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Knapsack plugin for Elasticsearch

Knapsack is an "swiss knife" export/import plugin for Elasticsearch. It uses archive formats (tar, zip, cpio) and also Elasticsearch bulk format with compression algorithms (gzip, bzip2, lzf, xz).

A pull or push of indexes or search hits with stored fields across clusters is also supported.

The knapsack actions can be executed via HTTP REST, or in Java using the Java API.

In archive files, the following index information is encoded:

  • index settings
  • index mappings
  • index aliases

When importing archive files again, this information is reapplied.

Compatibility matrix


Elasticsearch Plugin Release date
2.3.4 Aug 4, 2016
2.3.3 May 23, 2016
2.3.1 Apr 21, 2016
2.3.0 Mar 31, 2016
2.2.1 Mar 31, 2016
2.1.2 Mar 23, 2016
2.2.0 Feb 23, 2016
2.1.1 Dec 30, 2015
2.1.0 Dec 7, 2015
2.0.0 Nov 14, 2015
2.0.0-rc1 2.0.0-rc1.0 Oct 12, 2015

For older releases and 1.x versions, see the repective branches.

Installation 2.x

./bin/plugin install

Do not forget to restart the node after installation.

Note: If you get an error while exporting or importing like this

{"error":{"root_cause":[{"type":"access_control_exception","reason":"access denied (\"\" \"/foo/\" \"read\")"}],"type":"access_control_exception","reason":"access denied (\"\" \"/foo/\" \"read\")"},"status":500}

then you are blocked by the Elasticsearch 2.x security manager. In this case, choose another directory for reading/writing archive files, preferably path.logs.

It is recommended to add a node with knapsack plugin installed only, no data, no master, and removing the node after the export/import completed.

Project docs

The Maven project site is available at Github




Let's go through a simple example:

curl -XDELETE localhost:9200/test
curl -XPUT localhost:9200/test/test/1 -d '{"key":"value 1"}'
curl -XPUT localhost:9200/test/test/2 -d '{"key":"value 2"}'


You can export this Elasticsearch index with

curl -XPOST localhost:9200/test/test/_export
{"running":true,"state":{"mode":"export","started":"2015-10-12T18:13:47.214Z","path":"file:///Users/es/elasticsearch-2.0.0-rc1/logs/_all.tar.gz","node_name":"Doctor Bong"}}

The result is a file in the Elasticsearch path.logs folder

-rw-r--r--   1 joerg  staff          343 28 Sep 21:18 test_test.tar.gz

Check with tar utility, the settings and the mapping is also exported

tar ztvf test_test.tar.gz 
-rw-r--r--  0 joerg  0         133 28 Sep 21:18 test/_settings/null/null
-rw-r--r--  0 joerg  0          49 28 Sep 21:18 test/test/_mapping/null
-rw-r--r--  0 joerg  0          17 28 Sep 21:18 test/test/1/_source
-rw-r--r--  0 joerg  0          17 28 Sep 21:18 test/test/2/_source

Also, you can export a whole index with

curl -XPOST localhost:9200/test/_export

with the archive file test.tar.gz, or even all cluster indices with

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/_export'

to the file _all.tar.gz

Available suffixes for archive formats


Available suffixes for compression


By default, the archive format is tar with compression gz (gzip).

You can also export to zip, cpio or bulk archive format.

Available compression codecs are bz2 (bzip2), xz (Xz), or lzf (LZF)

Note: if you use the bulk format, you create Elasticsearch bulk format.

Export search results

You can add a query to the _export endpoint just like you would do for searching in Elasticsearch.

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/test/_export' -d '{
   "query" : {
       "match_phrase" : {
           "key" : "value 1"
   "fields" : [ "_parent", "_source" ]

Export to an archive with a given archive path name

You can configure an archive path with the parameter archivepath

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/_export?archivepath=/tmp/'

If Elasticsearch can not write to the archive path, an error message will appear, and no export will take place.

