Configuring Elasticsearchedit

Elasticsearch ships with good defaults and requires very little configuration. Most settings can be changed on a running cluster using the Cluster update settings API.

The configuration files should contain settings which are node-specific (such as and paths), or settings which a node requires in order to be able to join a cluster, such as and

Config files locationedit

Elasticsearch has three configuration files:

  • elasticsearch.yml for configuring Elasticsearch
  • jvm.options for configuring Elasticsearch JVM settings
  • for configuring Elasticsearch logging

These files are located in the config directory, whose default location depends on whether or not the installation is from an archive distribution (tar.gz or zip) or a package distribution (Debian or RPM packages).

For the archive distributions, the config directory location defaults to $ES_HOME/config. The location of the config directory can be changed via the ES_PATH_CONF environment variable as follows:

ES_PATH_CONF=/path/to/my/config ./bin/elasticsearch

Alternatively, you can export the ES_PATH_CONF environment variable via the command line or via your shell profile.

For the package distributions, the config directory location defaults to /etc/elasticsearch. The location of the config directory can also be changed via the ES_PATH_CONF environment variable, but note that setting this in your shell is not sufficient. Instead, this variable is sourced from /etc/default/elasticsearch (for the Debian package) and /etc/sysconfig/elasticsearch (for the RPM package). You will need to edit the ES_PATH_CONF=/etc/elasticsearch entry in one of these files accordingly to change the config directory location.

Config file formatedit

The configuration format is YAML. Here is an example of changing the path of the data and logs directories:

    data: /var/lib/elasticsearch
    logs: /var/log/elasticsearch

Settings can also be flattened as follows: /var/lib/elasticsearch
path.logs: /var/log/elasticsearch

In YAML, you can format non-scalar values as sequences:


Though less common, you can also format non-scalar values as arrays:

discovery.seed_hosts: ["", "", ""]

Environment variable substitutionedit

Environment variables referenced with the ${...} notation within the configuration file will be replaced with the value of the environment variable. For example:    ${HOSTNAME} ${ES_NETWORK_HOST}

Values for environment variables must be simple strings. Use a comma-separated string to provide values that Elasticsearch will parse as a list. For example, Elasticsearch will split the following string into a list of values for the ${HOSTNAME} environment variable:

export HOSTNAME="host1,host2"

Cluster and node setting typesedit

Cluster and node settings can be categorized based on how they are configured:


You can configure and update dynamic settings on a running cluster using the cluster update settings API. You can also configure dynamic settings locally on an unstarted or shut down node using elasticsearch.yml.

Updates made using the cluster update settings API can be persistent, which apply across cluster restarts, or transient, which reset after a cluster restart. You can also reset transient or persistent settings by assigning them a null value using the API.

If you configure the same setting using multiple methods, Elasticsearch applies the settings in following order of precedence:

  1. Transient setting
  2. Persistent setting
  3. elasticsearch.yml setting
  4. Default setting value

For example, you can apply a transient setting to override a persistent setting or elasticsearch.yml setting. However, a change to an elasticsearch.yml setting will not override a defined transient or persistent setting.

If you use Elasticsearch Service, use the user settings feature to configure all cluster settings. This method lets Elasticsearch Service automatically reject unsafe settings that could break your cluster.

If you run Elasticsearch on your own hardware, use the cluster update settings API to configure dynamic cluster settings. Only use elasticsearch.yml for static cluster settings and node settings. The API doesn’t require a restart and ensures a setting’s value is the same on all nodes.

We no longer recommend using transient cluster settings. Use persistent cluster settings instead. If a cluster becomes unstable, transient settings can clear unexpectedly, resulting in a potentially undesired cluster configuration. See the Transient settings migration guide.


Static settings can only be configured on an unstarted or shut down node using elasticsearch.yml.

Static settings must be set on every relevant node in the cluster.