Core Java

[Java] How to Schedule a task to run in an interval

There is often need in application to run some particular task in background to accomplish some work in an interval. The example can be, service running in background for cleanup of application just like, we have the Java Garbage collection.

In this article, i will show you 3 different ways to achieve this

They are as follows

  • using simple thread
  • using TimerTask
  • using ScheduledExecutorService

using simple thread

This is very simple, which creates the simple thread puts it run in forever with use of while loop and makes use of sleep method to put the interval between running.

This is simply fast and quick way to achieve it

Following is code for this.

public class Task1 {

public static void main(String[] args) {
  // run in a second
  final long timeInterval = 1000;
  Runnable runnable = new Runnable() {
  public void run() {
    while (true) {
      // ------- code for task to run
      System.out.println("Hello !!");
      // ------- ends here
      try {
      } catch (InterruptedException e) {
  Thread thread = new Thread(runnable);

using the Timer and TimerTask

Previous method we saw was very quickest possible, but it lacks some functionality

This has much more benefits than previous they are as follows

  • control over when start and cancel task
  • first execution can be delayed if wanted, provides useful

In this we use, Timer class for scheduling purpose and TimerTask is used for enclosing task to be executed inside its run() method.

Timer instance can be shared to schedule the multiple task and it is thread-safe.

When Timer constructor is called , it creates one thread and this single thread is used any scheduling of task.

For our purpose, we use Timer#scheduleAtFixedRate

Following code shows the use of Timer and TimerTask

import java.util.Timer;
import java.util.TimerTask;

public class Task2 {

  public static void main(String[] args) {
    TimerTask task = new TimerTask() {
      public void run() {
        // task to run goes here
        System.out.println("Hello !!!");
    Timer timer = new Timer();
    long delay = 0;
    long intevalPeriod = 1 * 1000; 
    // schedules the task to be run in an interval 
    timer.scheduleAtFixedRate(task, delay,
  } // end of main

These classes are classes existed from the JDK 1.3.

using ScheduledExecutorService

This is introduced in java.util.concurrent from Java SE 5 as Concurrency utilities. This is preferred way to achieve the goal.

It provides following benefits as compared to previous solutions

  • pool of threads is used to execute as compared TImer`s single thread
  • Provides the flexibility for delaying first execution
  • Provides nice conventions for providing the time intervals

Following code shows use of same,

In this, we use ScheduledExecutorService#scheduleAtFixedRate as shown , it takes param as runnable which particular piece of code we want to run , initialdelay for first execution

import java.util.concurrent.Executors;
import java.util.concurrent.ScheduledExecutorService;
import java.util.concurrent.TimeUnit;

public class Task3 {

  public static void main(String[] args) {
    Runnable runnable = new Runnable() {
      public void run() {
        // task to run goes here
        System.out.println("Hello !!");
    ScheduledExecutorService service = Executors
    service.scheduleAtFixedRate(runnable, 0, 1, TimeUnit.SECONDS);

Abhijeet Sutar

Abhijeet (ajduke) is self-taught, self-organized software developer. His current go to language is Java and also he is exploring other languages such as Scala, Ruby.
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Mohit Sareen
Mohit Sareen
10 years ago

Nice post but it would be more useful if you include the Quartz Api also.

9 years ago

How to run the above code for only particular time period say 30 min. After that it should stop executing?

8 years ago

Thank you for the great example snippets. I spent 2 hours trying to figure out why my TimerTasks were not cancelling and resetting. They do not seem as robust using ScheduledExecutorService!

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