Not primary; can’t move to replica – How to solve this Elasticsearch error

Opster Team

March-22, Version: 1.7-8.0

Before you begin reading this guide, we recommend you try running the Elasticsearch Error Check-Up which analyzes 2 JSON files to detect many configuration errors.

To easily locate the root cause and resolve this issue try AutoOps for Elasticsearch & OpenSearch. It diagnoses problems by analyzing hundreds of metrics collected by a lightweight agent and offers guidance for resolving them.

This guide will help you check for common problems that cause the log ” Not primary; can’t move to replica ” to appear. To understand the issues related to this log, read the explanation below about the following Elasticsearch concepts: cluster, routing.

Log Context

Log “Not primary; can’t move to replica”classname  is We extracted the following from Elasticsearch source code for those seeking an in-depth context :

* @throws IllegalShardRoutingStateException if shard is already a replica
 public ShardRouting moveUnassignedFromPrimary() {
 assert state == ShardRoutingState.UNASSIGNED : "expected an unassigned shard " + this;
 if (primary == false) {
 throw new IllegalShardRoutingStateException(this; "Not primary; can't move to replica");
 return new ShardRouting(


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