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Very strange load average
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Very strange load average

I can't figure why the system's load average is so high. I'm thinking a HDD is dying but I see 1.) no wait. 2.) SMART displays nothing out of the ordinary.

I've given it all night to straight out. No performance problems noticed.

I have restarted all apache, nginx, php5-fpm processes thinking something was hanging, but nope. That would have displayed on top anywho. Thinking the OS is bugged. Haven't restarted the server (this is a dedi).



Any help appreciated.


  • IRQ ? or network calls causing the load ?

  • Typing 'p' while 'top' is running will show what processes utilize CPU the most.

    To analyze I/O usage, you can install and run iotop, make use of iostat utility (from sysstat package). To list opened files/devices, use lsof.

    Note that processes like updatedb, misc. scanners (clamav, rkhunter etc) can cause quite a high load. Until you provide processes list, it's hard to guess.

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  • If you install htop, it's a lot easier to see what is using CPU, etc. AND there's no cryptic key combinations to push to order the output.

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  • It's very strange, I ended up rebooting the server after opening the thread thinking it wasn't going to change. Well, it went back to normal.

    Fixed? Doubt it.

    I had iostat reporting every 2 seconds, tiny spikes in the CPU, but nothing that'll justify 1.x. Monitored the cores as well, thinking a core was going bananas. Nothing. The system was online for 3 days (1 day of that at a strange load average), so if the CPU was really at 1.x, wouldn't iostat average show more than a 0.06 (user) or 0.48 (system)? It should. Much different than say a system online for 100+ days.

    I use the same config on other servers, it's very cut down, Apache with nginx (9 gzip), php5-fpm and CSF that is all. No DB, no email, no claimav, etc.

    Will install htop and iotop if it happens again. Appreciate the help.

  • So following reboot, the information is lost, but I suspect that there was some process waiting on resources; though the process is not consuming anything, it is marked as runnable as soon as resources become available and so adds to the load average. Found something [](How to find out which process is waiting on resources) on stackoverflow that may be relevant to you later.

  • I had a similar thing on a node, cpu idle 90% and load 40+ on an E3. Checking the usual suspects, like processes waiting or locked, didnt give anything up, the server was super-responsive, no customer complaints, i left it like that and fixed itself in a day or so without reboot. To this day I have no idea what went wrong.

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