How can I check Nginx error logs?

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To troubleshoot issues effectively, it’s crucial to inspect the Nginx error logs. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of checking Nginx error logs using various commands.

Default Error Log Location

The default location for Nginx error logs is often set in the Nginx configuration file. Usually, it is found in /var/log/nginx/error.log. You can use the following command to view the last few lines of the error log:

sudo tail -n 20 /var/log/nginx/error.log

This command displays the last 20 lines of the error log, helping you quickly identify recent issues.

Custom Log Paths

If your Nginx configuration specifies a custom path for error logs, you should check that path instead. Replace /path/to/custom/error.log with your custom path in the following command:

sudo tail -n 20 /path/to/custom/error.log

Adjust the number after -n to view the desired number of lines.

Grep for Specific Errors

Sometimes, you may want to filter the error logs for specific errors or patterns. Using grep is handy for such scenarios. For instance, to find occurrences of “404 Not Found” errors:

sudo cat /var/log/nginx/error.log | grep "404 Not Found"

This command displays lines containing the specified error, aiding in focused troubleshooting.

Viewing Real-Time Logs

To monitor error logs in real time, you can use the tail command with the -f option:

sudo tail -f /var/log/nginx/error.log

This command continuously displays new log entries as they occur, providing a live feed of errors.

Test Configuration Syntax

Nginx provides a built-in tool to check the syntax of your configuration files. Use the following command to verify the syntax without restarting Nginx:

sudo nginx -t

This command helps catch configuration errors before they lead to runtime issues.

Reload Nginx After Configuration Changes

After making changes to the Nginx configuration, it’s essential to reload the server to apply the changes. Avoid using restart to prevent downtime:

sudo systemctl reload nginx

This command gracefully reloads the configuration, ensuring a smooth transition without interrupting active connections.


Effectively managing and troubleshooting Nginx errors requires regular inspection of error logs. Utilizing the commands and techniques outlined in this article empowers you to identify and resolve issues promptly, maintaining the optimal performance of your web server. Stay proactive in monitoring logs and addressing errors to ensure a seamless web hosting experience.

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