Nginx full configuration with best performance

NGINX Tuning For Best Performance

This post assume that you are linux user and logged as root user.

This post is written by margining many configuration files at once so you may find same configuration at nginx official websiteas well.

Nginx tune up are dived into two major part

  1. Nginx main configuration file called as nginx.conf
  2. Another one is called as virtual host file wich located in eather conf.d directory or sites-enable folder based on linux flavour.

Backup your original configs and you can start reconfigure your configs. You will need to open your nginx.conf at /etc/nginx/nginx.conf with your favorite editor.

Lets configure first file nginx.conf

    # you must set worker processes based on your CPU cores, nginx does not benefit from setting more than that
    worker_processes auto; #some last versions calculate it automatically

    # number of file descriptors used for nginx
    # the limit for the maximum FDs on the server is usually set by the OS.
    # if you don't set FD's then OS settings will be used which is by default 2000
    worker_rlimit_nofile 100000;

    # only log critical errors
    error_log /var/log/nginx/error.log crit;

    # provides the configuration file context in which the directives that affect connection processing are specified.
    events {
        # determines how much clients will be served per worker
        # max clients = worker_connections * worker_processes
        # max clients is also limited by the number of socket connections available on the system (~64k)
        worker_connections 4000;

        # optimized to serve many clients with each thread, essential for linux -- for testing environment
        use epoll;

        # accept as many connections as possible, may flood worker connections if set too low -- for testing environment
        multi_accept on;

    http {

        # don't send the nginx version number in error pages and Server header
        server_tokens off;

        # config to don't allow the browser to render the page inside an frame or iframe
        # and avoid clickjacking
        # if you need to allow [i]frames, you can use SAMEORIGIN or even set an uri with ALLOW-FROM uri
        add_header X-Frame-Options SAMEORIGIN;

        # when serving user-supplied content, include a X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff header along with the Content-Type: header,
        # to disable content-type sniffing on some browsers.
        # currently suppoorted in IE > 8
        # 'soon' on Firefox
        add_header X-Content-Type-Options nosniff;

        # This header enables the Cross-site scripting (XSS) filter built into most recent web browsers.
        # It's usually enabled by default anyway, so the role of this header is to re-enable the filter for 
        # this particular website if it was disabled by the user.
        add_header X-XSS-Protection "1; mode=block";

        # with Content Security Policy (CSP) enabled(and a browser that supports it(,
        # you can tell the browser that it can only download content from the domains you explicitly allow
        # I need to change our application code so we can increase security by disabling 'unsafe-inline' 'unsafe-eval'
        # directives for css and js(if you have inline css or js, you will need to keep it too).
        # more:
        add_header Content-Security-Policy "default-src 'self'; script-src 'self' 'unsafe-inline' 'unsafe-eval'; img-src 'self'; style-src 'self' 'unsafe-inline'; font-src 'self'; frame-src; object-src 'none'";

        # cache informations about FDs, frequently accessed files
        # can boost performance, but you need to test those values
        open_file_cache max=200000 inactive=20s;
        open_file_cache_valid 30s;
        open_file_cache_min_uses 2;
        open_file_cache_errors on;

        # to boost I/O on HDD we can disable access logs
        access_log off;

        # copies data between one FD and other from within the kernel
        # faster than read() + write()
        sendfile on;

        # send headers in one piece, it is better than sending them one by one
        tcp_nopush on;

        # don't buffer data sent, good for small data bursts in real time
        tcp_nodelay on;

        # reduce the data that needs to be sent over network -- for testing environment
        gzip on;
        # gzip_static on;
        gzip_min_length 10240;
        gzip_comp_level 1;
        gzip_vary on;
        gzip_disable msie6;
        gzip_proxied expired no-cache no-store private auth;
            # text/html is always compressed by HttpGzipModule

        # allow the server to close connection on non responding client, this will free up memory
        reset_timedout_connection on;

        # request timed out -- default 60
        client_body_timeout 10;

        # if client stop responding, free up memory -- default 60
        send_timeout 2;

        # server will close connection after this time -- default 75
        keepalive_timeout 30;

        # number of requests client can make over keep-alive -- for testing environment
        keepalive_requests 100000;

NGINX internal

Lets configure first file virtualhost.conf

Ref: how to generate SSL confguration file or `dhparam.pem

# redirect all http traffic to https server { # Listen port 80 at ipv4 and ipv6 listen 80; listen [::]:80; # server name would be your server FQDN or dns host name or ip address seperated by space server_name; return 301 https://$host$request_uri; } server { # Listen port 443 at ipv4 and ipv6 listen 443 ssl; listen [::]:443 ssl; # server name would be your server FQDN or dns host name or ip address seperated by space server_name; root /var/www/html; ssl_certificate /etc/nginx/ssl/star_forgott_com.crt; ssl_certificate_key /etc/nginx/ssl/star_forgott_com.key; add_header X-Frame-Options "SAMEORIGIN"; add_header X-XSS-Protection "1; mode=block"; add_header X-Content-Type-Options "nosniff"; # Logs access_log /var/log/nginx/example-com-access.log; error_log /var/log/nginx/example-com-error.log; index index.php index.html; charset utf-8; location / { try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$query_string; } location = /favicon.ico { access_log off; log_not_found off; } location = /robots.txt { access_log off; log_not_found off; } location ~ \.php$ { # Fast cgi run's on ip + port combination fastcgi_pass; fastcgi_read_timeout 300; include fastcgi_params; fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root/$fastcgi_script_name; } }

NGINX Simple DDoS Defense

This is far away from secure DDoS defense but can slow down some small DDoS. Those configs are also in test environment and you should do your values.

