Understanding top and load averages


Well-Known Member
Feb 18, 2011
I'm just trying to understand the top output as I'm a little confused at what I'm looking at here. I'm running a quad core box, and when I run top the load averages are 7.33, 7.43, 7.10

From what I understand #cores=max load right? So doesn't this mean that my server is under some pretty bad strain? Or does it mean I have to divide each average by 4 to get the actual results so it would be 1.83, 1.86, 1.78?

Just trying to understand if I have something to worry about or nothing at all...


Well-Known Member
May 19, 2011
cPanel Access Level
Root Administrator
To put it simply, Load Average shows you the Number of processes, waiting to use the CPU(s) of your machine.

This is not a % of the CPU usage.

The CPU can either be 100% used or 100% unused, it cant be half used or 20% used logically.
But the Load Average shows you how many processes will be using the CPU shortly.

CPU Load Average != CPU % Used.

When you say the your Load Averages are: 7.33, 7.43, 7.10

Load Averages show you the value for an entire machine and not per CPU. They do not know the number of CPUs you have in your machine.

Assuming you had a single CPU:
This means that they are high and if you had a processor 7.33 times faster, it would have done your job instantly.
The load of 7.33 means you made it work 633% more times than what it could have done.

If you had 4 CPU's, then you can say that they are being overworked. Ideally it should have been 4.00
If you had 7 CPU's, then you can say that all are being used at their full potential.

To check out the actual CPU% used for the day use the command
Hope this clears your doubt.
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