Skip to content
Elasticsearch benchmarking tools
Latest commit 92f9d6b Apr 4, 2016 @mkocikowski Mark as deprecated / decrepit

OBSOLETE / deprecated / decrepit?

Hi, I am no longer supporting this. Leaving the code for reference, but will be removing the supporting s3 data, as I don't want to pay the transfer fees any more. This code is old and I have no idea if it even runs on modern ES! I suggest that for benchmarking you put a load on your system while monitoring with Marvel. I consult / optimize ES clusters for a living, so if you have a problem, get in touch (via issues). Also, come over to our ES meetup! Have a great day, Mik.

Elasticsearch benchmarking tools

'esbench' is a set of python 2.7 scripts for benchmarking Elasticsearch. The two primary uses are for capacity planning (guessing how much oomph you need to do what what you think you need to do), and for performance tuning (trying out various index, mapping, and query settings in a consistent and reproducible manner).


For now, since the project is under active development, I recommend that you install from the 'dev' branch, with:

pip install

This should give you a reasonable stable and reasonably current version. There is always the 'master' (replace '' with '' in the command above), but I really think for now you are best off with 'dev'.

Quick start

With an instance of elasticsearch running on localhost:9200, do:

esbench run

When the bench run has finished, you can review the results with:

esbench show

To get help:

esbench --help
esbench <command> --help


An Elasticsearch index is composed of a set of 1 or more Lucene indexes (designated as primary and replica 'shards' by ES). The Elasticsearch cluster routes incoming documents and search requests to individual Lucene indexes / shards as needed. A single Lucene index is the basic unit on which indexing and search operations are executed, and so the performance of individual Lucene indexes largely determines the performance of a cluster. Lucene indexes store data on disk in append-only 'segments', which can be periodically cleaned up and merged. The number and size (bytes) of these segments, and the disk IO, ultimately determine the speed at which data can be retrieved. Read the merge documentation on the ES site.

The basic approach to benchmarking is to create an Elasticsearch index with 1 primary and no replica shards (a single Lucene index), load it with data, and run representative use patterns against it, adding more data until the performance drops below acceptable levels. That will determine the maximum viable size of a single shard given the data, use patterns, and hardware. Total expected data size divided by the viable single index size gives then the number of required shards. With a rule of thumb of no more than 2 shards per core, this allows for simple capacity planning.

The 'run' command

When the 'run' command is executed, a 'esbench_test' index is created on the target ES host, populated with provided data, and queried at specified intervals. The queries which will be executed against the index are provided in the 'config.json' file. Observations taken while the benchmark is running are recorded in the 'esbench_stats' index on the ES host. Each benchmark results in one document of type 'bench' and one or more documents of type 'obs' (observation) added to the 'esbench_stats' index.

When executed with default arguments, the 'run' command will result in a quick (too small to be meaningful) benchmark run against the local ES instance, using US Patent Application data downloaded from S3 (into /tmp, size 99MB). The intention is to provide sample data to verify that the 'rig is working' and to familiarize the user with observation data.

The first argument to play with is 'maxsize', the only non-keyword parameter, which specifies the total number of documents to be inserted into the test index, or the total byte size of data to be inserted. Default value is 1mb allows the benchmark to run in just few seconds. Running:

esbench run 5gb

will result in an index of about 4.8GB, which starts to yield meaningful performance information. Experimenting with queries, and the various parameters (try adjusting the number of segments or optimize calls) will yield interesting changes. Depending on the specified logging level, you will see information somewhat like that when running the benchmark:

INFO:esbench.bench:beginning observation no: 10, 2013-12-31T19:07:37Z
INFO:esbench.bench:ran query 'match_description_facet_date_histogram' 100 times in 0.34s
INFO:esbench.bench:ran query 'match_description_sorted_abstract' 100 times in 0.55s
INFO:esbench.bench:ran query 'match_description' 100 times in 0.33s
INFO:esbench.bench:finished observation no: 10, id: fc1596c0, time: 1.221
INFO:esbench.bench:recorded observation into: http://localhost:9200/esbench_stats/obs/fc1596c0
INFO:esbench.bench:load complete; loaded total 36 lines into index 'esbench_test', total size: 1396489 (1.00mb)
INFO:esbench.bench:recorded benchmark into: http://localhost:9200/esbench_stats/bench/2a4fb87d

As data is stored into the 'esbench_stats' index, you can access it raw (see the last log line for the URL). This is the raw data, see the 'show' command for more user-friendly way of looking at the results.

