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How to pause execution for a while in a Windows batch file between a command and the next one?

  • Is this intended to become a canonical? If so then some explanatory text might be appropriate. – John Gardeniers Sep 26 '12 at 23:06
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    "Explanatory text" as in? – Massimo Sep 27 '12 at 7:00
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    Most, if not all, canonical questions I've seen include text describing the intent of that question. – John Gardeniers Sep 27 '12 at 8:52
  • Or some text explaining the situation... It's mostly to help with SEO, but also helps to frame potential Answers. – Chris S Sep 28 '12 at 1:12
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    SEO working just fine. First hit for me on Google search. – jbo5112 Oct 1 '15 at 22:44
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The correct way to sleep in a batch file is to use the timeout command, introduced in Windows 2000.

To wait somewhere between 29 and 30 seconds:

timeout /t 30

The timeout would get interrupted if the user hits any key; however, the command also accepts the optional switch /nobreak, which effectively ignores anything the user may press, except an explicit CTRL-C:

timeout /t 30 /nobreak

Additionally, if you don't want the command to print its countdown on the screen, you can redirect its output to NUL:

timeout /t 30 /nobreak > NUL
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    The timeout command does not work with Windows XP even with the 2003 Resource kit installed and the sleep command does not work in Windows 7 so the ping command can still be of good use if you are using the batch file on both Win7 and WinXP. – user178627 Jun 20 '13 at 22:55
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    timeout does not work in non-interactive scripts: "ERROR: Input redirection is not supported, exiting the process immediately." so sometimes using hack with "ping" is preferred. – iMysak Oct 26 '15 at 11:08
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Since it applies here, too, I'll copy my answer from another site.

If you want to use ping, there is a better way. You'll want to ping an address that does not exist, so you can specify a timeout with millisecond precision. Luckily, such an address is defined in a standard (RFC 3330), and it is 192.0.2.x. This is not made-up, it really is an address with the sole purpose of not-existing (it may not be clear, but it applies even in local networks):

192.0.2.0/24 - This block is assigned as "TEST-NET" for use in documentation and example code. It is often used in conjunction with domain names example.com or example.net in vendor and protocol documentation. Addresses within this block should not appear on the public Internet.

To sleep for 123 milliseconds, use ping 192.0.2.1 -n 1 -w 123 >nul

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    Please don't do that, even if it's slightly better than pinging a real address. Ping is simply the wrong tool for the job. – Massimo Jul 17 '14 at 12:39
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    @Massimo It's most likely not what it was intended to do :) But I think it's a good solution still - it does work better than timeout in some scenarios (in particular higher resolution). Also, it's become quite well known, so most people would not be very surprised (i.e. confused) when they see it in your batch file. – mafu Jul 18 '14 at 8:15
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    @Massimo Alright! I guess we just have different views. If you don't mind I'll still leave this answer up since it seems to be better than pinging localhost n times as is most often described. – mafu Jul 18 '14 at 11:25
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    timeout is the right solution for the operating systems it works on. ping is the only solution that works from 5.1-6.3. With 25% of systems still on 5.1, timeout is not "the correct way". – Wyrmwood Jul 23 '14 at 1:42
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    timeout is the wrong solution for any operating system, because it is fatally broken even in Windows 10. What use is a command that fails just because input is redirected? – Harry Johnston Apr 28 at 0:22
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You can also insert a ping to localhost. This will take 4 seconds to complete (by default). It is considered a kludge by some, but works quite well all the same.

The command:
ping 127.0.0.1

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    Ehm... the whole purpose of this Q/A was exactly to correct two other questions which have this as their accepted answer, but can no longer be corrected because their OP is no longer around. – Massimo Sep 26 '12 at 20:13
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    While it will work it's the equivalent of driving a screw with a hammer. A wrong tool may work, but it's still wrong. – voretaq7 Sep 26 '12 at 20:16
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    @MarkAllen In other words, Windows NT4, 95, 98, ME and older? – Chris McKeown Sep 26 '12 at 23:44
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    @MarkAllen - technically you then have to worry about whether or not ping comes with your OS. If you're worried enough about '95 '98 or ME then you should be as equally worried about 6.22 which doesn't have ping either – Mark Henderson Sep 27 '12 at 20:36
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    @MarkHenderson It's easier (for me) to remember whether or not a particular release of the OS supports TCP/IP than to remember whether or not it includes a command I hadn't heard previously. You know? – Mark Allen Sep 28 '12 at 0:01
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Disclaimer: this is not the "ideal" solution, so don't bother beating me over the head with that like done to those recommending ping...

When possible, use timeout for sure. But as noted in the comments, that's not always an option (e.g. in non-interactive mode). After that, I agree that the ping "kludge" is perhaps the next best option, as it is very simple. That said, I offer another option... embed some VB Script.

The basis of this solution has all sorts of application beyond this. Often VBS can do things that batch cannot, or at the very least do so with drastically more ease. Using the technique illustrated here, you can mix the two (not "seamlessly", but "functionally"...).

Here's a one liner, to create a temp script, execute it, then delete it. The script does the sleeping for you (for 3 seconds in this example).

echo WScript.Sleep 3000 > %temp%\sleep.vbs & cscript %temp%\sleep.vbs %sleepMs% //B & del %temp%\sleep.vbs

Here's basically the same thing, written a bit differently:

set sleepMs=3000 & set sleepVbs=%temp%\sleep.vbs & echo WScript.Sleep WScript.Arguments(0) > %sleepVbs% & cscript %sleepVbs% %sleepMs% //B & del %sleepVbs%

And then finally, like ping, CScript itself has a timeout option! So, if you enter an infinite loop in the script, you can let the interpreter enforce the duration. Note, this is a "busy" operation, which eats the CPU, and therefore I don't recommend it when you can use the WScript.Sleep procedure, but I present it as a conceptual option for the sake of completeness:

set sleepSec=3 & set sleepVbs=%temp%\sleep.vbs & echo While True > %sleepVbs% & echo Wend >> %sleepVbs% & cscript %sleepVbs% //B //T:%sleepSec% & del %sleepVbs%
  • You know ... you could do this in powershell, I expect, without having to write a file. – Harry Johnston Apr 28 at 0:20
  • Yeah, that is likely another good solution, though this one I believe is more backwards compatible with old versions of Windows. – BuvinJ Apr 28 at 1:03

protected by Michael Hampton Dec 2 '15 at 22:31

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