Applications that handle a huge number of TCP connections, either as a server or as a client, will often see a large number of sockets in TIME_WAIT state. The sockets in TIME_WAIT can be seen with the “netstat -epn –tcp ” command. If the number of TIME_WAIT sockets gets too large, your address space will be exhausted, causing a disruption of TCP traffic.

The possible state values for TCP sockets are as follows:

Connection State Meaning
BOUND         Bound, ready to connect or listen.
CLOSED        Closed. The socket is not being used.
CLOSING       Closed, then remote shutdown; awaiting acknowledgment.
CLOSE_WAIT    Remote shutdown; waiting for the socket to close.
ESTABLISHED   Connection has been established.
FIN_WAIT_1    Socket closed; shutting down connection.
FIN_WAIT_2    Socket closed; waiting for shutdown from remote.
IDLE          Idle, opened but not bound.
LAST_ACK      Remote shutdown, then closed; awaiting acknowledgment.
LISTEN        Listening for incoming connections.
SYN_RECEIVED  Active/initiate synchronization received and the connection under way
SYN_SENT      Actively trying to establish connection.
TIME_WAIT     Wait after close for remote shutdown retransmission.


‘CLOSE_WAIT’ state means the other end of the connection has been closed while the local end is still waiting for the application to close.


Reducing CLOSE_WAIT connection


1. TCP_FIN_TIMEOUT This setting determines the time that must elapse before TCP/IP can release a closed connection and reuse its resources. During this TIME_WAIT state, reopening the connection to the client costs less than establishing a new connection. By reducing the value of this entry, TCP/IP can release closed connections faster, making more resources available for new connections. Addjust this in the presense of many connections sitting in the TIME_WAIT state:

# echo 30 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_fin_timeout
(default: 60 seconds, recommended 15-30 seconds)


2. TCP_KEEPALIVE_INTERVAL determines the wait time between isAlive interval probes. To set:

# echo 30 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_keepalive_intvl
(default: 75 seconds, recommended: 15-30 seconds)


3. TCP_KEEPALIVE_PROBES determines the number of probes before timing out. To set:

# echo 5 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_keepalive_probes
(default: 9, recommended 5)


4. TCP_TW_RECYCLE enables fast recycling of TIME_WAIT sockets. The default value is 0 (disabled). Known to cause some issues with hoststated (load balancing and fail over) if enabled, should be used with caution.

# echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_tw_recycle
(boolean, default: 0)


5. TCP_TW_REUSE allows reusing sockets in TIME_WAIT state for new connections when it is safe from protocol viewpoint. Default value is 0 (disabled). It is generally a safer alternative to tcp_tw_recycle

# echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_tw_reuse
(boolean, default: 0)


For persistently setting above parameters, use the /etc/sysctl.conf configuration file.

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