Sleeping in a batch file

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When writing a batch file to automate something on a Windows box, I’ve needed to pause its execution for several seconds (usually in a test/wait loop, waiting for a process to start). At the time, the best solution I could find uses ping (I kid you not) to achieve the desired effect. I’ve found a better write-up of it here, which describes a callable “wait.bat”, implemented as follows:

@ping -n 2 -w 1000 > nul
@ping -n %1% -w 1000> nul

You can then include calls to wait.bat in your own batch file, passing in the number of seconds to sleep.

Apparently the Windows 2003 Resource Kit provides a Unix-like sleep command (at last!). In the meantime, for those of us still using Windows XP, Windows 2000 or (sadly) Windows NT, is there a better way?

I modified the script in the accepted answer, so that it defaults to one second if no arguments are passed on the command line:

import time, sys

time.sleep(float(sys.argv[1]) if len(sys.argv) > 1 else 1)

The timeout command is available from Windows Vista onwards:

c:\> timeout /?

TIMEOUT [/T] timeout [/NOBREAK]

    This utility accepts a timeout parameter to wait for the specified
    time period (in seconds) or until any key is pressed. It also
    accepts a parameter to ignore the key press.

Parameter List:
    /T        timeout       Specifies the number of seconds to wait.
                            Valid range is -1 to 99999 seconds.

    /NOBREAK                Ignore key presses and wait specified time.

    /?                      Displays this help message.

NOTE: A timeout value of -1 means to wait indefinitely for a key press.

    TIMEOUT /?
    TIMEOUT /T 10
    TIMEOUT /T -1

Note: It does not work with input redirection – trivial example:

C:\>echo 1 | timeout /t 1 /nobreak
ERROR: Input redirection is not supported, exiting the process immediately.

Using the ping method as outlined is how I do it when I can’t (or don’t want to) add more executables or install any other software.

You should be pinging something that isn’t there, and using the -w flag so that it fails after that amount of time, not pinging something that is there (like localhost) -n times. This allows you to handle time less than a second, and I think it’s slightly more accurate.


(test that isn’t taken)

ECHO Waiting 15 seconds

PING -n 1 -w 15000 > NUL
PING -n 15 -w 1000 127.1 >NUL


The timeout command, available from Windows Vista and onwards should be the command used, as described in another answer to this question. What follows here is an old answer.

Old answer

If you have Python installed, or don’t mind installing it (it has other uses too :), just create the following script and add it somewhere in your PATH:

import time, sys


It will allow sub-second pauses (for example, 1.5 sec, 0.1, etc.), should you have such a need. If you want to call it as sleep rather than, then you can add the .PY extension to your PATHEXT environment variable. On Windows XP, you can edit it in:

My Computer ? Properties (menu) ? Advanced (tab) ? Environment Variables (button) ? System variables (frame)

SLEEP.exe is included in most Resource Kits e.g. The Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit which can be installed on Windows XP too.

Usage:  sleep      time-to-sleep-in-seconds
        sleep [-m] time-to-sleep-in-milliseconds
        sleep [-c] commited-memory ratio (1%-100%)

I disagree with the answers I found here.

I use the following method entirely based on Windows XP capabilities to do a delay in a batch file:


REM DELAY seconds

FOR /F "TOKENS=1-3 DELIMS=:." %%A IN ("%TIME%") DO SET /A H=%%A, M=1%%B%%100, S=1%%C%%100, ENDING=(H*60+M)*60+S+%1

FOR /F "TOKENS=1-3 DELIMS=:." %%A IN ("%TIME%") DO SET /A H=%%A, M=1%%B%%100, S=1%%C%%100, CURRENT=(H*60+M)*60+S

You may also insert the day in the calculation so the method also works when the delay interval pass over midnight.

I faced a similar problem, but I just knocked up a very short C++ console application to do the same thing. Just run MySleep.exe 1000 – perhaps easier than downloading/installing the whole resource kit.

#include <tchar.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include "Windows.h"

int _tmain(int argc, _TCHAR* argv[])
    if (argc == 2)
        _tprintf(_T("Sleeping for %s ms\n"), argv[1]);
        _tprintf(_T("Wrong number of arguments.\n"));
    return 0;

Over at Server Fault, a similar question was asked, and the solution there was:

choice /d y /t 5 > nul

You can use ping:

ping -n 11 -w 1000 >nul: 2>nul:

It will wait 10 seconds.

The reason you have to use 11 is because the first ping goes out immediately, not after one second. The number should always be one more than the number of seconds you want to wait.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the -w is not to control how often packets are sent, it’s to ensure that you wait no more than some time in the event that there are network problems. There are unlikely to be problems if you’re pinging so this is probably moot.

The ping command on its own will normally send one packet per second. This is not actually documented in the Windows docs but it appears to follow the same rules as the Linux version (where it is documented).

