WARNING: Version 6.1 of Elasticsearch has passed its EOL date.
This documentation is no longer being maintained and may be removed. If you are running this version, we strongly advise you to upgrade. For the latest information, see the current release documentation.
Elasticsearch is designed as a search engine, which makes it very good at getting back the top documents that match a query. However, it is not as good for workloads that fall into the database domain, such as retrieving all documents that match a particular query. If you need to do this, make sure to use the Scroll API.
Given that the default
http.max_context_length is set to
100MB, Elasticsearch will refuse to index any document that is larger than
that. You might decide to increase that particular setting, but Lucene still
has a limit of about 2GB.
Even without considering hard limits, large documents are usually not
practical. Large documents put more stress on network, memory usage and disk,
even for search requests that do not request the
_source since Elasticsearch
needs to fetch the
_id of the document in all cases, and the cost of getting
this field is bigger for large documents due to how the filesystem cache works.
Indexing this document can use an amount of memory that is a multiplier of the
original size of the document. Proximity search (phrase queries for instance)
and highlighting also become more expensive
since their cost directly depends on the size of the original document.
It is sometimes useful to reconsider what the unit of information should be.
For instance, the fact you want to make books searchable doesn’t necesarily
mean that a document should consist of a whole book. It might be a better idea
to use chapters or even paragraphs as documents, and then have a property in
these documents that identifies which book they belong to. This does not only
avoid the issues with large documents, it also makes the search experience
better. For instance if a user searches for two words
bar, a match
across different chapters is probably very poor, while a match within the same
paragraph is likely good.