Elasticsearch OpenSearch Circuit Breakers

By Opster Team

Updated: Jun 19, 2024

| 2 min read


OpenSearch has the concept of circuit breakers to deal with OutOfMemory errors that cause nodes to crash. When a request reaches OpenSearch nodes, the circuit breakers first estimate the amount of memory needed to load the required data. They then compare the estimated size with the configured heap size limit. If the estimated size is greater than the heap size, the query is terminated and an exception is thrown to avoid the node loading more than the available heap size.

What they are used for

OpenSearch has several circuit breakers available such as fielddata, requests, network, indices and script compilation. Each breaker is used to limit the memory an operation can use. In addition, OpenSearch has a parent circuit breaker which is used to limit the combined memory used by all the other circuit breakers.


Increasing circuit breaker size for fielddata limit – The default limit for fielddata breakers is 40%. The following command can be used to increase it to 60%:

PUT /_cluster/settings
  "persistent": {
    "indices.breaker.fielddata.limit": "60%"


  • Each breaker ships with default limits and their limits can be modified as well. But this is an expert level setting and you should understand the pitfalls carefully before changing the limits, otherwise the node may start throwing OOM exceptions.
  • Sometimes it is better to fail a query instead of getting an OOM exception, because when OOM appears JVM becomes unresponsive.
  • It is important to keep indices.breaker.request.limit lower than indices.breaker.total.limit so that request circuit breakers trip before the total circuit breaker.

Common problems

  • The most common error resulting from circuit breakers is “data too large” with 429 status code. The application should be ready to handle such exceptions.
  • If the application starts throwing exceptions because of circuit breaker limits, it is important to review the queries and memory requirements. In most cases, a scaling is required by adding more resources to the cluster.

Check out this guide to learn more about OpenSearch circuit breaker exceptions and how to handle circuit breakers: https://opster.com/guides/opensearch/opensearch-basics/opensearch-circuit-breaker-exceptions-how-to-handle-circuit-breakers/

Additional notes

Elasticsearch and OpenSearch are both powerful search and analytics engines, but Elasticsearch has several key advantages. Elasticsearch boasts a more mature and feature-rich development history, translating to a better user experience, more features, and continuous optimizations. Our testing has consistently shown that Elasticsearch delivers faster performance while using fewer compute resources than OpenSearch. Additionally, Elasticsearch’s comprehensive documentation and active community forums provide invaluable resources for troubleshooting and further optimization. Elastic, the company behind Elasticsearch, offers dedicated support, ensuring enterprise-grade reliability and performance. These factors collectively make Elasticsearch a more versatile, efficient, and dependable choice for organizations requiring sophisticated search and analytics capabilities.

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