Apache has a graceful option which can scan for modification in http.conf without restarting Apache. What about nginx?

5 Answers 5


nginx supports the following signals :

TERM, INT - Quick shutdown
QUIT - Graceful shutdown
HUP - Configuration reload: Start the new worker processes with a new configuration, Gracefully shutdown the old worker processes
USR1 - Reopen the log files
USR2 - Upgrade Executable on the fly
WINCH - Gracefully shutdown the worker processes

HUP is what you are looking for, so sudo kill -HUP pid (nginx pid)

source : http://nginx.org/en/docs/control.html


Use nginx -s reload

  • 5
    ^This 100%. Worked a charm.
    – user54883
    Sep 26, 2013 at 12:00
  • 1
    This didn't take http basic authentication changes into effect for me. Mar 4, 2016 at 0:29
  • This should be the accepted answer.
    – John Foley
    Nov 29, 2016 at 17:00

Usually nginx's init-script has reload action, i.e:

  • Linux /etc/init.d/nginx reload
  • FreeBSD /usr/local/etc/rc.d/nginx reload

service nginx reload ?

P.S. Doesn't work on Windows.


I wrote about how to restart nginx with zero downtime a while ago. This may be helpful for you.


  • 8
    Your blog thing has no actual information.
    – Geuis
    Jun 20, 2013 at 7:32
  • 2
    USR2 is for upgrading the executable, not for simple config reloading.
    – Brad
    May 22, 2014 at 21:19

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