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This page describes what to do in case of an Icinga alert. For more information you could search the govuk-puppet repo for the source of the alert
Last updated: 5 Apr 2022

Mirror GOV.UK content to S3

What this alert means

The govuk_sync_mirror cronjob has not succeeded for 24h. govuk_sync_mirror is a script that runs hourly to upload new or changed GOV.UK content to the static mirror in S3. Fastly automatically serves content from the S3 mirror when a request to the origin fails.


Provided www-origin and assets-origin are working perfectly, there should be no user-visible impact. If the origin has a problem however, we will fail to serve content which was published after the govuk_sync_mirror job stopped working.

Fastly falls back to the S3 mirror on a per-request basis, so even intermittent unavailability or partial outages limited to specific GOV.UK features can result in user traffic being served from mirrors. In practice, even on a good day there is still a tiny proportion of user traffic which is served from the mirrors.

The static mirrors are a key part of GOV.UK’s business continuity plan. It’s very important that they are up-to-date in case of an outage. This overview of how the mirrors are created and used gives more context.


You can see stats in Graphite of how long recent runs of govuk_sync_mirror have been taking.

Check the syslog logs on the mirrorer machine for any errors.

grep govuk_sync_mirror /var/log/syslog

Check that the govuk_sync_mirror cron job exists.

sudo crontab -lu govuk-crawler

Check whether there is a job currently running. The ps output shows the start time (12:00 in this example).

$ ps auxww |grep govuk_sync_mirror
govuk-c+  5220  0.0  0.0   4452   684 ?        Ss   12:00   0:00 /bin/sh -c /usr/bin/setlock -n /var/run/govuk_sync_mirror.lock /usr/local/bin/govuk_sync_mirror
govuk-c+  5221  0.0  0.0  11168  2984 ?        S    12:00   0:00 bash /usr/local/bin/govuk_sync_mirror

The job typically takes between 1 and 12 hours to run, depending on how much new/changed content there is. It’s very slow because it uses s3cmd sync, which (unlike aws s3 sync) does not parallelise uploading the files to S3.

If need be, try running the script manually. Unfortunately it doesn’t normally produce any output; you will need to check /var/log/syslog for this. You may want to run the following in a screen or tmux session as the sync job can take several hours.

# Switch to the right user
sudo -iu govuk-crawler

# Look at the govuk-crawler user's crontab to find the command to run.
crontab -l

# Run the command. For example:
/usr/bin/setlock -n /var/run/govuk_sync_mirror.lock /usr/local/bin/govuk_sync_mirror

If it aborts straight away, double-check whether there is already a job running.

$ sudo lsof /var/run/govuk_sync_mirror.lock
bash    5221 govuk-crawler    3wW  REG   0,19        0  348 /run/govuk_sync_mirror.lock
s3cmd   5233 govuk-crawler    3w   REG   0,19        0  348 /run/govuk_sync_mirror.lock

The static mirror has not been updated in n seconds

This alert means that the S3 static mirror has not been updated for over 24h. The govuk_sync_mirror script writes a file to the S3 mirror bucket every time it runs, this alert checks when that file was last modified.