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Execution modes and processes#

There are several different modes in which you can configure n8n to operate when executing workflows. These settings become more important as you increase the number, and complexity, of your automation workflows. Ensuring you set n8n to run in the most beneficial mode is also crucial when you begin to scale n8n to handle large workloads.

Set the n8n mode using the following environment variables:

Variable Options Default Description
EXECUTIONS_PROCESS (deprecated) Enum string: main, own main Deprecated. Whether n8n executions run in their own process or the main process.
EXECUTIONS_MODE Enum string: regular, queue regular Whether executions should run directly or using queue. When you set this to queue, n8n ignores any EXECUTION_PROCESS setting and uses main.

Executions process#

There are two options available when selecting how n8n handles execution processes: own and main.


This is the default mode. When using main mode, all executions will run in the main n8n process. This mode has the following benefits and disadvantages:

Benefits Disadvantages
Minimal latency Can't take advantage of multiple CPUs. Single process can result in a bottleneck.
Resource efficiency: only one CPU required. Reduced stability, one crashed execution causes all others to fail.



n8n deprecated own mode and the EXECUTIONS_PROCESS flag in version 1.0. They will be removed in a future release. Main mode is now the default, so this step isn't needed for version 1.0 and above. Use Queue mode if you need full execution isolation.

In own mode, each execution runs in its own, newly instantiated process (one execution equals one running process). Running in this mode has the following benefits and disadvantages:

Benefits Disadvantages
Stability: one crashed execution doesn't impact others. Latency, approximately 1 second as each process spins up.
Efficiency: Uses all CPUs. Resources (CPU/RAM) needed for the additional processes.

n8n recommends this mode for running CPU intensive tasks to ensure processes don't block each other.

As own also reloads nodes on each execution, it's also the best mode for developing custom nodes.

Executions mode#

There are two options available when setting the executions mode: regular and queue.


This is the default setting for n8n. When running n8n in the regular mode, everything is processed on a single instance. Executions are handled according to the EXECUTIONS_PROCESS setting and available resources.


Queue mode is designed for handling high workloads. In this mode you run multiple instances of n8n: one main instance is required for triggering some workflows and allowing user access through the UI, while the other worker instances process the executions. You can also add dedicated instances to handle incoming webhooks.

Queue mode requires more setup than regular mode, but provides great scalability and stability with minimal latency.

Binary data storage

n8n doesn't support queue mode with binary data storage. If your workflows need to persist binary data, you can't use queue mode.

To learn more see the Scaling n8n documentation.