    # limit the number of connections per single IP
    limit_conn_zone $binary_remote_addr zone=conn_limit_per_ip:10m;

    # limit the number of requests for a given session
    limit_req_zone $binary_remote_addr zone=req_limit_per_ip:10m rate=5r/s;

    # zone which we want to limit by upper values, we want limit whole server
    server {
        limit_conn conn_limit_per_ip 10;
        limit_req zone=req_limit_per_ip burst=10 nodelay;

    # if the request body size is more than the buffer size, then the entire (or partial)
    # request body is written into a temporary file
    client_body_buffer_size  128k;

    # buffer size for reading client request header -- for testing environment
    client_header_buffer_size 3m;

    # maximum number and size of buffers for large headers to read from client request
    large_client_header_buffers 4 256k;

    # read timeout for the request body from client -- for testing environment
    client_body_timeout   3m;

    # how long to wait for the client to send a request header -- for testing environment
    client_header_timeout 3m;

Now you can do again test config

nginx -t # /etc/init.d/nginx configtest

And then reload or restart your nginx

nginx -s reload
/etc/init.d/nginx reload|restart

You can test this configuration with tsung and when you are satisfied with result you can hit Ctrl+C because it can run for hours.

Increase The Maximum Number Of Open Files (nofile limit) – Linux

Two ways to raise the nofile/max open files/file descriptors/file handles limit for NGINX in RHEL/CentOS 7+. With NGINX running, checking current limit on master process

$ cat /proc/$(cat /var/run/ | grep open.files
Max open files            1024                 4096                 files

And worker processes

ps --ppid $(cat /var/run/ -o %p|sed '1d'|xargs -I{} cat /proc/{}/limits|grep open.files

Max open files            1024                 4096                 files
Max open files            1024                 4096                 files

Trying with the worker_rlimit_nofile directive in {,/usr/local}/etc/nginx/nginx.conf fails as SELinux policy doesn't allow setrlimit. This is shown in /var/log/nginx/error.log

015/07/24 12:46:40 [alert] 12066#0: setrlimit(RLIMIT_NOFILE, 2342) failed (13: Permission denied)

And in /var/log/audit/audit.log

type=AVC msg=audit(1437731200.211:366): avc:  denied  { setrlimit } for  pid=12066 comm="nginx" scontext=system_u:system_r:httpd_t:s0 tcontext=system_u:system_r:httpd_t:s0 tclass=process

nolimit without Systemd

# /etc/security/limits.conf
# /etc/default/nginx (ULIMIT)
$ nano /etc/security/limits.d/nginx.conf
nginx   soft    nofile  65536
nginx   hard    nofile  65536
$ sysctl -p

nolimit with Systemd

$ mkdir -p /etc/systemd/system/nginx.service.d
$ nano /etc/systemd/system/nginx.service.d/nginx.conf
$ systemctl daemon-reload
$ systemctl restart nginx.service

SELinux boolean httpd_setrlimit to true(1)

This will set fd limits for the worker processes. Leave the worker_rlimit_nofile directive in {,/usr/local}/etc/nginx/nginx.conf and run the following as root

setsebool -P httpd_setrlimit 1

DoS HTTP/1.1 and above: Range Requests

By default max_ranges is not limited. DoS attacks can many Range-Requests (Impact on stability I/O).

Socket Sharding in NGINX 1.9.1+ (DragonFly BSD and Linux 3.9+)

Socket type Latency (ms) Latency stdev (ms) CPU Load
Default 15.65 26.59 0.3
accept_mutex off 15.59 26.48 10
reuseport 12.35 3.15 0.3

Thread Pools in NGINX Boost Performance 9x! (Linux)

Multi-threaded sending of files is currently supported only Linux. Without sendfile_max_chunk limit, one fast connection may seize the worker process entirely.

Selecting an upstream based on SSL protocol version

map $ssl_preread_protocol $upstream {

# ssh and https on the same port
server {
    proxy_pass  $upstream;
    ssl_preread on;

Happy Hacking!

  • (openssl engine -t)

Static analyzers


Syntax highlighting


NGINX config formatter


NGINX configuration tools


BBR (Linux 4.9+)

  • Linux v4.13+ as no longer required FQ (q_disc) with BBR.
  • If the latest Linux kernel distribution does not have tcp_bbr enabled by default:
modprobe tcp_bbr && echo 'tcp_bbr' >> /etc/modules-load.d/bbr.conf
echo 'net.ipv4.tcp_congestion_control=bbr' >> /etc/sysctl.d/99-bbr.conf
# Recommended for production, but with  Linux v4.13rc1+ can be used not only in FQ (`q_disc') in BBR mode.
echo 'net.core.default_qdisc=fq' >> /etc/sysctl.d/99-bbr.conf
sysctl --system

Tags: nginx, server, linux

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