File Descriptors and MMapedit

Lucene uses a very large number of files. At the same time, Elasticsearch uses a large number of sockets to communicate between nodes and HTTP clients. All of this requires available file descriptors.

Sadly, many modern Linux distributions ship with a paltry 1,024 file descriptors allowed per process. This is far too low for even a small Elasticsearch node, let alone one that is handling hundreds of indices.

You should increase your file descriptor count to something very large, such as 64,000. This process is irritatingly difficult and highly dependent on your particular OS and distribution. Consult the documentation for your OS to determine how best to change the allowed file descriptor count.

Once you think you’ve changed it, check Elasticsearch to make sure it really does have enough file descriptors:

  "cluster_name": "elasticsearch",
  "nodes": {
    "nLd81iLsRcqmah-cuHAbaQ": {
      "timestamp": 1471516160318,
      "name": "Marsha Rosenberg",
      "transport_address": "",
      "host": "",
      "ip": [
      "process": {
        "timestamp": 1471516160318,
        "open_file_descriptors": 155,
        "max_file_descriptors": 10240, 
        "cpu": {
          "percent": 0,
          "total_in_millis": 25084
        "mem": {
          "total_virtual_in_bytes": 5221900288

The max_file_descriptors field shows the number of available descriptors that the Elasticsearch process can access.

Elasticsearch also uses a mix of NioFS and MMapFS for the various files. Ensure that you configure the maximum map count so that there is ample virtual memory available for mmapped files. This can be set temporarily:

sysctl -w vm.max_map_count=262144

Or you can set it permanently by modifying vm.max_map_count setting in your /etc/sysctl.conf.