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Searching documents

We use HTTP requests to talk to ElasticSearch. A HTTP request is made up of several components such as the URL to make the request to, HTTP verbs (GET, POST etc) and headers. In order to succinctly and consistently describe HTTP requests the ElasticSearch documentation uses cURL command line syntax. This is also the standard practice to describe requests made to ElasticSearch within the user community.

Get all documents

An example HTTP request using CURL syntax looks like this:

curl \
    -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
    -XPOST "https://localhost:9200/_search" \
    -d' { "query": { "match_all": {} }}'

Get documents that match a string

curl \
    -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
    -XPOST "https://localhost:9200/_search" \
    -d' { "query": { "query_string": {"query": "test company"} }}'


It's better to use the curator tool

If you see the next error it's probably because you misspelled the name of the repository:

  "error": {
    "root_cause": [
        "type": "repository_missing_exception",
        "reason": "[your_repository] missing"
    "type": "repository_missing_exception",
    "reason": "[your_repository] missing"
  "status": 404

Create snapshot

curl {{ url }}/_snapshot/{{ backup_path }}/{{ snapshot_name }}?wait_for_completion=true

Create snapshot of selected indices

curl {{ url }}/_snapshot/{{ backup_path }}/{{ snapshot_name }}?wait_for_completion=true

curl -XPUT 'localhost:9200/_snapshot/my_backup/snapshot_1?pretty' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d'
    "indices": "index_1,index_2",
    "ignore_unavailable": true,
    "include_global_state": false

List all backups

Check for my-snapshot-repo

curl {{ url }}/_snapshot/{{ backup_path }}/_all?pretty

Check if htere are snapshots stuck in process or deletion

curl {{ url }}/_snapshot/_status
curl {{ url }}/_cluster/state?filter_path=*snapshot*

Restore backup

First you need to close the selected indices

curl -X POST {{ url }}/{{ indice_name }}/_close

Then restore

curl {{ url }}/_snapshot/{{ backup_path }}/{{ snapshot_name }}/_restore?wait_for_completion=true

If you want to restore only one index, use:

curl -X POST "{{ url }}/_snapshot/{{ backup_path }}/{{ snapshot_name }}/_restore?pretty" -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d'
    "indices": "{{ index_to_restore }}",

Delete snapshot

curl -XDELETE {{ url }}/_snapshot/{{ backup_path }}/{{ snapshot_name }}

Delete snapshot repository

curl -XDELETE {{ url }}/_snapshot/{{ backup_path }}

Delete snapshots older than X

!!! note "File: curator.yml" ```yaml client: hosts: - 'a data node' port: 9200 url_prefix: use_ssl: False certificate: client_cert: client_key: ssl_no_validate: False http_auth: timeout: 30 master_only: False

loglevel: INFO
logfile: D:\CuratorLogs\logs.txt
logformat: default
blacklist: ['elasticsearch', 'urllib3']

File: delete_old_snapshots.yml

yaml actions: 1: action: delete_snapshots description: >- Delete snapshots from the selected repository older than 100 days (based on creation_date), for everything but 'citydirectory-' prefixed snapshots. options: repository: 'dcs-elastic-snapshot' disable_action: False filters: - filtertype: pattern kind: prefix value: citydirectory- exclude: True - filtertype: age source: creation_date direction: older unit: days unit_count: 100

Information gathering

Get status of cluster

curl {{ url }}/_cluster/health?pretty
curl {{ url }}/_cat/nodes?v
curl {{ url }}/_cat/indices?v
curl {{ url }}/_cat/shards

If you've got red status, use the following command to choose the first unassigned shard that it finds and explains why it cannot be allocated to a node.

curl {{ url }}/_cluster/allocation/explain?v

Get settings

curl {{ url }}/_settings

Get space left

curl {{ url }}/_nodes/stats/fs?pretty

List plugins

curl {{ url }}/_nodes/plugins?pretty


Single data upload

curl -XPOST '{{ url }}/{{ path_to_table }}' -d '{{ json_input }}'

where json_input can be { "field" : "value" }

Bulk upload of data

curl -H 'Content-Type: application/x-ndjson' -XPOST \
    '{{ url }}/{{ path_to_table }}/_bulk?pretty' --data-binary @{{ json_file }}


Delete data

curl -XDELETE {{ url }}/{{ path_to_ddbb }}

Reindex an index

If you encountered errors while reindexing source_index to destination_index it can be because the cluster hit a timeout on the scroll locks. As a work around, you can increase the timeout period to a reasonable value and then reindex. The default AWS values are search context of 5 minutes, socket timeout of 30 seconds, and batch size of 1,000.

