Elasticsearch Elasticsearch Long Running Index Task

By Opster Team

Updated: Mar 10, 2024

| 2 min read

What does this mean?

A long running index task in Elasticsearch refers to an indexing operation that is taking an unusually long time to complete. Indexing tasks are responsible for adding, updating, or deleting documents in an Elasticsearch index. When these tasks take longer than expected, it can lead to performance issues and affect the overall stability of the cluster.

Why does this occur?

There could be several reasons behind the occurrence of a long running index task:

  1. High indexing rate: A high rate of indexing operations can cause the cluster to become overwhelmed, leading to longer processing times for individual tasks.
  1. Large documents: Indexing large documents can take more time, especially if the cluster is not optimized for handling them.
  1. Insufficient resources: If the Elasticsearch cluster does not have enough resources (CPU, memory, or disk space), it can struggle to process indexing tasks efficiently.
  1. Poorly optimized mappings or settings: Incorrect or suboptimal index settings and mappings can lead to inefficient indexing operations.

Possible impact and consequences of long running index tasks

The impact of a long running index task can be significant on the cluster performance. Some of the potential consequences include:

  1. Slower search and query performance: As the cluster spends more time processing indexing tasks, it may have less capacity to handle search and query operations.
  1. Increased resource usage: Long running index tasks can consume more resources, leading to higher CPU, memory, and disk usage.
  1. Reduced cluster stability: Prolonged indexing tasks can cause the cluster to become unstable, potentially leading to node failures or other issues.

How to resolve

To resolve the issue of long running index tasks, consider the following recommendations:

1. Identify the long running index tasks: Use one of the following commands to list all indexing tasks currently running in the cluster. Note that the first one is a bit more condensed and tasks are sorted by the longest running tasks first, so it’s easier to spot them:

GET _cat/tasks?v&detailed=true&actions=*write*
GET /_tasks?detailed=true&actions=*write*

2. Cancel the long-running index tasks: Use the following command to cancel the long-running index tasks and improve the cluster stability:

POST /_tasks/<task_id>/_cancel

Replace `<task_id>` with the ID of the long-running index task you want to cancel.

3. Optimize index settings and mappings: Review your index settings and mappings to ensure they are optimized for your use case. This may involve adjusting the number of shards, replicas, or other settings. You can use the free Opster Template Analyzer tool to help you with this.

4. Monitor resource usage: Keep an eye on the resource usage of your Elasticsearch cluster and ensure it has sufficient resources to handle the indexing workload.

5. Scale your cluster: If necessary, consider adding more nodes or increasing the resources available to your existing nodes to better handle the indexing workload.


By understanding the meaning, causes, and impact of long running index tasks in Elasticsearch, you can take appropriate steps to resolve the issue and maintain optimal cluster performance.

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