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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:



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

A complete list of supported functions is available.

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 within 600 seconds
sum(#5) Sum of 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.


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 status to true, only at night (00:00-06:00) time.

Example 10

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.

Example 11

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 12

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 13

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 we need an interval between an OK and Problem states, rather than a simple threshold. For example, we would like to define a trigger which becomes Problem when server room temperature goes above 20C and we want it to stay in that state until the temperature drops below 15C.

In order to do this, we first define the trigger expression for the problem event. Then select 'Recovery expression' for OK event generation and enter a recovery expression for the OK event.

Note that the recovery expression will be evaluated only when the problem event is resolved first. It is not possible to resolve a problem by recovery expression if the problem condition still persists.

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 unsupported items and unknown values

Versions before Zabbix 3.2 are very strict about unsupported items in a trigger expression. Any unsupported item in the expression immediately renders trigger value to Unknown.

Since Zabbix 3.2 there is a more flexible approach to unsupported items by admitting unknown values into expression evaluation:

  • For some functions their values are not affected by whether an item is supported or unsupported. Such functions are now evaluated even if they refer to unsupported items. See the list in functions and unsupported items.
  • Logical expressions with OR and AND can be evaluated to known values in two cases regardless of unknown operands:
    • "1 or Unsuported_item1.some_function() or Unsuported_item2.some_function() or ..." can be evaluated to '1' (True),
    • "0 and Unsuported_item1.some_function() and Unsuported_item2.some_function() and ..." can be evaluated to '0' (False).
      Zabbix tries to evaluate logical expressions taking unsupported items as Unknown values. In the two cases mentioned above a known value will be produced; in other cases trigger value will be Unknown.
  • If a function evaluation for supported item results in error, the function value is Unknown and it takes part in further expression evaluation.

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

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