tune apache performance using mpm prefork module

By | February 21, 2015

tune apache performance using mpm prefork module

apache logo

To do this, just include the below lines into your httpd.conf apache configuration file:

<IfModule mpm_prefork_module>
StartServers 2
MinSpareServers 2
MaxSpareServers 5
MaxClients 200 #must be customized
ServerLimit 200 #must be customized
MaxRequestsPerChild 100

KeepAlive Off

Some explanations are here:

  • StartServers – this is how many apache instances should start at the very beginning when apache is started. I set it to 2, and it works fine for me.


  • MinSpareServers – minimum number of spare servers that should be running waiting for potential requests. MinSpareServers=2 worked fine for me too.


  • MaxSpareServers – maximum number of spare servers that should be running waiting for potential requests, obviously >= MinSpareServers. In my working example MaxSpareServers=5.


  • MaxClients & ServerLimit.For example, if in average one your Apache process consumes 50MB RAM and server RAM is 2GB, and you want to leave 512MB for the rest processes, then:
    MaxClients = (2GB – 512MB)/50MB = 30.72 ~ 30.
    ServerLimit is, as I understand, the same thing, but while MaxClient setting can be changed on the go without a need to restart Apache, for new ServerLimit value to take effect Apache restart is required. MaxClients should always be <= ServerLimit. To make it easy, I set ServerLimit = MaxClients calculated by above formula.


  • By default MaxRequestsPerChild = 0, which means that httpd process will never expire. However, it can happen that there are some memory leaks in your PHP scripts (especially if you are using lot’s of third-party contributed modules). To protect yourself from accidental memory leaks, you can set how many requests should be processed by Apache process before it dies. In my example I used MaxRequestsPerChild = 100 and it worked fine. You can experiment to find a value that suits you better.


  • KeepAlive directive description is pretty straight forward on Apache site. If KeepAlive is On, it allows multiple requests to be sent over the same TCP connection, which can boost site performance up to 50% for some sites. This mostly works for pages that have lot’s of images. However, I’ve noticed that it can lead to the situation when processes never die and that can load the server a lot. Instead, I’m using a proxy server to serve images and other static content (I’ll make another post to clarify it) and in my configs KeepAlive is set to Off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.