.
    – kenorb
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 16:13
  • Why would the resource requirements be different for cron compared to doing it manually?
    – tanbog
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 1:42

1 Answer 1


After much frustration I have resolved the issue and will post the answer in case it is of use.

Cron seems to not always have access to the same PATH information as when a normal user - or even root - runs a drush command in a command line.

The solution came from comment #7 in this drush thread.

You need the path to drush. You can find this with the command:

which drush

In my case it was /usr/local/bin/drush

Then add the path info to the top of the shell script.

export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/bin

And then it worked perfectly.

Additionally, it appears if your local mail is not set up correctly cron discards output from scripts which is why the drush: command not found error was not turning up in logs. To make sure you get logs from cron configure it for local mail. See this post.

  • This finally fixed things for me, even though I had already thought to spell out /usr/local/bin/drush and /usr/bin/gzip in full in my bash script. (slightly odd setup, backing up on a Mac Mini being used as a production server…) Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 9:19

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