Cleaning /var/lib/php/sessions - 100% inodes usage - Ubuntu 16.04

Posted March 23, 2021 751 views
PHPUbuntu 16.04

After having issues doing anything on one of my Ubuntu 16.04 droplets due to disc usage errors, I found that I was running out of inodes and there are about 6.2m of them in /var/lib/php/sessions.

I recently updated from PHP 5 to PHP 7, I think this has caused the issue.

My questions are:

What’s the best way to clean sessions from this folder to free up inodes?

How can I prevent this from happening again?

I have this

09,39 *     * * *     root   [ -x /usr/lib/php/sessionclean ] && if [ ! -d /run/systemd/system ]; then /usr/lib/php/sessionclean; fi

in etc/cron.d/php but it doesn’t appear to be working.

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1 answer

Hi there,

I believe that this is a good approach.

What happens if you try to run the script manually:


Do you get any errors?


  • Thanks for that.

    Running sudo /usr/lib/php/sessionclean seems to be working. It’s been 10 minutes now and no error has come up, but the command has not completed. However disk IO is 20MB/s so I think it’s working.

    What’s the best way to troubleshoot the cron job not executing this command?

    • Hi there @umpire,

      This is a good news!

      Regarding the cron job, what I could suggest is checking your cron log with:

      sudo grep CRON /var/log/syslog

      Let me know how it goes!


      • syslog was empty, looking in syslog.1 returned:

        May 15 06:40:58 box cron[1449]: (CRON) INFO (pidfile fd = 3)
        May 15 06:40:58 box cron[1449]: (CRON) INFO (Running @reboot jobs)
        May 15 07:09:01 box CRON[14624]: (root) CMD (  [ -x /usr/lib/php/sessionclean ] && /usr/lib/php/sessionclean)
        May 15 07:17:01 box CRON[14911]: (root) CMD (   cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly)
        May 15 07:39:01 box CRON[15612]: (root) CMD (  [ -x /usr/lib/php/sessionclean ] && /usr/lib/php/sessionclean)

        All entries in the file are dated May 15 - would it be logging anywhere else? I can’t see any more syslog files in /var/log. I believe my system time is setup correctly.

        • Hi there,

          This is quite interesting, I could suggest checking the status of your cron service and make sure that it is running:

          sudo systemctl status cron

          If it is not running you can start it with:

          sudo systemctl start cron

          Let me know if this helps!

          • Hi Bobby,

            It says that Cron is running with 1 task (plus some other information). No visible errors.

            syslog is still empty and syslog.1 still has nothing since May 15. However the inodes aren’t filling up which is good I suppose.

            Could cron be logging somewhere else perhaps?


        • Hi there,

          I think that you should be able to check the log with the following command instead:

          sudo journalctl -u cron.service

          You could search by pressing / and then typing the word that you are looking for.

          Let me know how it goes!