Question

Site Crashed - Unreadable Content within my Error Logs

My site recently crashed, while trying to determine what was causing the issue I entered the command:

# cd /var/log/apache2
root@*********:/var/log/apache2# ls

and got this:

access.log       error.log.2.gz                 other_vhosts_access.log.16.gz
error.log        error.log.3.gz                 other_vhosts_access.log.17.gz
error.log.1      error.log.4.gz                 other_vhosts_access.log.18.gz
error.log.10.gz  error.log.5.gz                 other_vhosts_access.log.19.gz
error.log.11.gz  error.log.6.gz                 other_vhosts_access.log.20.gz
error.log.12.gz  error.log.7.gz                 other_vhosts_access.log.21.gz
error.log.13.gz  error.log.8.gz                 other_vhosts_access.log.22.gz
error.log.14.gz  error.log.9.gz                 other_vhosts_access.log.2.gz
error.log.15.gz  other_vhosts_access.log        other_vhosts_access.log.3.gz
error.log.16.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.1      other_vhosts_access.log.4.gz
error.log.17.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.10.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.5.gz
error.log.18.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.11.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.6.gz
error.log.19.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.12.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.7.gz
error.log.20.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.13.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.8.gz
error.log.21.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.14.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.9.gz
error.log.22.gz  other_vhosts_access.log.15.gz

Obviously I was curious so I entered this command:

root@**********:/var/log/apache2# nano error.log.10.gz

… and received this:

^_^H^@ZU^@^CPKk^B1^P+-h6Y7jr^^*=^TAzRfM!7+^Vzaf^^]v{`
Ѕld-ii˅^\^Zʅ;`?G^_>ɅtXх^D^Uea-^Rփ X7%Kxx;d#l7ۚ^SNČ[%^B:$
q(s^Lu<^XWE#F^ZH*H^R^?Űd^RXn^U[ITK.%)h?ڼ^O&# Qiua^DF^]$
^nײU6^Ad^H ^_Բx/yy(6c,&-:^[ɲ_JH(^B^@^@

I opened another one and got this:

ST^_^H^@@U^@^C]sȓ
]~$4^Oi$Rd^S;vY;r^M0Q0&^?^Hpx0^XcX{k ^Aَݎ ~M^Ou,DZ0-䱞ձ=ۨבa^Ñ^?kS ְ^]T' Mm'ǰ'g^Gǰ^_O^XﰞΰΰNjȲ^Xض^Ml㶞Ķx *ᶞͮaZ̮$
Hz;X^WIg<F 6^E^VFc<?00"xޔQ^Ô^Q^WƔwޕӰH^WF7ϓz֓^Uab^Mԓ'^V<[^UYm     6L=|À݊^A:r^G^E0^HnƊⒷ^YI^GqV#뒷TlhHٛ^Z^Y6($
|| A'~^G<%~?SM~S
 n~f|<3\^K0^^^?u^K#^Cboƾh^Zm+ݲ^W-jC^M+r^@_Duղ)v^FO^G{ hڲͲ۲      ^?`^E"~˱^HѱpƱ6S2=wjG^FWڱ}^^^L^[ϫ.̫IZ$
$xr^NkG\YWQ8è뎵(1Ύd^N厵Ύo[>쎵莸Hd#V4L ێed^Sl̎,ߎ^DԎˎ"6\掸ގ^C^WML^G^K8r.[f^^F^_편f;^Lĵё^C^FU^R^Vfm^Mꑸ쐭m^PsPZ^Kp$
L^Stк^S!غHe?6Kl^T}^]E ^S-ݺY[.Ă,^O^Eب\X$^Fݨ=٨v(eb=lܨ@'.RrWt^V%`:SQ^QШy^N^PޔC^OAܔOM;^V!^Yn%ĔqI)`LJ^X|ǵ1E$
6V<)Rn"^G=^H0o^M6q;^?^^^^t{і0cΖ\^K1Ɩv^]9KkT;Oޖ^GΖ@d̖?
...

So not very much help to say the least. Can anyone give me some ideas on what caused the error within my error logs? I rebooted the droplet and the site is now back online but I’m concerned that whatever caused the crash will happen again since I have no idea how it started in the first place. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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Files ending with the extensiongz are “gzip” archives. The files are compressed in order to save space. To view them, you can use the zless tool. E.g.:

  1. zless error.log.10.gz

The program logrotate automatically compresses old log files. The one without the .gz file extension will be your most recent, uncompressed log file. It will most likely be the one that contains the information that you are looking for. To see just the most recent entries in the log, run:

  1. tail error.log