You could use the Windows cscript WSH layer and this wait.js JavaScript file:

if (WScript.Arguments.Count() == 1)
    WScript.Echo("Usage: cscript wait.js seconds");

Depending on your compatibility needs, either use ping:

ping -n <numberofseconds+1> localhost >nul 2>&1

e.g. to wait 5 seconds, use

ping -n 6 localhost >nul 2>&1

or on Windows 7 or later use timeout:

timeout 6 >nul

There is a better way to sleep using ping. 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. To be clear, this applies even in local networks. – This block is assigned as “TEST-NET” for use in
documentation and example code. It is often used in conjunction with
domain names or in vendor and protocol
documentation. Addresses within this block should not appear on the
public Internet.

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

Update: As per the comments, there is also

If you’ve got PowerShell on your system, you can just execute this command:

powershell -command "Start-Sleep -s 1"

Edit: from my answer on a similar thread, people raised an issue where the amount of time powershell takes to start is significant compared to how long you’re trying to wait for. If the accuracy of the wait time is important (ie a second or two extra delay is not acceptable), you can use this approach:

powershell -command "$sleepUntil = [DateTime]::Parse('%date% %time%').AddSeconds(5); $sleepDuration = $sleepUntil.Subtract((get-date)).TotalMilliseconds; start-sleep -m $sleepDuration"

This takes the time when the windows command was issued, and the powershell script sleeps until 5 seconds after that time. So as long as powershell takes less time to start than your sleep duration, this approach will work (it’s around 600ms on my machine).

timeout /t <seconds> <options>

For example, to make the script perform a non-uninterruptible 2-second wait:

timeout /t 2 /nobreak >NUL

Which means the script will wait 2 seconds before continuing.

By default, a keystroke will interrupt the timeout, so use the /nobreak switch if you don’t want the user to be able to interrupt (cancel) the wait. Furthermore, the timeout will provide per-second notifications to notify the user how long is left to wait; this can be removed by piping the command to NUL.

edit: As @martineau points out in the comments, the timeout command is only available on Windows 7 and above. Furthermore, the ping command uses less processor time than timeout. I still believe in using timeout where possible, though, as it is more readable than the ping ‘hack’. Read more here.

Just put this in your batch file where you want the wait.

@ping -n 11 -w 1000 > null

In Notepad, write:

@echo off
set /a WAITTIME=%1+1
PING -n %WAITTIME% > nul

Now save as wait.bat in the folder C:\WINDOWS\System32,
then whenever you want to wait, use:

CALL WAIT.bat <whole number of seconds without quotes>

The Resource Kit has always included this. At least since Windows 2000.

Also, the Cygwin package has a sleep – plop that into your PATH and include the cygwin.dll (or whatever it’s called) and way to go!

The usage of ping is good, as long as you just want to “wait for a bit”. This since you are dependent on other functions underneath, like your network working and the fact that there is nothing answering on 😉 Maybe it is not very likely it fails, but it is not impossible…

If you want to be sure that you are waiting exactly the specified time, you should use the sleep functionality (which also have the advantage that it doesn’t use CPU power or wait for a network to become ready).

To find an already made executable for sleep is the most convenient way. Just drop it into your Windows folder or any other part of your standard path and it is always available.

Otherwise, if you have a compiling environment you can easily make one yourself.
The Sleep function is available in kernel32.dll, so you just need to use that one. 🙂
For VB / VBA declare the following in the beginning of your source to declare a sleep function:

private Declare Sub Sleep Lib "kernel32" Alias "Sleep" (byval dwMilliseconds as Long)

For C#:

static extern void Sleep(uint dwMilliseconds);

You’ll find here more about this functionality (available since Windows 2000) in Sleep function (MSDN).

In standard C, sleep() is included in the standard library and in Microsoft’s Visual Studio C the function is named Sleep(), if memory serves me. 😉 Those two takes the argument in seconds, not in milliseconds as the two previous declarations.

I like Aacini’s response. I added to it to handle the day and also enable it to handle centiseconds (%TIME% outputs H:MM:SS.CC):


::Get ending centisecond (10 milliseconds)
FOR /F "tokens=1-4 delims=:." %%A IN ("%TIME%") DO SET /A H=%%A, M=1%%B%%100, S=1%%C%%100, X=1%%D%%100, ENDING=((H*60+M)*60+S)*100+X+DELAYINPUT

::Wait for such a centisecond
FOR /F "tokens=1-4 delims=:." %%A IN ("%TIME%") DO SET /A H=%%A, M=1%%B%%100, S=1%%C%%100, X=1%%D%%100, CURRENT=((H*60+M)*60+S)*100+X
IF %DAYS% GTR 0 GOTO delay_wait

I have been using this C# sleep program. It might be more convenient for you if C# is your preferred language:

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Threading;

namespace sleep
    class Program
        static void Main(string[] args)
            if (args.Length == 1)
                double time = Double.Parse(args[0]);
                Console.WriteLine("Usage: sleep <seconds>\nExample: sleep 10");

Even more lightweight than the Python solution is a Perl

To sleep for seven seconds put this in the BAT script:

perl -e "sleep 7"

This solution only provides a resolution of one second.

