How high is the CPU load and RAM usage of your site? How much memory is really still free? Which cron jobs are currently running and what do your logfiles actually look like? The answers to these and other questions provide important information about the state of your website. We show what these values mean and introduce our website monitoring feature - BOX Status.
The right monitoring is essential - it doesn't matter if you're a freelancer or agency looking after websites for clients or "only" responsible for your own website. Having an overview of the most important information about your website allows you to react faster if a problem should occur on your site.
Many RAIDBOXES customers requested a website monitoring feature so here it is! Let us present: the BOX Status. This monitoring feature is included in all our hosting plans. In this article we'll explain how to work with the BOX Status and what the displayed values mean.
The BOX Status at a glance
The status area gives you a lot of information about your website, its behavior, and the server. You can access the BOX Status with a few clicks via the RAIDBOXES Dashboard - either via the list view of your BOXES or via the BOX overview of an individual BOX.
You can see the following values and information about the state of your website in the BOX Status. We'll go into some of them in more detail in a moment:
- CPU load: This value shows whether your site is currently overloaded. You can then use your BOX logs to determine exactly what is causing the overload.
- RAM usage: The RAM usage shows you the current memory usage of your vServer. This value is also an important indicator for checking whether your site is overloaded.
- SSD assignment: Here you can see how much storage space your BOX currently uses or is still free. For more details about memory usage, we recommend our plugin Disk Usage Sunburst.
- Cronjobs: The BOX Status also gives you an overview of the cron jobs running on your site. If a cron job hangs, you can delete it directly via the BOX Status.
- BOX history: The change log in your website status shows you all server-side changes that have been made on your BOX thus far.
- Log files: You have access to all your site's logs via the BOX Status; the error log, the debug log, and the access log. These are important for debugging errors or problems on your site.
- WordPress version: Our website status shows you on which WordPress version your BOX is running on. You can also turn on the WordPress version freeze, to prevent automatic WP updates.
How do I read the graphs in the BOX Status?
CPU and RAM usage are the two most important values in the status overview of your BOX. The graphs show you if your site is overloaded and help you analyze errors and problems.
You can filter and customize both the CPU and RAM usage graphs in the BOX Status according to your needs. They work in exactly the same way:
- The graphs show the measured values over the last 24 hours
- The data points are one minute apart and are average values
- You can view a desired period in more detail by drawing a frame around that period within the graph. The view will then be enlarged accordingly.
- For clarity, the time at 00:00 is marked by a fine grey line (vertical) on the time axis.
- In addition, there are two colored (orange and red) horizontal markings. These are exclusively reading aids. These lines do not indicate that your site is overloaded.
- If you click on the arrow symbol in the upper right corner and then click on the graph, you can hold down the left mouse button and drag the view to the left or right.
What is CPU load?
The number of vCores your BOX has always depends on your hosting plan. A STARTER BOX for example, has one vCore, while a BOX on the PRO XL plan has four.
The y-axis (the vertical axis) shows the CPU load in percent. The x-axis (the horizontal axis) represents the time elapsed. The orange line marks the 100% utilization mark at a given time, the red line the 200% utilization mark.
Only pay attention to the blue graph!
The red and orange lines are simply reading aids. They do not mean that your BOX was overloaded at any point. The blue graph shows the real CPU load values.
How do I interpret the CPU value correctly?
The CPU value describes the load on your BOX's virtual processor cores as a percentage. A high value means that a BOX has many processes to run, a low value means that little calculation is required. The value results from all processes that need to be calculated by the CPU.
Too much CPU load can stop your site working properly. The most common error that occurs in this context is a 504 timeout.
The CPU usage of your BOX can exceed the one hundred percent hurdle significantly. This is not necessarily a sign that an error is occurring on your BOX but it does indicate that an event on your BOX has resulted in an extremely high CPU load.
If you want to see the exact value at a certain point in time, simply move the cursor over the graph at the desired time. As soon as you're inside the graph with the cursor, lines appear parallel to both axes showing you the exact axis values (time and CPU usage) of the respective point.
My CPU load is high - why and what can I do about it?
There are several reasons why the CPU graph could show a high workload. In general, it doesn't indicate your site is unavailable or that it's not working properly. It simply means your CPU is working very hard at certain times. Reasons for this can be, for example, a high number of visitors to your site or cron jobs.
What is an overload?
Isolated load peaks do not mean your CPU is overloaded. You can only speak of overload if the CPU load is well over 100 percent over a long period of time.
If the CPU load is above the range of high or very high load for a longer period of time, this is called a high CPU load. Even a high CPU load isn't necessarily a cause for concern. It simply indicates that a lot of computing needs to be done on your site. In periods of high traffic, a high load is even to be expected.
