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I've seen plenty on how reload gracefully allows HTTP sessions to finish (as opposed to restart). So what's the difference between

service apache2 reload


service apache2 force-reload

Thanks :)

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

reload and force-reload are really just an alias for the same commands.

        graceful | reload | force-reload)
            if ! $APACHE2CTL configtest > /dev/null 2>&1; then
                $APACHE2CTL configtest || true
                log_end_msg 1
                exit 1
            log_daemon_msg "Reloading web server config" "apache2"
            if pidof_apache > /dev/null ; then
                if $APACHE2CTL graceful $2 ; then
                    log_end_msg 0
                    log_end_msg 1
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It sounds like you're on a Debian or Ubuntu system. Take a look at the Apache init script in /etc/init.d/apache2; this script implements all the actions associated with the service command. Look to see the difference between reload and force-reload. If you have problems understanding the script, just ask us here.

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Thanks :) Would appear that reload, force-reload and graceful all do the same thing (synonyms for the same case-statement block). – Samuel Jaeschke Feb 24 '12 at 14:15

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