Configuring NGINX for Metric Collection

Learn how to configure NGINX Instances to collect data.

To monitor an NGINX instance, the agent must find the relevant NGINX master process and determine its key characteristics.

Metrics from stub_status

You must define stub_status in your NGINX configuration for key NGINX graphs to appear in the web interface. If stub_status is already enabled, the agent should be able to locate it automatically.

If you’re using NGINX Plus, you must configure either the stub_status module or the NGINX Plus API module.

Without stub_status or the NGINX Plus status API, the agent will NOT be able to collect key NGINX metrics required for further monitoring and analysis.

Add the stub_status configuration as follows (You may also grab this config snippet here):

# cd /etc/nginx

# grep -i include\.*conf nginx.conf
    include /etc/nginx/conf.d/*.conf;

# cat > conf.d/stub_status.conf
server {
    location /nginx_status {
        stub_status on;
        deny all;

# ls -la conf.d/stub_status.conf
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 162 Nov  4 02:40 conf.d/stub_status.conf

# nginx -t
nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

# kill -HUP `cat /var/run/`

Test your nginx configuration after you’ve added the stub_status section above. Make sure there’s no ambiguity with either listen or server_name configuration. The agent should be able to identify the stub_status URL and will default to use if the configuration is incomplete.

If you use the conf.d*directory to keep common parts of your NGINX configuration that are then automatically included in the server sections across your NGINX config, do not use the snippet above. Instead, you should configure stub_status manually within an appropriate location or server block.

There’s no need to use exactly the above example nginx_status URI for stub_status. The agent will determine the correct URI automatically upon parsing your NGINX configuration. Please make sure that the directory and the actual configuration file with stub_status are readable by the agent; otherwise, the agent won’t be able to determine the stub_status URL correctly. If the agent fails to find stub_status, please refer to the workaround described here.

Please ensure the stub_status ACL is correctly configured, especially if your system is IPv6-enabled. Test the reachability of stub_status metrics with wget(1) or curl(1). When testing, use the exact URL matching your NGINX configuration.

For more information about stub_status, please refer to the NGINX documentation here.

If everything is configured properly, you should see something along these lines when testing it with curl(1):

$ curl
Active connections: 2
server accepts handled requests
 344014 344014 661581
Reading: 0 Writing: 1 Waiting: 1

If the command doesn’t produce the expected output, confirm where the requests to /nginx_status are being routed. In many cases other server blocks can be why you can’t access stub_status.

The agent uses data from stub_status to calculate metrics related to server-wide HTTP connections and requests as described below:

nginx.http.conn.accepted = stub_status.accepts = - stub_status.waiting
nginx.http.conn.current =
nginx.http.conn.dropped = stub_status.accepts - stub_status.handled
nginx.http.conn.idle = stub_status.waiting
nginx.http.request.count = stub_status.requests
nginx.http.request.current = stub_status.reading + stub_status.writing
nginx.http.request.reading = stub_status.reading
nginx.http.request.writing = stub_status.writing

For NGINX Plus the agent will automatically use similar metrics available from the status API.

For more information about the metric list, please refer to Metrics and Metadata.

Metrics from access.log and error.log

NGINX Amplify Agent will also collect more NGINX metrics from the access.log and the error.log files. To do that, the agent should be able to read the logs. Ensure that the nginx user or the user defined in the NGINX config (such as www-data) can read the log files. Please also make sure that the log files are being written normally.

You don’t have to specifically point the agent to either the NGINX configuration or the NGINX log files — it should detect their location automatically.

The agent will also try to detect the log format for a particular log to parse it properly and try to extract even more useful metrics, e.g., $upstream_response_time.

Several metrics outlined in Metrics and Metadata will only be available if the corresponding variables are included in a custom access.log format used for logging requests. You can find a complete list of NGINX log variables here.

Using Syslog for Metric Collection

If you configured the agent for syslog metric collection (see the configuring syslog documentation), make sure to add the following settings to the NGINX configuration:

  1. Check that you are using NGINX version 1.9.5 or newer (or NGINX Plus Release 8 or newer).

  2. Edit the NGINX configuration file and specify the syslog listener address as the first parameter to the access.log directive. Include the amplify tag, and your preferred log format:

    access_log syslog:server=,tag=amplify,severity=info main_ext;

    (see also how to extend the NGINX log format to collect additional metrics)

  3. Reload NGINX:

    # service nginx reload

    (see more here)

To send the NGINX logs to both the existing logging facility and the Amplify Agent, include a separate access.log directive for each destination.