My site is overloaded, what can I do?
If your site is overloaded, i.e. shows a CPU load of well over 100 percent over a long period of time, then errors and failures may occur on your site.
It's important to understand the following in this context: an overloaded site isn't the problem in itself. It's only ever a symptom of the real problem, e.g. of too much traffic.
So if your site is overloaded, you need to start looking for the real problem straight away. Typical issues include:
- high traffic (can be analyzed via the access log)
- a lot of traffic from undesired bots (can be analyzed via the access log)
- a large computing operation on the BOX, e.g. exporting data
- hanging cron jobs
More CPU cores = More power?
For scenarios where you're expecting high load due to heavy traffic, e.g. because of a TV appearance or a large advertising campaign, one optimization measure is to increase the CPU cores. After all, the server must be able to handle more load when there are many visitors and corresponding database queries (for example, displaying products according to different filters). We like to use the example of a fast-food restaurant to explain the principle:
Imagine the server of your WordPress site is a fast-food restaurant. Each employee represents one CPU core. If there's only one person behind the counter, only one request can be processed at a time. When you only have a few visitors, this isn't going to causes any issues.
However, if the number of visitors becomes so high that the employee is overwhelmed with the requests, more employees (i.e. more CPU cores) are required. The more employees there are in the fast-food restaurant, the more orders can be processed at the same time. In other words: if there is too little CPU capacity and increased traffic, the system may be overloaded. You can see this in the BOX Status.
In this context, it's important to understand that having more CPU cores doesn't automatically improve the page speed - the individual cores work equally fast after all. Increasing the number of cores instead ensures that more requests can be processed simultaneously and your shop doesn't get overloaded.
Are you expecting a surge in traffic?
Our Head of Development Matthias explains how to prepare your WordPress website for high traffic in this article.
How much RAM you have at your disposal also depends on what plan your BOX is on. For example, a STARTER BOX has 2 GB of RAM while a BOX on the PRO XL plan has 8 GB.
The x-axis (the horizontal axis) of the RAM graph shows the selected time period. The y-axis (the vertical axis) shows the RAM usage value in GB. The markings for a 70% and 85% usage are only reading aids. They do not indicate that your RAM is, or was in the past, exhausted. Otherwise, this graph works exactly like the one for CPU usage.
My RAM usage is high - why and what can I do about it?
There are several reasons why your RAM usage would show a high value. In general, a high RAM usage doesn't indicate that your site is unavailable or that it's not working properly. It just means that your RAM has to work extra hard at certain times. Reasons for this can be, for example, plugins or themes that require a lot of RAM to work.
What is an overload?
Isolated usage peaks do not mean that your site is overloaded. We can only speak of an overload if the RAM load is at 100 percent over a longer period of time. An overload can be caused, for example, by working in the WordPress admin dashboard in parallel - especially when working with page builders or in the case of larger imports.
What is high RAM usage?
If the RAM usage is in the range of high or very high for a longer period of time, this is called high RAM usage. Again, a high RAM usage isn't necessarily a cause for concern. It's only indicates that many processes have to be processed on your site. This can happen, for example, when you're working with plugins or themes that require a lot of PHP memory.
If the RAM on your site is used at full capacity, i.e. is at 100 percent over a long period of time, then errors and failures may occur on your site.
High RAM usage is only a symptom
It's important to understand the following in this context: high RAM usage is never the real problem, it's just a symptom of the real problem. This problem could be, for example, an import with files that are too large.
WordPress cron jobs
All your BOX's cron jobs are also displayed in the BOX Status. This means you can check directly whether any problems on your site might be related to the cron jobs. The list doesn't just show you all the cron jobs running, you also have the option to cancel cron jobs in the BOX Status.
If you're not sure what cron jobs are and how they work or you'd like to check if cron jobs are causing problems on your site, have a read through our Help Center article on cron jobs or ask a web design professional for help.
Your BOX's change log
The change log is a new feature that you can only view in your BOX Status. It shows you which actions were performed by which users and when.
Important: These logs only show changes at server level or in the RAIDBOXES Dashboard and not changes made in WordPress.
In the example above, we turned SSL on for a test BOX and turned it off again about five minutes later.
If you find changes from the user RAIDBOXES in your BOX's change log, these changes were made by a RAIDBOXES super admin. Entries from the user SYSTEM are automatic system changes.
The BOX Status gives you direct access to your site's access, error, and WP debug log. Important: You first need to activate the debug log in order to use it.
We appreciate your input!
If you have any questions or feedback about our BOX Status feature or monitoring data, please feel free to leave us a comment. If you have specific questions about your BOX, please contact our support team via chat or firstname.lastname@example.org.