What does apache (busy workers, idle workers) mean?

Better Stack Team
Updated on November 9, 2023

In the context of an Apache HTTP server, the terms "busy workers" and "idle workers" pertain to the status of worker threads or processes handling incoming web requests.

  • Busy Workers: These are the worker threads or processes that are actively processing incoming requests. Each busy worker represents a connection or request being handled by the server at that moment. When the server is under load, the number of busy workers increases.
  • Idle Workers: Idle workers are the threads or processes that are currently not serving any requests and are available to handle new incoming connections. If the server load is low, there will be more idle workers waiting for new requests.

Understanding the number of busy and idle workers is important for monitoring server performance and diagnosing potential issues:


  1. Server Load: The number of busy workers indicates the current load on the server. If the server is consistently reaching its maximum number of workers, it may struggle to handle additional requests efficiently.
  2. Efficiency: Having a balance between busy and idle workers is crucial. Too many busy workers might lead to increased response times or server overload. On the other hand, too many idle workers may suggest underutilization of server resources.
  3. Performance Analysis: Monitoring busy and idle workers assists in evaluating server performance and optimizing server configurations. Adjusting the server settings, such as the maximum number of allowed workers, can help manage load and response times.

Monitoring and Management:

  • Server Status Page: Apache provides a server status page that shows information about the server's current state, including the number of busy and idle workers. You can access this page to monitor the server's performance and connections.
  • Monitoring Tools: Using server monitoring tools, like mod_status for Apache, or third-party tools, enables continuous monitoring of worker statuses and server performance over time.
  • Server Configuration: Adjust the maximum number of workers (MaxClients or MaxRequestWorkers directive in Apache configuration) based on the server's capacity and expected load to maintain an optimal balance between busy and idle workers.

Balancing the number of busy and idle workers is essential for an efficient and responsive web server. Monitoring these metrics helps administrators manage server resources effectively and ensure that the server can handle incoming requests without being overloaded.

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