ok if i look at the "top" processes, its practically empty. yet load shoots up to 5-12, sometimes higher. barely anything going on on the server-- in fact abotu 2 days ago there was a complete outage due to a faulty cpanel update that corrupted my dns... so basically the server was serving absolutely nothing, yet my load was at like 3-5 the entire period.
your best bet-- do you think this has something to do with the node, or my specific VPS?
as the title suggests, what is "user" and "system" in top?
From the vmstat man page:
These are percentages of total CPU time.
us: Time spent running non-kernel code. (user time, including nice time)
sy: Time spent running kernel code. (system time)
id: Time spent idle. Prior to Linux 2.5.41, this includes IO-wait time.
wa: Time spent waiting for IO. Prior to Linux 2.5.41, shown as zero.
"user" -> CPU time running code in user-space
"sys" -> CPU time running code in kernel space