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Nginx and PHP-FPM


Using Apache? Head on over to our Apache + PHP-FPM documentation.

Nginx is event-based, so it does not follow Apache’s style of spawning new processes or threads for each web page request. The end result is that even as load increases, memory and CPU usage remain manageable.


Server with the following technical specs:

  • CPU: 4 @ 2.7GHZ
  • RAM: 8GB

Quick Audit Nginx

There are three key areas to inspect when looking at Nginx for a PHP-FPM environment. These are worker_connections and worker_processes.

Worker Connections

Sets the maximum number of simultaneous connections that can be opened by a worker process. This is often set to the number of CPU cores.

Worker Processes

Sets the maximum number of simultaneous connections that can be opened by a worker process.



When looking to optimize PHP-FPM it is largely depends on the application itself. However a standard rule that would satisfy a broad subset of use cases would be:

pm.max_children = (Total RAM - Memory used for Linux, DB, etc.) / Average php process size

Helper Script:

ps -ylC php5-fpm --sort:rss | awk '!/RSS/ { s+=$8 } END { printf "%s\n", "Total memory used by PHP-FPM child processes: "; printf "%dM\n", s/

Quick Setup

At a most base level this seems to be the ideal setup based on peer review:

  • nginx (<=1.9.0)
  • zendopcache > apc (deprecated)
  • php-fpm (fastcgi)

Note: It is also important to highlight that single core php-fpm instances will not gain much of a performance improvement. PHP-FPM benefits proportionately to the number of cpu cores available. While a dual core would yield a performance gain. A recommended number would be at least 4 cores.

Detailed Setup

In the /etc/php5/fpm/pool.d/www.conf file:

user = www-data
group = www-data
chdir = /
listen =
pm = dynamic            (ondemand might be better for memory usage)
pm.max_children         (total RAM - (DB etc) / process size)
pm.start_servers        (1/4 of cpu cores)
pm.min_spare_servers    (1/2 of cpu cores)
pm.max_spare_servers    (total of cpur cores)
pm.max_requests         (high to prevent server respwan)
                        (tip: set really low to find memory leaks)

In the /etc/php5/fpm/conf.d/local.ini file:

memory_limit = 324M (WxT needs at minimum 256MB)

Then just execute the following commands:

nginx -s reload
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