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Apache processes dramatically increasing

Suddenly increasing apache processes briefly

7:14 pm on Jun 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Every now and then I get massive spikes of apache processes reaching up to 200. Generally they sit at around the 15-30 mark but I have a flag that warns me it they go over 50.

I have gone through the log files but don't really notice anything out of the ordinary.

Does anyone know what could be causing this and if I am under attack at all?

Is there a way to break down each process even more so i can see what each one has been created by?

Thanks in advance,

9:09 pm on June 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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When you say "log files" do mean access logs, error logs or both? Are any true errors (500-level) being generated?

You could set your error logs to debug level-- but this gets recursive, since the extra logging itself would create more activity :(

Could it be something embarrassingly obvious like an unintended chain of rewrites (what Apache calls "internal redirect")-- not enough to trigger a shutdown, but enough that an ordinary request generates 5 times as much activity as it ought to? This won't show up in regular logs.

I assume you've eliminated the predictable explanations, like any changes you might have made right before the spikes started. Including, of course, the changes you didn't bother to consider because they can't possibly have any connection with the current problem ;)
1:43 pm on June 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Using netstat from your command line can give you more details about the connections:
netstat -an | grep :80
to check the active connections on port 80.