Note: Elasticsearch 2.x has a security manager enabled by default which prevents reading/writing to locations outside of Elasticsearch directories. Therefore, the default location for export/import is set to the path.logs directory. If you prefer to write to or read from any locations, you can disable the security manager by

./bin/elasticsearch ... -Dsecurity.manager.enabled=false

Existing archive files are not overwritten. You can force overwrite with the parameter overwrite=true

Export split by byte size

You can create multiple archive files with the parameter bytes

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/_export?archivepath=/tmp/myindex.bulk&bytes=10m'

This creates myindex.bulk, 1.myindex.bulk, 2.myindex.bulk ... where all archive files are around 10 megabytes.

Renaming indexes and index types

You can rename indexes and index types by adding a map parameter that contains a JSON object with old and new index (and index/type) names.

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/type/_export?map=\{"test":"testcopy","test/type":"testcopy/typecopy"\}'

Note the backslash, which is required to escape shell interpretation of curly braces.

Push or pull indices from one cluster to another

If you want tp push or pull indices from one cluster to another, Knapsack is your friend.

You can copy an index in the local cluster or to a remote cluster with the _push or the _pull endpoint. This works if you have the same Java JVM version and the same Elasticsearch version.

Example for a local cluster copy of the index test to testcopy

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/_push?map=\{"test":"testcopy"\}'

Example for a remote cluster copy of the index test by using the parameters cluster, host, and port

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/_push?&cluster=remote&host='

This is a complete example that illustrates how to filter an index by timestamp and copy this part to another index

curl -XDELETE 'localhost:9200/test'
curl -XDELETE 'localhost:9200/testcopy'
curl -XPUT 'localhost:9200/test/' -d '
    "mappings" : {
        "_default_": {
            "_timestamp" : { "enabled" : true, "store" : true, "path" : "date" }
curl -XPUT 'localhost:9200/test/doc/1' -d '
    "date" : "2014-01-01T00:00:00",
    "sentence" : "Hi!",
    "value" : 1
curl -XPUT 'localhost:9200/test/doc/2' -d '
    "date" : "2014-01-02T00:00:00",
    "sentence" : "Hello World!",
    "value" : 2
curl -XPUT 'localhost:9200/test/doc/3' -d '
    "date" : "2014-01-03T00:00:00",
    "sentence" : "Welcome!",
    "value" : 3
curl 'localhost:9200/test/_refresh'
curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/_push?map=\{"test":"testcopy"\}' -d '
    "fields" : [ "_timestamp", "_source" ],
    "query" : {
         "filtered" : {
             "query" : {
                 "match_all" : {
             "filter" : {
                "range": {
                   "_timestamp" : {
                       "from" : "2014-01-02"
curl '0:9200/test/_search?fields=_timestamp&pretty'
curl '0:9200/testcopy/_search?fields=_timestamp&pretty'


You can import the file with the _import endpoint

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/test/_import'

Knapsack does not delete or overwrite data by default. But you can use the parameter createIndex with the value false to allow indexing to indexes that exist.

When importing, you can map your indexes or index/types to your favorite ones.

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/_import?map=\{"test":"testcopy"\}'

Modifying settings and mappings

You can overwrite the settings and mapping when importing by using parameters in the form <index>_settings=<filename> or <index>_<type>_mapping=<filename>.

General example::

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/myindex/mytype/_import?myindex_settings=/my/new/mysettings.json&myindex_mytype_mapping=/my/new/mapping.json'

The following statements demonstrate how you can change the number of shards from the default 5 to 1 and replica from 1 to 0 for an index test

curl -XDELETE localhost:9200/test
curl -XPUT 'localhost:9200/test/test/1' -d '{"key":"value 1"}'
curl -XPUT 'localhost:9200/test/test/2' -d '{"key":"value 2"}'
curl -XPUT 'localhost:9200/test2/foo/1' -d '{"key":"value 1"}'
curl -XPUT 'localhost:9200/test2/bar/1' -d '{"key":"value 1"}'
curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/_export'
tar zxvf test.tar.gz test/_settings
echo '{"index.number_of_shards":"1","index.number_of_replicas":"0"}' > test/_settings/null/null
curl -XDELETE 'localhost:9200/test'
curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/_import?test_settings=test/_settings/null/null'
curl -XGET 'localhost:9200/test/_settings?pretty'
curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/test/_search?q=*&pretty'

The result is a search on an index with just one shard.

