Apache monitoring with Anturis

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How it works

There is an Apache module (mod_status) responsible for presenting the current view of Apache key parameters and a snapshot of all its request handlers with their statuses. The following lines in Apache’s configuration file present an example of mod_status switched on:

<Location /server-status>
	SetHandler server-status
	Order deny,allow
	Deny from all
	Allow from

The statistics are provided in the form of a webpage – you can have a look at such a page of the Apache Project itself here: Anturis Apache Monitor is able to read and understand this web page (for example:, and present it on the Anturis Console.

Currently Anturis Apache monitor collects the following metrics:

  • aggregate CPU and memory consumption of all Apache processes
  • number of busy workers
  • number of idle workers
  • average number of requests per second*
  • average number of Kbytes served per second*
  • average number of Kbytes per request*
  • CPU usage by all Apache workers*

*provided ExtendedStatus is switched on in Apache configuration.

Apache monitoring demo

Monitoring web traffic

A good starting point for troubleshooting website problems is to check whether traffic was or is unusual. An unexpected surge in traffic may be caused by many reasons varying from a DOS attack to a marketing campaign that a sys administrator was unaware of. Anturis Apache Monitor (when mod_status and ExtendedStatus is enabled in your Apache server configuration) provides the following information about the overall traffic:

  • number of requests per second
  • number of bytes served per second
  • average number of bytes per request

Comparing these values with historical data may reveal any abnormalities, such as unusually high or low traffic being processed.

Monitoring Apache processes and threads

Latest Apache versions implement hybrid multi-threaded and multi-process models to serve requests. It means that you will see multiple Apache processes running. Each process may contain multiple threads. The number of processes and the number of threads per process, as well as a forking policy and other parameters, are governed by Apache configuration directives. Each request processing thread is called a worker.

Apache self-regulates the number of workers and maintains a pool of idle workers so as to have some ready to process traffic at any time. Anturis Apache Monitor allows you to keep an eye on the number of busy and idle workers.

Watching the number of busy and idle workers is a proactive way to catch Apache configuration problems early enough. Anturis Apache Monitoring tool will let you discover, for example, these problems:

  • insufficient workers for the given traffic
  • too many workers – some processes get swapped out, with a heavy overall performance penalty
  • non-optimal forking policy or MPM model
  • stalling application code (e.g. due to external calls)
  • server resources insufficient for the given traffic

Monitoring Apache processes CPU and RAM consumption

The most important server characteristics in relation to a web server is the amount of RAM. A web server should never swap because swapping out a process will make request processing latency unacceptable. So it is important to understand the maximum number of workers that fit the RAM of your server and to adjust the MaxClients (or MaxRequestWorkers) Apache configuration directive accordingly.

In order to do this you should observe how much RAM is consumed by how many Apache processes under normal conditions. Divide the first by the second, and compare it to your total available physical memory to understand how many Apache processes you can have on this server. The same procedure should be applied to the CPU, as your web application may be CPU-intensive.

Knowing the maximum number of Apache workers per server will in turn give you some insight into the traffic you can serve by the server. You can use this information to anticipate future upgrades of your infrastructure.

Anturis Apache Monitor collects data about Apache processes’ aggregate CPU and memory consumption. It will also alert you if the values exceed the desired limits.

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