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Last night I recieved a lot of messages from DirectAdmin saying: load average on your system is 46.86, or some similar number. It comes with a 'top' printout, but all I can tell from that printout is that the CPU is 99.7% idle, and that used memory seems high. But after reading a bit I understand this is normal and as long as Swap memory is low (80M of 2G is low right?) there is no problem.

So my question is: where does the high load come from? And should I be worried and/or take any action?

This is on a CentOS VPS with 512MB RAM, and 1 core. It currently hosts only 2 websites with very low traffic.

free command from this morning (half a day later):

free
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:        503396     444488      58908          0      53688     165556
-/+ buffers/cache:     225244     278152
Swap:      2097144      81840    2015304

first message from directAdmin including top printout:

This is an automated message notifying you that the 5 minute load average on your system is 46.86.
This has exceeded the 10 threshold.

One Minute      - 51.18
Five Minutes    - 46.86
Fifteen Minutes - 30.63

top - 00:16:43 up 92 days, 12:58,  1 user,  load average: 51.18, 46.86, 30.63
Tasks: 196 total,   3 running, 193 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
Cpu(s):  0.1%us,  0.1%sy,  0.0%ni, 99.7%id,  0.2%wa,  0.0%hi,  0.0%si,  0.0%st
Mem:    503396k total,   458164k used,    45232k free,    36656k buffers
Swap:  2097144k total,    82432k used,  2014712k free,   141668k cached

 PID USER      PR  NI  VIRT  RES  SHR S %CPU %MEM    TIME+  COMMAND                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
12008 root      20   0 15068 1156  760 R  2.2  0.2   0:00.04 /usr/bin/top -c -b -n 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
12012 root      20   0 15068 1144  760 R  2.2  0.2   0:00.03 /usr/bin/top -c -b -n 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
12014 root      20   0 15076 1252  844 R  2.2  0.2   0:00.03 /usr/bin/top -c -b -n 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
11828 diradmin  20   0 53952 2644 2060 S  1.1  0.5   0:00.08     /usr/local/directadmin/dataskq                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
11881 diradmin  20   0 53952 2644 2060 S  1.1  0.5   0:00.04     /usr/local/directadmin/dataskq                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
   1 root      20   0 19244 1136  916 S  0.0  0.2   0:00.91 /sbin/init                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
   2 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [kthreadd]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
   3 root      RT   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [migration/0]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
   4 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.58 [ksoftirqd/0]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
   5 root      RT   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [watchdog/0]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
   6 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:01.91 [events/0]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
   7 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [cpuset]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
   8 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [khelper]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
   9 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [netns]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  10 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [async/mgr]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  11 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [pm]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  12 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.01 [sync_supers]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  13 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.01 [bdi-default]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  14 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [kintegrityd/0]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  15 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:01.03 [kblockd/0]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  16 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [kacpid]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
  17 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [kacpi_notify]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  18 root      20   0     0    0    0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 [kacpi_hotplug] 
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1  
The output from top does not say anything about the problem. Your best shot is to install a trending tool like munin and visualize system metrics over time. Another thing you should do is check the system logs, e.g. /var/log/syslog. –  pkhamre Feb 11 '13 at 9:29
    
You say it's a VPS, let me guess: OpenVZ? Other OpenVZ containers can get you a high load. –  Devator Feb 11 '13 at 10:06
    
Monit is also helpful as you can see the load from monitored applications, which may give you an indicator of who the culprit is. –  dunxd Feb 12 '13 at 11:13

2 Answers 2

up vote 0 down vote accepted

CPU usage is not the only contribution to system load, another is processes in uninterruptible sleep ('D'). Try something like ps -axu |grep D (this may produce false positives since the letter D may occur elsewhere, not just in the STAT column). This should at least give you a hint if there are any 'D' processes accumulating. In general, these are waiting for some resource (e.g. a file on a disk) that is not responding immediately. Sometimes, these processes can hang for a long time (such as when waiting for an NFS mount for which the server has become unreachable).

Edit: You could also try something like ps axu | grep -E " D[<NLsl+]* " to avoid some of the false positives of ps -axu |grep D.

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I've always assumed DirectAdmin (and that ilk) are a bad lot.

The first hit for "dataskq" on google is this

So it looks like DirectAdmin is causing your high load.

I'd remove it if I were you, and become a real sysadmin.

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