First clear the cache of the index with:

curl -X POST https://elastic.url/destination_index/_cache/clear

If the index is big, they suggest to disable replicas in your destination index by setting number_of_replicas to 0 and re-enable them once the reindex process is complete.

To get the current state use:

curl https://elastic.url/destination_index/_settings

Then disable the replicas with:

curl -X PUT \
    https://elastic.url/destination_index \
    -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
    -d '{"settings": {"refresh_interval": -1, "number_of_replicas": 0}}

Now you can reindex the index with:

curl -X POST \
    https://elastic.url/_reindex?wait_for_completion=false\&timeout=10m\&scroll=10h\&pretty=true \
    -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
    -d '{"source": { "remote": { "host": "https://elastic.url:443", "socket_timeout": "60m" }, "index": "source_index" }, "dest": {"index": "destination_index"}}'

And check the evolution of the task with:

curl 'https://elastic.url/_tasks?detailed=true&actions=*reindex&group_by=parents&pretty=true'

The output is quite verbose, so I use vimdiff to see the differences between instant states.

If you see there are no tasks running, check the indices status to see if the reindex ended well.

curl https://elastic.url/_cat/indices

After the reindex process is complete, you can reset your desired replica count and remove the refresh interval setting.


KNN sizing

Typically, in an Elasticsearch cluster, a certain portion of RAM is set aside for the JVM heap. The k-NN plugin allocates graphs to a portion of the remaining RAM. This portion’s size is determined by the circuit_breaker_limit cluster setting. By default, the circuit breaker limit is set at 50%.

The memory required for graphs is estimated to be `1.1 * (4 * dimension

  • 8 * M)` bytes/vector.

To get the dimension and m use the /index elasticsearch endpoint. To get the number of vectors, use /index/_count. The number of vectors is the same as the number of documents.

As an example, assume that we have 1 Million vectors with a dimension of 256 and M of 16, and the memory required can be estimated as:

1.1 * (4 *256 + 8 * 16) * 1,000,000 ~= 1.26 GB

!!! note "Remember that having a replica will double the total number of vectors."

I've seen some queries work with indices that required 120% of the available memory for the KNN.

A good way to see if it fits, is warming up the knn vectors. If the process returns a timeout, you probably don't have enough memory.

KNN warmup

The Hierarchical Navigable Small World (HNSW) graphs that are used to perform an approximate k-Nearest Neighbor (k-NN) search are stored as .hnsw files with other Apache Lucene segment files. In order for you to perform a search on these graphs using the k-NN plugin, these files need to be loaded into native memory.

If the plugin has not loaded the graphs into native memory, it loads them when it receives a search request. This loading time can cause high latency during initial queries. To avoid this situation, users often run random queries during a warmup period. After this warmup period, the graphs are loaded into native memory and their production workloads can begin. This loading process is indirect and requires extra effort.

As an alternative, you can avoid this latency issue by running the k-NN plugin warmup API operation on whatever indices you’re interested in searching. This operation loads all the graphs for all of the shards (primaries and replicas) of all the indices specified in the request into native memory.

After the process finishes, you can start searching against the indices with no initial latency penalties. The warmup API operation is idempotent, so if a segment’s graphs are already loaded into memory, this operation has no impact on those graphs. It only loads graphs that aren’t currently in memory.

This request performs a warmup on three indices:

GET /_opendistro/_knn/warmup/index1,index2,index3?pretty
  "_shards" : {
    "total" : 6,
    "successful" : 6,
    "failed" : 0

total indicates how many shards the k-NN plugin attempted to warm up. The response also includes the number of shards the plugin succeeded and failed to warm up.

The call does not return until the warmup operation is complete or the request times out. If the request times out, the operation still continues on the cluster. To monitor the warmup operation, use the Elasticsearch _tasks API:

GET /_tasks


Deal with the AWS service timeout

AWS' Elasticsearch service is exposed behind a load balancer that returns a timeout after 300 seconds. If the query you're sending takes longer you won't be able to retrieve the information.

You can consider using Asynchronous search which requires Elasticsearch 7.10 or later. Asynchronous search lets you run search requests that run in the background. You can monitor the progress of these searches and get back partial results as they become available. After the search finishes, you can save the results to examine at a later time.

If the query you're running is a KNN one, you can try:

  • Using the knn warmup api before running initial queries.

  • Scaling up the instances: Amazon ES uses half of an instance's RAM for the Java heap (up to a heap size of 32 GiB). By default, KNN uses up to 50% of the remaining half, so an instance type with 64 GiB of RAM can accommodate 16 GiB of graphs (64 * 0.5 * 0.5). Performance can suffer if graph memory usage exceeds this value.

  • In a less recommended approach, you can make more percentage of memory available for KNN operations.

