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2 Trigger expression


The expressions used in triggers are very flexible. You can use them to create complex logical tests regarding monitored statistics.

A simple useful expression might look like:


While the syntax is exactly the same, from the functional point of view there are two types of trigger expressions:

  • problem expression - defines the conditions of the problem
  • recovery expression (optional) - defines additional conditions of the problem resolution

When defining a problem expression alone, this expression will be used both as the problem threshold and the problem recovery threshold. As soon as the problem expression evaluates to TRUE, there is a problem. As soon as the problem expression evaluates to FALSE, the problem is resolved.

When defining both problem expression and the supplemental recovery expression, problem resolution becomes more complex: not only the problem expression has to be FALSE, but also the recovery expression has to be TRUE. This is useful to create hysteresis and avoid trigger flapping.


Trigger functions allow to reference the collected values, current time and other factors.

A complete list of supported functions is available.

All functions return numeric values only. String comparison is not supported. If you want string comparison, upgrade to Zabbix 5.0.

Function parameters

Most of numeric functions accept the number of seconds as a parameter.

You may use the prefix # to specify that a parameter has a different meaning:

sum(600) Sum of all values in no more than the latest 600 seconds
sum(#5) Sum of all values in no more than the last 5 values

The function last uses a different meaning for values when prefixed with the hash mark - it makes it choose the n-th previous value, so given the values 3, 7, 2, 6, 5 (from most recent to least recent), last(#2) would return 7 and last(#5) would return 5.

Several functions support an additional, second time_shift parameter. This parameter allows to reference data from a period of time in the past. For example, avg(1h,1d) will return the average value for an hour one day ago.

You can use the supported unit symbols in trigger expressions, for example '5m' (minutes) instead of '300' seconds or '1d' (day) instead of '86400' seconds. '1K' will stand for '1024' bytes.

Numbers with a '+' sign are not supported.


The following operators are supported for triggers (in descending priority of execution):

1 - Unary minus -Unknown → Unknown
2 not Logical NOT not Unknown → Unknown
3 * Multiplication 0 * Unknown → Unknown
(yes, Unknown, not 0 - to not lose
Unknown in arithmetic operations)
1.2 * Unknown → Unknown
/ Division Unknown / 0 → error
Unknown / 1.2 → Unknown
0.0 / Unknown → Unknown
4 + Arithmetical plus 1.2 + Unknown → Unknown
- Arithmetical minus 1.2 - Unknown → Unknown
5 < Less than. The operator is defined as:

A<B ⇔ (A<B-0.000001)
1.2 < Unknown → Unknown
<= Less than or equal to. The operator is defined as:

A<=B ⇔ (A≤B+0.000001)
Unknown <= Unknown → Unknown
> More than. The operator is defined as:

A>B ⇔ (A>B+0.000001)
>= More than or equal to. The operator is defined as:

A>=B ⇔ (A≥B-0.000001)
6 = Is equal. The operator is defined as:

A=B ⇔ (A≥B-0.000001) and (A≤B+0.000001)
<> Not equal. The operator is defined as:

A<>B ⇔ (A<B-0.000001) or (A>B+0.000001)
7 and Logical AND 0 and Unknown → 0
1 and Unknown → Unknown
Unknown and Unknown → Unknown
8 or Logical OR 1 or Unknown → 1
0 or Unknown → Unknown
Unknown or Unknown → Unknown

not, and and or operators are case-sensitive and must be in lowercase. They also must be surrounded by spaces or parentheses.

All operators, except unary - and not, have left-to-right associativity. Unary - and not are non-associative (meaning -(-1) and not (not 1) should be used instead of --1 and not not 1).

Evaluation result:

  • <, <=, >, >=, =, <> operators shall yield '1' in the trigger expression if the specified relation is true and '0' if it is false. If at least one operand is Unknown the result is Unknown;
  • and for known operands shall yield '1' if both of its operands compare unequal to '0'; otherwise, it yields '0'; for unknown operands and yields '0' only if one operand compares equal to '0'; otherwise, it yields 'Unknown';
  • or for known operands shall yield '1' if either of its operands compare unequal to '0'; otherwise, it yields '0'; for unknown operands or yields '1' only if one operand compares unequal to '0'; otherwise, it yields 'Unknown';
  • The result of the logical negation operator not for a known operand is '0' if the value of its operand compares unequal to '0'; '1' if the value of its operand compares equal to '0'. For unknown operand not yields 'Unknown'.

Value caching

Values required for trigger evaluation are cached by Zabbix server. Because of this trigger evaluation causes a higher database load for some time after the server restarts. The value cache is not cleared when item history values are removed (either manually or by housekeeper), so the server will use the cached values until they are older than the time periods defined in trigger functions or server is restarted.

Examples of triggers

Example 1

Processor load is too high on


'[all,avg1]' gives a short name of the monitored parameter. It specifies that the server is '' and the key being monitored is 'system.cpu.load[all,avg1]'. By using the function 'last()', we are referring to the most recent value. Finally, '>5' means that the trigger is in the PROBLEM state whenever the most recent processor load measurement from is greater than 5.

Example 2 is overloaded

{[all,avg1].last()}>5 or {[all,avg1].min(10m)}>2 

The expression is true when either the current processor load is more than 5 or the processor load was more than 2 during last 10 minutes.

Example 3

/etc/passwd has been changed

Use of function diff:


The expression is true when the previous value of checksum of /etc/passwd differs from the most recent one.

Similar expressions could be useful to monitor changes in important files, such as /etc/passwd, /etc/inetd.conf, /kernel, etc.

