TCP time_wait and port exhaustion for servers

joel jaeggli joelja at
Wed Dec 5 17:22:39 UTC 2012

On 12/5/12 9:09 AM, Ray Soucy wrote:
> This would be outgoing connections sourced from the IP of the proxy,
> destined to whatever remote website (so 80 or 443) requested by the
> user.
> Essentially it's a modified Squid service that is used to filter HTTP
> for CIPA compliance (required by the government) for keep children in
> public schools from stumbling on to inappropriate content.
> Like most web traffic, the majority of these connections open and
> close in under a second.  When we get to a point that there is enough
> traffic from users behind the proxy to be generating over 500 new
> outgoing connections per second, sustained, we start having users
> experience an error where there are no local ports available to Squid
> to use since they're all tied up in a TIME_WAIT state.
> Here is an example of netstat totals on a box we're seeing the behavior on:
>     10 LAST_ACK
>     32 LISTEN
>      5 SYN_RECV
>      5 CLOSE_WAIT
>     26 FIN_WAIT1
>     40 FIN_WAIT2
>      5 CLOSING
>     10 SYN_SENT
> 481947 TIME_WAIT
> As a band-aid we've opened up the local port range to allow up to 50K
> local ports with /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_local_port_range, but they're
> brushing up against that limit again at peak times.
We've found it necessary to use address pools to source outgoing 
connections from our DC devices in order to prevent collisions with 
ports in timewait. for some particularly high traffic destinations for 
us. It kinda sucks to burn a /28 or shorter per outbound proxy, but 
there you have it.
> It's a shame because memory and CPU-wise the box isn't breaking a sweat.
> Enabling TW_REUSE doesn't seem to have any effect for this case
> (/proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_tw_reuse)
> Using TW_RECYCLE drops the TIME_WAIT count to about 10K instead of
> 50K, but everything I read online says to avoid using TW_RECYCLE
> because it will break things horribly.
> Someone responded off-list saying that TIME_WAIT is controlled by
> /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_fin_timeout, but that is just incorrect
> information that has been parroted by a lot on blogs.  There is no
> relation between fin_timeout and TCP_TIMEWAIT_LEN.
> This level of use seems to translate into about 250 Mbps of traffic on
> average, FWIW.
> On Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 11:56 AM, JÁKÓ András <jako.andras at> wrote:
>>   Ray,
>>> With a 60 second timeout on TIME_WAIT, local port identifiers are tied
>>> up from being used for new outgoing connections (in this case a proxy
>>> server).  The default local port range on Linux can easily be
>>> adjusted; but even when bumped up to a range of 32K ports, the 60
>>> second timeout means you can only sustain about 500 new connections
>>> per second before you run out of ports.
>> Is that 500 new connections per second per {protocol, remote address,
>> remote port} tuple, that's too few for your proxy? (OK, this tuple is more
>> or less equivalent with only {remote address} if we talk about a web
>> proxy.) Just curious.
>> Regards,
>> András

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