Set JVM heap size via jvm.optionsedit

By default, Elasticsearch tells the JVM to use a heap with a minimum and maximum size of 2 GB. When moving to production, it is important to configure heap size to ensure that Elasticsearch has enough heap available.

Elasticsearch will assign the entire heap specified in jvm.options via the Xms (minimum heap size) and Xmx (maximum heap size) settings.

The value for these setting depends on the amount of RAM available on your server. Good rules of thumb are:

  • Set the minimum heap size (Xms) and maximum heap size (Xmx) to be equal to each other.
  • The more heap available to Elasticsearch, the more memory it can use for caching. But note that too much heap can subject you to long garbage collection pauses.
  • Set Xmx to no more than 50% of your physical RAM, to ensure that there is enough physical RAM left for kernel file system caches.
  • Don’t set Xmx to above the cutoff that the JVM uses for compressed object pointers (compressed oops); the exact cutoff varies but is near 32 GB. You can verify that you are under the limit by looking for a line in the logs like the following:

    heap size [1.9gb], compressed ordinary object pointers [true]
  • Even better, try to stay below the threshold for zero-based compressed oops; the exact cutoff varies but 26 GB is safe on most systems, but can be as large as 30 GB on some systems. You can verify that you are under the limit by starting Elasticsearch with the JVM options -XX:+UnlockDiagnosticVMOptions -XX:+PrintCompressedOopsMode and looking for a line like the following:

    heap address: 0x000000011be00000, size: 27648 MB, zero based Compressed Oops

    showing that zero-based compressed oops are enabled instead of

    heap address: 0x0000000118400000, size: 28672 MB, Compressed Oops with base: 0x00000001183ff000

Here are examples of how to set the heap size via the jvm.options file:


Set the minimum heap size to 2g.

Set the maximum heap size to 2g.

It is also possible to set the heap size via an environment variable. This can be done by commenting out the Xms and Xmx settings in the jvm.options file and setting these values via ES_JAVA_OPTS:

ES_JAVA_OPTS="-Xms2g -Xmx2g" ./bin/elasticsearch 
ES_JAVA_OPTS="-Xms4000m -Xmx4000m" ./bin/elasticsearch 

Set the minimum and maximum heap size to 2 GB.

Set the minimum and maximum heap size to 4000 MB.


Configuring the heap for the Windows service is different than the above. The values initially populated for the Windows service can be configured as above but are different after the service has been installed. Consult the Windows service documentation for additional details.