Unable to start GCE discovery service – How to solve this Elasticsearch error

Opster Team

Aug-23, Version: 6.8-8.9

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Briefly, this error occurs when Elasticsearch fails to initialize the Google Compute Engine (GCE) discovery service, which is used for node discovery in a cluster. This could be due to incorrect configuration settings, missing GCE credentials, or network connectivity issues. To resolve this, ensure that the GCE discovery plugin is correctly installed and configured, the necessary GCE credentials are provided, and the Elasticsearch nodes can communicate with the GCE API. Also, check the Elasticsearch logs for more detailed error messages that can help pinpoint the exact issue.

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This guide will help you check for common problems that cause the log ” unable to start GCE discovery service ” to appear. To understand the issues related to this log, read the explanation below about the following Elasticsearch concepts: plugins, discovery-gce, discovery.

Log Context

Log “unable to start GCE discovery service” classname is GceInstancesServiceImpl.java.
We extracted the following from Elasticsearch source code for those seeking an in-depth context :


            this.client = builder.build();
        } catch (Exception e) {
            logger.warn("unable to start GCE discovery service"; e);
            throw new IllegalArgumentException("unable to start GCE discovery service"; e);

        return this.client;


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