Open Distro for Elasticsearch lets you modify all KNN settings using the _cluster/settings API. On Amazon ES, you can change all settings except knn.memory.circuit_breaker.enabled and knn.circuit_breaker.triggered.

You can change the circuit breaker settings as:

PUT /_cluster/settings
  "persistent" : {
    "knn.memory.circuit_breaker.limit" : "<value%>"

You could also do performance tuning your KNN request.

Fix Circuit breakers triggers

The elasticsearch_exporter has a elasticsearch_breakers_tripped metric, which counts then number of Circuit Breakers triggered of the different kinds. The Grafana dashboard paints a count of all the triggers with a big red number, which may scare you at first.

Lets first understand what are Circuit Breakers. Elasticsearch is built with Java and as such depends on the JVM heap for many operations and caching purposes. By default in AWS, each data node is assigned half the RAM to be used for heap for ES. In Elasticsearch the default Garbage Collector is Concurrent-Mark and Sweep (CMS). When the JVM Memory Pressure reaches 75%, this collector pauses some threads and attempts to reclaim some heap space. High heap usage occurs when the garbage collection process cannot keep up. An indicator of high heap usage is when the garbage collection is incapable of reducing the heap usage to around 30%.

When a request reaches the ES nodes, circuit breakers estimate the amount of memory needed to load the required data. The cluster then compares the estimated size with the configured heap size limit. If the estimated size of your data is greater than the available heap size, the query is terminated. As a result, a CircuitBreakerException is thrown to prevent overloading the node.

In essence, these breakers are present to prevent a request overloading a data node and consuming more heap space than that node can provide at that time. If these breakers weren't present, then the request will use up all the heap that the node can provide and this node will then restart due to OOM.

Lets assume a data node has 16GB heap configured, When the parent circuit breaker is tripped, then a similar error is thrown:

"error": {
        "root_cause": [
                "type": "circuit_breaking_exception",
                "reason": "[parent] Data too large, data for [<HTTP_request>] would be [16355096754/15.2gb], which is larger than the limit of [16213167308/15gb], real usage: [15283269136/14.2gb], new bytes reserved: [1071827618/1022.1mb]",

The parent circuit breaker (a circuit breaker type) is responsible for the overall memory usage of your Elasticsearch cluster. When a parent circuit breaker exception occurs, the total memory used across all circuit breakers has exceeded the set limit. A parent breaker throws an exception when the cluster exceeds 95% of 16 GB, which is 15.2 GB of heap (in above example).

A circuit breaking exception is generally caused by high JVM. When the JVM Memory Pressure is high, it indicates that a large portion of one or more data nodes configured heap is currently being used heavily, and as such, the frequency of the circuit breakers being tripped increases as there is not enough heap available at the time to process concurrent smaller or larger requests.

It is worth noting that that the error can also be thrown by a certain request that would just consume all the available heap on a certain data node at the time such as an intensive search query.

If you see numerous spikes to the high 90%, with occasionally spikes to 100%, it's not uncommon for the parent circuit breaker to be tripped in response to requests.

To troubleshoot circuit breakers, you'll then have to address the High JVM issues, which can be caused by:

  • Increase in the number of requests to the cluster. Check the IndexRate and SearchRate metrics in to determine your current load.
  • Aggregation, wildcards, and using wide time ranges in your queries.
  • Unbalanced shard allocation across nodes or too many shards in a cluster.
  • Index mapping explosions.
  • Using the fielddata data structure to query data. Fielddata can consume a large amount of heap space, and remains in the heap for the lifetime of a segment. As a result, JVM memory pressure remains high on the cluster when fielddata is used.

Here's what happens as JVM memory pressure increases in AWS:

  • At 75%: Amazon ES triggers the Concurrent Mark Sweep (CMS) garbage collector. The CMS collector runs alongside other processes to keep pauses and disruptions to a minimum. The garbage collection is a CPU-intensive process. If JVM memory pressure stays at this percentage for a few minutes, then you could encounter ClusterBlockException, JVM OutOfMemoryError, or other cluster performance issues.
  • Above 75%: If the CMS collector fails to reclaim enough memory and usage remains above 75%, Amazon ES triggers a different garbage collection algorithm. This algorithm tries to free up memory and prevent a JVM OutOfMemoryError (OOM) exception by slowing or stopping processes.
  • Above 92% for 30 minutes: Amazon ES blocks all write operations.
  • Around 95%: Amazon ES kills processes that try to allocate memory. If a critical process is killed, one or more cluster nodes might fail.
  • At 100%: Amazon ES JVM is configured to exit and eventually restarts on OutOfMemory (OOM).

To resolve high JVM memory pressure, try the following tips:

  • Reduce incoming traffic to your cluster, especially if you have a heavy workload.

