How to use the nice command to change process priority in Linux



In the world of Linux, managing process priorities is crucial for optimal system performance. The ‘nice’ command is a built-in utility in Linux that allows you to execute commands with altered priorities. Understanding how to use this tool effectively can significantly enhance your system management skills.

Understanding the ‘nice’ Command

The ‘nice’ command in Linux is used to run a program with modified scheduling priority. This is particularly useful when you want to allocate more or less CPU resources to a specific process.

How to Use the ‘nice’ Command

The basic syntax of the ‘nice’ command is as follows:

nice -n N command

Here, `N` represents the niceness level, ranging from -20 (highest priority) to 19 (lowest priority). By default, if you don’t specify the niceness level, the process is set to priority 10.

Example of ‘nice’ Command in Action

Let’s say you want to start a backup process with a lower priority. You could use:

nice -n 15

This command will start `` with a lower CPU priority, allowing other critical tasks to take precedence.

Tips for Using ‘nice’

  • Use positive values for less critical tasks.
  • System administrators may use negative values for high-priority system processes.
  • Be cautious with setting very high or low priorities, as it might affect system stability.


The ‘nice’ command is a powerful tool in Linux for process priority management. By understanding its usage, you can effectively control how your system allocates resources to different processes.

Have you used the ‘nice’ command in your Linux experience? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below!