h2ooooooo h2ooooooo - 21 days ago 5
Apache Configuration Question

session_start seems to be very slow (but only sometimes)

For some odd reason, just today our server decided to be very slow during the starting of sessions. For every session_start, the server either times out after 30 seconds, or it'll take about 20 seconds for it to start the session. This is very weird, seeing as it hasn't done this for a very long time (the last time our server did this was about 7 months ago). I've tried to change the session to run through a database instead, and that works fine, however, as our current website is built, it'd take days to go on every page and change the loading of sessions to include a new session handler. Therefore my question remains:

Why is it so slow, and why only sometimes?

We run on a dedicated hetzner server with 24GB's of ram, and a CPU fast enough to just run a simple webserver (a Xeon, I believe, but I'm not sure). We run debian on the server with an apache+fastcgi+php5 setup.

The server doesn't report much load, neither through server-status as well as the

reports no problem whatsoever with our network link (again, that wouldn't result in a slow local session handling).
reports no problem with processes taking over the entire harddrive. Writing to the tmp folder where the session files are located works fast if done through vim.

Again, to make this clear, my main concern here isn't whether or not we should switch to a DB or a memory-cached version of the sessions, it's simply to ask why this happens, because everything I take a look at seems to be working fine, except for the PHP itself.

The maximum file in our PHP tmp directory is 2.9 MB, so nothing that should make an impact, I believe.

UPDATE: I did never figure out what was wrong and/or how to fix it, but the problem disappeared after we switched over to memcached/db sessions.


Have you tried session_write_close(); ? This will disable write-ability in session variables but you can still read data from them. And later when you need to write a session variable, reopen it.

I have also suffered from this problem but this thing worked like a charm. This is what i do:

session_start(); //starts the session
session_write_close();   // close write capability
echo $_SESSION['user']; // you can still access it