Example 4

Someone is downloading a large file from the Internet

Use of function min:


The expression is true when number of received bytes on eth0 is more than 100 KB within last 5 minutes.

Example 5

Both nodes of clustered SMTP server are down

Note use of two different hosts in one expression:

{[smtp].last()}=0 and {[smtp].last()}=0

The expression is true when both SMTP servers are down on both and

Example 6

Zabbix agent needs to be upgraded

Use of function str():


The expression is true if Zabbix agent has version beta8 (presumably 1.0beta8).

Example 7

Server is unreachable


The expression is true if host "" is unreachable more than 5 times in the last 30 minutes.

Example 8

No heartbeats within last 3 minutes

Use of function nodata():


To make use of this trigger, 'tick' must be defined as a Zabbix trapper item. The host should periodically send data for this item using zabbix_sender. If no data is received within 180 seconds, the trigger value becomes PROBLEM.

Note that 'nodata' can be used for any item type.

Example 9

CPU activity at night time

Use of function time():

{zabbix:system.cpu.load[all,avg1].min(5m)}>2 and {zabbix:system.cpu.load[all,avg1].time()}>000000 and {zabbix:system.cpu.load[all,avg1].time()}<060000

The trigger may change its state to true only at night time (00:00 - 06:00).

Example 10

CPU activity at any time with exception

Use of function time() and not operator:

       and not ({zabbix:system.cpu.load[all,avg1].dayofweek(0)}=7 and {zabbix:system.cpu.load[all,avg1].time(0)}>230000) 
       and not ({zabbix:system.cpu.load[all,avg1].dayofweek(0)}=1 and {zabbix:system.cpu.load[all,avg1].time(0)}<010000)

The trigger may change its state to true at any time, except for 2 hours on a week change (Sunday, 23:00 - Monday, 01:00).

Example 11

Check if client local time is in sync with Zabbix server time

Use of function fuzzytime():


The trigger will change to the problem state in case when local time on server MySQL_DB and Zabbix server differs by more than 10 seconds. Note that 'system.localtime' must be configured as a passive check.

Example 12

Comparing average load today with average load of the same time yesterday (using a second time_shift parameter).


This expression will fire if the average load of the last hour tops the average load of the same hour yesterday more than two times.

Example 13

Using the value of another item to get a trigger threshold:

{Template PfSense:hrStorageFree[{#SNMPVALUE}].last()}<{Template PfSense:hrStorageSize[{#SNMPVALUE}].last()}*0.1

The trigger will fire if the free storage drops below 10 percent.

Example 14

Using evaluation result to get the number of triggers over a threshold:

({server1:system.cpu.load[all,avg1].last()}>5) + ({server2:system.cpu.load[all,avg1].last()}>5) + ({server3:system.cpu.load[all,avg1].last()}>5)>=2

The trigger will fire if at least two of the triggers in the expression are over 5.


Sometimes an interval is needed between problem and recovery states, rather than a simple threshold. For example, if we want to define a trigger that reports a problem when server room temperature goes above 20°C and we want it to stay in the problem state until the temperature drops below 15°C, a simple trigger threshold at 20°C will not be enough.

Instead, we need to define a trigger expression for the problem event first (temperature above 20°C). Then we need to define an additional recovery condition (temperature below 15°C). This is done by defining an additional Recovery expression parameter when defining a trigger.

In this case, problem recovery will take place in two steps:

  • First, the problem expression (temperature above 20°C) will have to evaluate to FALSE
  • Second, the recovery expression (temperature below 15°C) will have to evaluate to TRUE

The recovery expression will be evaluated only when the problem event is resolved first.

The recovery expression being TRUE alone does not resolve a problem if the problem expression is still TRUE!

Example 1

Temperature in server room is too high.

Problem expression:


Recovery expression:

Example 2

Free disk space is too low.

Problem expression: it is less than 10GB for last 5 minutes


Recovery expression: it is more than 40GB for last 10 minutes


Expressions with unknown operands

Generally an unknown operand (such as an unsupported item) in the expression will immediately render the trigger value to Unknown.

However, in some cases unknown operands (unsupported items, function errors) are admitted into expression evaluation:

  • The nodata() function is evaluated regardless of whether the referenced item is supported or not.
  • Logical expressions with OR and AND can be evaluated to known values in two cases regardless of unknown operands:
    • Case 1: "1 or unsupported_item1.some_function() or unsupported_item2.some_function() or ..." can be evaluated to known result ('1' or "Problem"),
    • Case 2: "0 and unsupported_item1.some_function() and unsupported_item2.some_function() and ..." can be evaluated to known result ('0' or "OK").
      Zabbix tries to evaluate such logical expressions by taking unsupported items as unknown operands. In the two cases above a known value will be produced ("Problem" or "OK", respectively); in all other cases the trigger will evaluate to Unknown.
  • If the function evaluation for a supported item results in error, the function value becomes Unknown and it takes part as unknown operand in further expression evaluation.

Note that unknown operands may "disappear" only in logical expressions as described above. In arithmetic expressions unknown operands always lead to the result Unknown (except division by 0).

An expression that results in Unknown does not change the trigger state ("Problem/OK"). So, if it was "Problem" (see Case 1), it stays in the same problem state even if the known part is resolved ('1' becomes '0'), because the expression is now evaluated to Unknown and that does not change the trigger state.

If a trigger expression with several unsupported items evaluates to Unknown the error message in the frontend refers to the last unsupported item evaluated.