Force merge APIedit

Forces a merge on the shards of one or more indices. For data streams, the API forces a merge on the shards of the stream’s backing indices.

response = client.indices.forcemerge(
  index: 'my-index-000001'
puts response
POST /my-index-000001/_forcemerge


POST /<target>/_forcemerge

POST /_forcemerge


  • If the Elasticsearch security features are enabled, you must have the maintenance or manage index privilege for the target data stream, index, or alias.


Use the force merge API to force a merge on the shards of one or more indices. Merging reduces the number of segments in each shard by merging some of them together, and also frees up the space used by deleted documents. Merging normally happens automatically, but sometimes it is useful to trigger a merge manually.

We recommend only force merging a read-only index (meaning the index is no longer receiving writes). When documents are updated or deleted, the old version is not immediately removed, but instead soft-deleted and marked with a "tombstone". These soft-deleted documents are automatically cleaned up during regular segment merges. But force merge can cause very large (> 5GB) segments to be produced, which are not eligible for regular merges. So the number of soft-deleted documents can then grow rapidly, resulting in higher disk usage and worse search performance. If you regularly force merge an index receiving writes, this can also make snapshots more expensive, since the new documents can’t be backed up incrementally.

Blocks during a force mergeedit

Calls to this API block until the merge is complete (unless request contains wait_for_completion=false, which is default true). If the client connection is lost before completion then the force merge process will continue in the background. Any new requests to force merge the same indices will also block until the ongoing force merge is complete.

Running force merge asynchronouslyedit

If the request contains wait_for_completion=false, Elasticsearch performs some preflight checks, launches the request, and returns a task you can use to get the status of the task. However, you can not cancel this task as the force merge task is not cancelable. Elasticsearch creates a record of this task as a document at _tasks/<task_id>. When you are done with a task, you should delete the task document so Elasticsearch can reclaim the space.

Force merging multiple indicesedit

You can force merge multiple indices with a single request by targeting:

  • One or more data streams that contain multiple backing indices
  • Multiple indices
  • One or more aliases
  • All data streams and indices in a cluster

Each targeted shard is force-merged separately using the force_merge threadpool. By default each node only has a single force_merge thread which means that the shards on that node are force-merged one at a time. If you expand the force_merge threadpool on a node then it will force merge its shards in parallel.

Force merge makes the storage for the shard being merged temporarily increase, up to double its size in case max_num_segments parameter is set to 1, as all segments need to be rewritten into a new one.

Path parametersedit

(Optional, string) Comma-separated list of data streams, indices, and aliases used to limit the request. Supports wildcards (*). To target all data streams and indices, omit this parameter or use * or _all.

Query parametersedit


(Optional, Boolean) If false, the request returns an error if any wildcard expression, index alias, or _all value targets only missing or closed indices. This behavior applies even if the request targets other open indices. For example, a request targeting foo*,bar* returns an error if an index starts with foo but no index starts with bar.

Defaults to true.


(Optional, string) Type of index that wildcard patterns can match. If the request can target data streams, this argument determines whether wildcard expressions match hidden data streams. Supports comma-separated values, such as open,hidden. Valid values are:

Match any data stream or index, including hidden ones.
Match open, non-hidden indices. Also matches any non-hidden data stream.
Match closed, non-hidden indices. Also matches any non-hidden data stream. Data streams cannot be closed.
Match hidden data streams and hidden indices. Must be combined with open, closed, or both.
Wildcard patterns are not accepted.

Defaults to open.

(Optional, Boolean) If true, Elasticsearch performs a flush on the indices after the force merge. Defaults to true.
(Optional, Boolean) If false, the request returns an error if it targets a missing or closed index. Defaults to false.

(Optional, integer) The number of segments to merge to. To fully merge indices, set it to 1.

Defaults to checking if a merge needs to execute. If so, executes it.

You can’t specify this parameter and only_expunge_deletes in the same request.


(Optional, Boolean) If true, expunge all segments containing more than index.merge.policy.expunge_deletes_allowed (default to 10) percents of deleted documents. Defaults to false.

In Lucene, a document is not deleted from a segment; just marked as deleted. During a merge, a new segment is created that does not contain those document deletions.

You can’t specify this parameter and max_num_segments in the same request.


(Optional, Boolean) If true, the request blocks until the operation is complete. Defaults to true.


Force merge a specific data stream or indexedit

response = client.indices.forcemerge(
  index: 'my-index-000001'
puts response
POST /my-index-000001/_forcemerge

Force merge several data streams or indicesedit

response = client.indices.forcemerge(
  index: 'my-index-000001,my-index-000002'
puts response
POST /my-index-000001,my-index-000002/_forcemerge

Force merge all indicesedit

response = client.indices.forcemerge
puts response
POST /_forcemerge

Data streams and time-based indicesedit

Force-merging is useful for managing a data stream’s older backing indices and other time-based indices, particularly after a rollover. In these cases, each index only receives indexing traffic for a certain period of time. Once an index receive no more writes, its shards can be force-merged to a single segment.

response = client.indices.forcemerge(
  index: '.ds-my-data-stream-2099.03.07-000001',
  max_num_segments: 1
puts response
POST /.ds-my-data-stream-2099.03.07-000001/_forcemerge?max_num_segments=1

This can be a good idea because single-segment shards can sometimes use simpler and more efficient data structures to perform searches.