Nginx Process Architecture

By:    Updated: January 26,2017

Nginx Process Architecture

Nginx runs several processes in memory; there is a single master process and several worker processes. There are also a couple of special purpose processes, specifically a cache loader and cache manager.All processes primarily use shared memory mechanisms for inter-process communication.

The master process is responsible for the following tasks:

  • reading and validating configuration
  • creating, binding and closing sockets
  • starting, terminating and maintaining the configured number of worker processes
  • reconfiguring without service interruption
  • controlling non-stop binary upgrades
  • re-opening log files
  • ...


The worker processes accept, handle and process connections from clients, provide reverse proxying and filtering functionality and do almost everything else that nginx is capable of. In regards to monitoring the behavior of an nginx instance, a system administrator should keep an eye on worker s as they are the processes reflecting the actual day-to-day operations of a web server.


The cache loader process is responsible for checking the on-disk cache items and populating nginx's in memory database with cache metadata. Essentially, the cache loader prepares nginx instances to work with files already stored on disk in a specially allocated directory structure. It traverses the directories, checks cache content metadata, updates the relevant entries in shared memory and then exits when everything is clean and ready for use.


The cache manager process is mostly responsible for cache expiration and invalidation. It stays in memory during normal nginx operation and it is restarted by the master process in the case of failure.


The architecture chart:

Nginx Process Architecture

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