  "took" : 19,
  "timed_out" : false,
  "_shards" : {
    "total" : 1,
    "successful" : 1,
    "failed" : 0
  "hits" : {
    "total" : 2,
    "max_score" : 1.0,
    "hits" : [ {
      "_index" : "test",
      "_type" : "test",
      "_id" : "1",
      "_score" : 1.0,
      "_source":{"key":"value 1"}
    }, {
      "_index" : "test",
      "_type" : "test",
      "_id" : "2",
      "_score" : 1.0,
      "_source":{"key":"value 2"}
    } ]

State of knapsack import/export actions

While exports or imports or running, you can check the state with

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/_export/state'


curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/_import/state'

Aborting knapsack actions

If you want to abort all running knapsack exports/import, you can do this by

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/_export/abort'


curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/_import/abort'

Handing Parent/Child documents


Handling dependant documents is bit tricky since indexing a child document requires the presence of its parent document. A simple approach is to export the documents into seperate archives by using a query. In case your child documents are located in the same type as the parent documents, define the appropriate filter in the query. If you have stored the child documents in a seperate type, you can export the type containing the parent documents like this:

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/myIndex/myParentDocs/_export?archivepath=/tmp/'

When exporting the type containing the child documents, include the "_parent" meta field

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/myIndex/myChildDocs/_export?archivepath=/tmp/'' -d '{
   "query" : {
       "match_all" : {
   "fields" : [ "_parent", "_source" ]

Importing Parent/Child documents

Before you import the parent documents, you have to create the index manually first: Each type export only contains the mapping of that spedific type and you cannot add a dependant mapping in a second step later. All dependant mappings must be created at the same time otherwise you'll get an error like "java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: Can't specify parent if no parent field has been configured". After creating the index, import the parent documents:

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/myIndex/myParentDocs/_import?archivepath=/tmp/'

Then import the child documents:

curl -XPOST 'localhost:9200/myIndex/myChildDocs/_import?archivepath=/tmp/'

Repeat this for all your child types.

Java API

Knapsack implements all actions as Java transport actions in Elasticsearch.

You can consult the junit tests for finding out how to use the API. To give you an impression, here is just an example for a very minimal export/import cycle using the bulk archive format.

    client.index(new IndexRequest().index("index1").type("test1").id("doc1")
         .source("content","Hello World").refresh(true)).actionGet();
    File exportFile = File.createTempFile("minimal-import-", ".bulk");
    Path exportPath = Paths.get(URI.create("file:" + exportFile.getAbsolutePath()));
    KnapsackExportRequestBuilder requestBuilder = new KnapsackExportRequestBuilder(client.admin().indices())
    KnapsackExportResponse knapsackExportResponse = requestBuilder.execute().actionGet();

    KnapsackStateRequestBuilder knapsackStateRequestBuilder =
           new KnapsackStateRequestBuilder(client.admin().indices());
    KnapsackStateResponse knapsackStateResponse = knapsackStateRequestBuilder.execute().actionGet();


    client.admin().indices().delete(new DeleteIndexRequest("index1")).actionGet();

    KnapsackImportRequestBuilder knapsackImportRequestBuilder = new KnapsackImportRequestBuilder(client.admin().indices())
    KnapsackImportResponse knapsackImportResponse = knapsackImportRequestBuilder.execute().actionGet();


Knapsack is very simple and works without locks or snapshots. This means, if Elasticsearch is allowed to write to the part of your data in the export while it runs, you may lose data in the export. So it is up to you to organize the safe export and import with this plugin.

If you want a more advanced feature, please use the snapshot/restore which is the standard procedure for saving/restoring data in Elasticsearch:


Knapsack contains derived work of Apache Common Compress

The code in this component has many origins: The bzip2, tar and zip support came from Avalon's Excalibur, but originally from Ant, as far as life in Apache goes. The tar package is originally Tim Endres' public domain package. The bzip2 package is based on the work done by Keiron Liddle as well as Julian Seward's libbzip2. It has migrated via: Ant -> Avalon-Excalibur -> Commons-IO -> Commons-Compress. The cpio package is based on contributions of Michael Kuss and the jRPM project.

Thanks to nicktgr15 <> for extending Knapsack to support Amazon S3.


Knapsack Plugin for Elasticsearch

Copyright (C) 2012 Jörg Prante

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.


Knapsack plugin is an import/export tool for Elasticsearch







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