Elasticsearch Elasticsearch Document Size Limit

By Opster Expert Team - May 2023

Updated: May 22, 2023

| 2 min read

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Elasticsearch Document Size Limit: Understanding and Overcoming Limitations

When working with Elasticsearch, it’s essential to be aware of the document size limit and understand how to overcome any limitations that may arise. This article will discuss the default document size limit in Elasticsearch, the reasons behind it, and how to handle larger documents effectively.

Default Document Size Limit in Elasticsearch

What is the default document size limit in Elasticsearch?

Elasticsearch has a default request body size limit of 100 MB. This limit is imposed by the `http.max_content_length` setting, which can be found in the `elasticsearch.yml` configuration file.

The default value for this setting is 100mb and it can be adjusted to accommodate larger documents if necessary. However, this is strongly discouraged and you should strive to make your documents smaller or store some raw data outside of ES (image bytes, etc) and include a link to it within the document.

Reasons for the Document Size Limit

There are several reasons for imposing a document size limit in Elasticsearch:

1. Memory Usage: Large documents can consume significant amounts of memory, especially when indexing or searching. By limiting the document size, Elasticsearch can better manage memory usage and prevent out-of-memory errors.

2. Performance: Indexing and searching large documents can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Smaller documents generally lead to better performance and faster query response times.

3. Network Bandwidth: Transferring large documents across the network can consume substantial bandwidth, leading to slower indexing and search performance.

Handling Larger Documents

If you need to work with documents larger than the default 100 MB limit, there are several strategies you can employ:

1. Increase the Document Size Limit: You can increase the `http.max_content_length` setting in the `elasticsearch.yml` configuration file to accommodate larger documents. However, be cautious when increasing this limit, as it may lead to increased memory usage and performance issues.


http.max_content_length: 200mb

2. Split Documents into Smaller Chunks: If possible, consider breaking larger documents into smaller, more manageable pieces. This can help improve indexing and search performance while keeping memory usage in check.

3. Use Parent-Child Relationships: Instead of storing large documents as single entities, you can use parent-child relationships to break down complex data structures into smaller, more manageable parts. This approach can help improve query performance and make it easier to work with large documents.

4. Optimize Mapping and Index Settings: Properly configuring your index settings and mapping can help reduce the size of your documents. For example, disabling `_source` field storage, using the `keyword` data type instead of `text` for fields that don’t require full-text search, can help save space and reduce document size.


In conclusion, understanding the Elasticsearch document size limit and knowing how to handle larger documents effectively is crucial for maintaining optimal performance and resource usage. By employing the strategies outlined in this article, you can work with large documents while minimizing potential issues.

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