Elasticsearch Troubleshooting Failed Elasticsearch Startup Issues

By Opster Team

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

| 3 min read


Elasticsearch is not immune to startup issues. These issues can be caused by various factors, such as configuration errors, insufficient system resources, or incompatible software versions. This article will delve into the common reasons for Elasticsearch startup failures and provide detailed solutions to address them.

Common Reasons for Elasticsearch Startup Failures & How to Resolve Them

1. Insufficient System Resources

One of the most common reasons for Elasticsearch failing to start is insufficient system resources, particularly memory. Elasticsearch requires a certain amount of memory to operate efficiently. If the system does not have enough memory, Elasticsearch may fail to start.

To resolve this issue, you can increase the system’s memory or adjust the Elasticsearch heap size. The heap size should be no more than 50% of your system’s total memory and not exceed 30.5GB. You can adjust the heap size in a custom JVM options file located in the `config/jvm.options.d` directory of your Elasticsearch installation.

# Xms represents the initial size of total heap space
# Xmx represents the maximum size of total heap space


2. Configuration Errors

Configuration errors are another common cause of Elasticsearch startup failures. These errors can occur if the `elasticsearch.yml` configuration file contains incorrect or incompatible settings.

To troubleshoot this issue, check the Elasticsearch log files. The log files, typically located in the `logs` directory of your Elasticsearch installation, contain detailed information about the startup process and any errors that may have occurred.

If you find any errors related to the configuration file in the log files, open the `elasticsearch.yml` file and correct the problematic settings. For example, if the error message indicates an issue with the cluster name, you can correct it as follows:

# Cluster name
cluster.name: my-application

3. Incompatible Software Versions

In recent versions of Elasticsearch, a compatible JVM is bundled into the distribution and can be used safely. However, your business or technical requirements might dictate you to use a specific JVM and you need to ensure that it is compatible with the version of Elasticsearch that you are running, otherwise Elasticsearch may fail to start if it’s incompatible with the version of Java installed on your system. Elasticsearch requires a specific version of the Java Development Kit (JDK) to run. If the installed JDK version is not compatible, Elasticsearch will not start.

To resolve this issue, check the Elasticsearch documentation for the required JDK version. If your system’s JDK version is not compatible, you will need to update or downgrade it.

You can check your system’s JDK version by running the following command in the terminal:

java -version

If the JDK version is not compatible, download and install the required JDK version from the official Oracle website or use a package manager like `apt` for Ubuntu or `yum` for CentOS. 

# Ubuntu
sudo apt-get install openjdk-11-jdk

# CentOS
sudo yum install java-11-openjdk-devel

After installing the required JDK version, you can verify the installation by running the `java -version` command again.

4. Corrupted Elasticsearch Indices

In some cases, Elasticsearch may fail to start due to corrupted indices. This issue can occur due to unexpected shutdowns or hardware failures.

To fix this issue, you can delete the corrupted indices. However, please note that this action will result in data loss. Therefore, it’s recommended to have a backup strategy in place.

You can delete the corrupted indices by navigating to the `data` directory of your Elasticsearch installation and deleting the directories corresponding to the corrupted indices.

# Navigate to the data directory
cd /path/to/elasticsearch/data

# Delete the corrupted index
rm -rf index_name

A safer alternative is to use the `bin/elasticsearch-shard` command-line tool to safely remove corrupted data. This command should only be used by experts and only in cases where you can accept to lose data. After stopping your Elasticsearch cluster, you can use this tool as follows in order to remove the corrupted data from a specific shard of your index:

bin/elasticsearch-shard remove-corrupted-data --index index_name --shard-id 0

It is also possible to provide the absolute path to the corrupted index:

bin/elasticsearch-shard remove-corrupted-data --dir /path/to/data/indices/index_uuid

When running this command, you will be shown information on how many documents are going to be lost and be asked whether you agree to proceed. 


In conclusion, Elasticsearch startup failures can be caused by various factors, including insufficient system resources, configuration errors, incompatible software versions, and corrupted indices. By checking the system resources, verifying the configuration settings, ensuring software compatibility, and managing the indices properly, you can effectively troubleshoot and resolve these issues. 

How helpful was this guide?

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?