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Detecting top CPU/IO consumers on Linux

Sometimes your server responds very slowly. If you are sure it's not a networking problem (no packet loss on traceroute) you have to check other resources that may influence performance: CPU and IO.

CPU is pretty easy to check: simply run top and sort list by CPU usage (P key):


IO bottlenecks are harder to find. You can install tool names iotop (apt-get install iotop) and see which processes consume your IO. In my case (old stable kernel) I got the following error on iotop run:

# iotop
Could not run iotop as some of the requirements are not met:
- Python >= 2.5 for AF_NETLINK support: Found
- Linux >= 2.6.20 with I/O accounting support: Not found
# uname -r

Ops. There's alternative and more portable way to see which processes may be our suspects. It's D state:

# man ps
D    Uninterruptible sleep (usually IO)

Simply watch output of this command:

watch -n 1 "(ps aux | awk '\$8 ~ /D|R/  { print \$0 }')"

and your suspects (processes in D state) will be visible. Also you will see current process in R state (running, use CPU).

Happy hunting!