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ESP Insights: A remote diagnostics/observability framework for connected devices


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ESP Insights (Beta)

ESP Insights is a remote diagnostics solution that allows users to remotely monitor the health of ESP devices in the field.


Developers normally prefer debugging issues by physically probing them using gdb or observing the logs. This surely helps debug issues, but there are often cases wherein issues are seen only in specific environments under specific conditions. Even things like casings and placement of the product can affect the behaviour. A few examples are

  • Wi-Fi disconnections for a smart switch concealed in a wall.
  • Smart speakers crashing during some specific usage pattern.
  • Appliance frequently rebooting due to power supply issues.

Having remote diagnostics facility helps in identifying such issues faster. ESP Insights includes a firmware agent (the Insights agent) that captures some of the vital pieces of diagnostics information from the device during runtime and uploads them to the ESP Insights cloud. The cloud then processes this data for easy visualisation. Developers can log in to a web-based dashboard to look at the health and issues reported by their devices in the field. A sample screen is shown here.

Insights Overview

Developers can monitor the following information from the web-based dashboard:

  • Error logs: Anything that is logged on console with calls with ESP_LOGE by any component in the firmware
  • Warning logs: Anything that is logged on console with calls with ESP_LOGW by any component in the firmware
  • Custom Events: Application specific custom events that the firmware wishes to track via calls to ESP_DIAG_EVENT
  • Reset reason: The reason why the device was reset (power on, watchdog, brownout, etc.)
  • Coredump summary: In case of a crash, the register contents as well as the stack backtrace of the offending thread (wherever possible)
  • Metrics: Time-varying data like the free heap size, the Wi-Fi signal strength that is plotted over a period of time
  • Variables: Variable values like the IP Address or state variables that report their current value
  • Group analytics: Insights into how group of devices are performing

All of this information should help the developer understand better how their device is performing in the field.

You can find more details on Insights Features page.

ESP Insights currently works with the ESP Insights cloud and ESP RainMaker cloud. Support for other cloud services will be available in a subsequent release.

Getting Started

Following code should get you started, and your application can start reporting ESP Insights data to the Insights cloud.

Enabling ESP-Insights

By default, ESP-Insights is disabled. User need to enable it via menuconfig option. (Component config → ESP Insights)

To select transport to be used, please follow next step.

Enabling Insights with HTTPS

For Insights agent HTTPS is configure as the default transport.

#include <esp_insights.h>
#define ESP_INSIGHTS_AUTH_KEY "<Paste-Auth-Key-Here>"

    esp_insights_config_t config  = {
        .log_type = ESP_DIAG_LOG_TYPE_ERROR,
        .auth_key = ESP_INSIGHTS_AUTH_KEY,


    /* Rest of the application initialization */

As you may have noticed, all you will need is the unique ESP_INSIGHTS_AUTH_KEY to be embedded in your firmware. Here is how you can obtain the ESP Insights Auth Key:

Enabling Insights with MQTT

Configure the default insights transport to MQTT (Component config → ESP Insights → Insights default transport → MQTT). Alternatively, you can add CONFIG_ESP_INSIGHTS_TRANSPORT_MQTT=y to sdkconfig.defaults.

#include <esp_insights.h>

    esp_insights_config_t config  = {
        .log_type = ESP_DIAG_LOG_TYPE_ERROR,


    /* Rest of the application initialization */

You will require the MQTT certs which you can obtain by performing Claiming.

For more details please head over to examples.

Behind the Scenes

  • As described in the overview section, ESP-Insights collects data of your choice and stores it in storage, the storage currently used is RTC store.
  • The data is split into two sections, and the size is configurable via menuconfig:
    • Critical: Errors, Warnings and Events
    • Non-Critical: Metrics and Variables
  • This data is then periodically encoded in CBOR format and is sent over the transport.
  • The data send algorithm is dynamic withing a range. It adapts to the need of the reporting.

RTC data store

ESP-Insight currently uses RTC memory to store the messages until it is sent to the cloud. Unlike, normal RAM, RTC store makes data available across soft resets. Thus, it brodens the usefulness of the data across reboot.

Messages in Critical data take 121 bytes per message. Hence, one can calculate, say a 2048 bytes of critical section can hold 16 messages before it starts dropping new messages. Likewise Non-critical messages take 49 bytes per message and hence a 1024 bytes storage can hold 21 messages.

The RTC memory is limited and flooding too many messages, makes RTC storage full. Once full, the framework has to drop the messages. One solution is to increase the data reporting frequency to cloud, and thereby emptying the RTC store frequently.

Note This however comes with the network cost. It is advisable for a developer to keep Insights logging concise and not overdo it.


If you find an issue with ESP-Insights, or wish to submit an enhancement request, please use the Issues section on Github. For ESP-IDF related issues please use esp-idf repo.


ESP-Insights code is covered under Apache2 license. Submodules and other third party repos have their own license.