  • Consider scaling the cluster to obtain more JVM memory to support your workload. As mentioned above each data node gets half the RAM allocated to be used as Heap. Consider scaling to a data node type with more RAM and hence more Available Heap. Thereby increasing the parent circuit breaker limit.

  • If cluster scaling isn't possible, try reducing the number of shards by deleting old or unused indices. Because shard metadata is stored in memory, reducing the number of shards can reduce overall memory usage.

  • Enable slow logs to identify faulty requests. Note: Before enabling configuration changes, verify that JVM memory pressure is below 85%. This way, you can avoid additional overhead to existing resources.

  • Optimize search and indexing requests, and choose the correct number of shards.

  • Disable and avoid using fielddata. By default, fielddata is set to "false" on a text field unless it's explicitly defined as otherwise in index mappings.

Field data is a potentially a huge consumer of JVM Heap space. This build up of field data occurs when aggregations are run on fields that are of type text. More on how you can periodically clear field data below.

  • Change your index mapping type to a keyword, using reindex API. You can use the keyword type as an alternative for performing aggregations and sorting on text fields.

As mentioned in above point, by aggregating on keyword type instead of text, no field data has to be built on demand and hence won't consume precious heap space. Look into the commonly aggregated fields in index mappings and ensure they are not of type text.

If they are, you can consider changing them to keyword. You will have to create a new index with the desired mapping and then use the Reindex API to transfer over the documents from the source index to the new index. Once Re-index has completed then you can delete the old index.

  • Avoid aggregating on text fields to prevent increases in field data. When you use more field data, more heap space is consumed. Use the cluster stats API operation to check your field data.

  • Clear the fielddata cache with the following API call:

POST /index_name/_cache/clear?fielddata=true (index-level cache)
POST */_cache/clear?fielddata=true (cluster-level cache)

Generally speaking, if you notice your workload (search rate and index rate) remaining consistent during these high spikes and non of the above optimizations can be applied or if they have already been applied and the JVM is still high during these workload times, then it is an indication that the cluster needs to be scaled in terms of JVM resources to cope with this workload.

You can't reset the 'tripped' count. This is a Node level metric and thus will be reset to 0 when the Elasticsearch Service is restarted on that Node. Since in AWS it's a managed service, unfortunately you will not have access to the underlaying EC2 instance to restart the ES Process.

However the ES Process can be restarted on your end (on all nodes) in the following ways:

  • Initiate a Configuration Change that causes a blue/green deployment : When you initiate a configuration change, a subsequent blue/green deployment process is launched in which we launch a new fleet that matches the desired configuration. The old fleet continues to run and serve requests. Simultaneously, data in the form of shards are then migrated from the old fleet to the new fleet. Once all this data has been migrated the old fleet is terminated and the new one takes over.

During this process ES is restarted on the Nodes.

Ensure that CPU Utilization and JVM Memory Pressure are below the recommended 80% thresholds to prevent any issues with this process as it uses clusters resources to initiate and complete.

You can scale the EBS Volumes attached to the data nodes by an arbitrary amount such as 1GB, wait for the blue/green to complete and then scale it back.

  • Wait for a new service software release and update the service software of the Cluster.

This will also cause a blue/green and hence ES process will be restarted on the nodes.

Recover from yellow state

A yellow cluster represents that some of the replica shards in the cluster are unassigned. I can see that around 14 replica shards are unassigned.

You can confirm the state of the cluster with the following commands

curl <domain-endpoint>_cluster/health?pretty
curl -X GET <domain-endpoint>/_cat/shards | grep UNASSIGNED
curl -X GET <domain-endpoint>/_cat/indices | grep yellow

If you have metrics of the JVMMemoryPressure of the nodes, check if the memory of a node reached 100% around the time the cluster reached yellow state.

One can generally confirm the reason for a cluster going yellow by looking at the output of the following API call:

curl -X GET <domain-endpoint>/_cluster/allocation/explain | jq

If it shows a CircuitBreakerException, it confirms that a spike in the JVM metric caused the node to go down. Check the Fix Circuit breaker triggers section above to see how to solve that case.

Reallocate unassigned shards

Elasticsearch makes 5 attempts to assign the shard but if it fails to be assigned after 5 attempts, the shards will remain unassigned. There is a solution to this issue in order to bring the cluster to green state.

You can disable the replicas on the failing index and then enable replicas back.

  • Disable Replica
curl -X PUT "<ES_endpoint>/<index_name>/_settings" -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d'
    "index" : {
        "number_of_replicas" : 0
  • Enable the Replica back:
curl -X PUT "<ES_endpoint>/<index_name>/_settings" -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d'
    "index" : {
        "number_of_replicas" : 1

Please note that it will take some time for the shards to be completely assigned and hence you might see intermittent cluster status as YELLOW.