If you need higher resolution then use the Time::HiRes
module from CPAN. It provides usleep() which sleeps in
microseconds and nanosleep() which sleeps in nanoseconds
(both functions takes only integer arguments). See the
Stack Overflow question How do I sleep for a millisecond in Perl? for further details.

I have used ActivePerl for many years. It is very easy to

Or command line Python, for example, for 6 and a half seconds:

python -c "import time;time.sleep(6.5)"

The best solution that should work on all Windows versions after Windows 2000 would be:

timeout numbersofseconds /nobreak > nul

There are lots of ways to accomplish a ‘sleep‘ in cmd/batch:

My favourite one:


This will stop the console for 5 seconds, without any output.

Most used:

ping localhost -n 5 >NUL 2>NUL

This will try to make a connection to localhost 5 times. Since it is hosted on your computer, it will always reach the host, so every second it will try the new every second. The -n flag indicates how many times the script will try the connection. In this case is 5, so it will last 5 seconds.

Variants of the last one:

ping -n 5 >nul

In this script there are some differences comparing it with the last one. This will not try to call localhost. Instead, it will try to connect to, a very fast website. The action will last 5 seconds only if you have an active internet connection. Else it will last approximately 15 to complete the action. I do not recommend using this method.

ping -n 5 >nul

This is exactly the same as example 2 (most used). Also, you can also use:

ping [::1] -n 5 >nul

This instead, uses IPv6’s localhost version.

There are lots of methods to perform this action. However, I prefer method 1 for Windows Vista and later versions and the most used method (method 2) for earlier versions of the OS.

The pathping.exe can sleep less than second.

@echo off
setlocal EnableDelayedExpansion 
echo !TIME! & pathping localhost -n -q 1 -p %~1 2>&1 > nul & echo !TIME!


> sleep 10

> sleep 20

> sleep 50

> sleep 100

> sleep 200

> sleep 500

> sleep 800

> sleep 1000

> sleep 1500

I am impressed with this one:

choice /n /c y /d y /t 5 > NUL

Technically, you’re telling the choice command to accept only y. It defaults to y, to do so in 5 seconds, to draw no prompt, and to dump anything it does say to NUL (like null terminal on Linux).

You can also use a .vbs file to do specific timeouts:

The code below creates the .vbs file. Put this near the top of you rbatch code:

echo WScript.sleep WScript.Arguments(0) >"%cd%\sleeper.vbs"

The code below then opens the .vbs and specifies how long to wait for:

start /WAIT "" "%cd%\sleeper.vbs" "1000"

In the above code, the “1000” is the value of time delay to be sent to the .vbs file in milliseconds, for example, 1000 ms = 1 s. You can alter this part to be however long you want.

The code below deletes the .vbs file after you are done with it. Put this at the end of your batch file:

del /f /q "%cd%\sleeper.vbs"

And here is the code all together so it’s easy to copy:

echo WScript.sleep WScript.Arguments(0) >"%cd%\sleeper.vbs"
start /WAIT "" "%cd%\sleeper.vbs" "1000"
del /f /q "%cd%\sleeper.vbs"

Just for fun, if you have Node.js installed, you can use

node -e 'setTimeout(a => a, 5000)'

to sleep for 5 seconds. It works on a Mac with Node v12.14.0.

You can get fancy by putting the PAUSE message in the title bar:

@ECHO off
CALL :sleep 5
:: Function Section
:sleep ARG
ECHO Pausing...
FOR /l %%a in (%~1,-1,1) DO (TITLE Script %TITLETEXT% -- time left^
 %%as&PING.exe -n 2 -w 1000 127.1>NUL)
:: End of script
::this is EOF

This was tested on Windows XP SP3 and Windows 7 and uses CScript. I put in some safe guards to avoid del “” prompting. (/q would be dangerous)

Wait one second:

sleepOrDelayExecution 1000

Wait 500 ms and then run stuff after:

sleepOrDelayExecution 500 dir \ /s


@echo off
if "%1" == "" goto end
if NOT %1 GTR 0 goto end
set sleepfn="%temp%\sleep%random%.vbs"
echo WScript.Sleep(%1) >%sleepfn%
if NOT %sleepfn% == "" if NOT EXIST %sleepfn% goto end
cscript %sleepfn% >nul
if NOT %sleepfn% == "" if EXIST %sleepfn% del %sleepfn%
for /f "usebackq tokens=1*" %%i in (`echo %*`) DO @ set params=%%j

Since others are suggesting 3rd party programs (Python, Perl, custom app, etc), another option is GNU CoreUtils for Windows available at

2 options for deployment:

  1. Install full package (which will include the full suite of CoreUtils, dependencies, documentation, etc).
  2. Install only the ‘sleep.exe’ binary and necessary dependencies (use depends.exe to get dependencies).

One benefit of deploying CoreUtils is that you’ll additionally get a host of other programs that are helpful for scripting (Windows batch leaves a lot to be desired).

The answers/resolutions are collected from stackoverflow, are licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0 .

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