The config file

The 'run' command uses a json config file for its index and query settings. You can see the path to the default config file ('config.json') by running 'esbench run --help' and looking for the value of '--config-file-path' argument. There are 3 sections to the config file:

  1. 'queries': here you define the queries which will be run against the test data. Each key is a human-readable name, and the value is an ES query. This is the section which you want to customize to match your use patterns; if you are using your own data source with structure different than the default data source, then you definitely need to change the queries.
  2. 'index': settings used for creating test 'esbench_test' index into which test data is loaded. Default shards 1/0, basic mapping. You can change this, specifically the mapping, if you want to experiment with different data sources.
  3. 'config': basic configuration, command line arguments override these settings.

You can specify the config file to use with the '--config-file-path' flag to the 'run' command.

Alternative data sources

To use data other than the default USPTO Patent Application set, you need 2 things: a source of json documents (formatted in a way to be acceptable to Elasticsearch), one document per line, and a config file with the 'queries' section modified to match the data you are feeding in. Assuming that your data is in a file 'mydata.json', and your config is in 'myconf.json', then this is what you want to do (the two lines below are equivalent, but the second is piping data into 'esbench run' on stdin, which you can use with tools like 'esdump' to feed data from a running index into a test rig):

esbench run --config-file-path myjson.json --data mydata.json
cat mydata.json | esbench run --config-file-path myjson.json --data /dev/stdin 

So, let's say you have an index 'myindex' running on 'http://myhost:9200/', and you want to take your 'real' data from that server, and feed it into your benchmarking rig (you will need to install the esdump):

esdump --host myhost --port 9200 myindex | esbench run --config-file-path myjson.json --data /dev/stdin

Note that the 'size' control still works, so if you want to only get 10mb of data from the source, you do:

esdump --host myhost --port 9200 myindex | esbench run --config-file-path myjson.json --data /dev/stdin 10mb

The 'show' command

The 'show' command will retrieve previously recorded benchmark information from an ES instance, and format it and display it as requested. Running it without parameters will output data in csv format, with only most important columns present. There are many options available, bun in general, if you are not satisfied with what you get 'out of the box', the approach is to dump all the data into a csv, and use whatever tools you prefer to graph / analyze the data. When you run 'esbench show --help' you will get info on options available. You can run:

esbench show --format tab

to get the data formatted in a table, but honestly, you will need a really big screen (& tiny font) for that to be any use at this time. Since the data, columns, orders of magnitude, will all change if you go with data sets / query sets other than default, I'm not putting much time into 'canned' data analysis. Put it out to csv files, analyze with outside tools.


esbench show --help

The basic idea is that you dump the fields in which you are interested into a csv file, and then use whatever tools you prefer to analyze and graph that data. However, 'esbench show --help' will show you the command line commands needed to graph the standard data (you will need to have gnuplot on your system). Since you can access data on remote systems ('--host' and '--port' arguments), you only need gnuplot on your workstation.

The 'dump' command

Dump previously recorded benchmark data as a series of curl calls. These can be replayed to populate a new index. The idea with this is that this way you can easily share the raw benchmark data, say by dumping it into gist. Or you can just copy and paste right in the terminal - it is just a series of curl calls. To dump into a file:

esbench dump > foo.curl

To load these into an elasticsearch index on localhost:

. foo.curl


The default data set is US Patent Applications fror years 2005-2012. These have been pre-parsed and are available for download from S3. The downloading, unzipping, etc all happens automagically courtesy of the '' module. To get a sample document:

python -m | head -1 | python -m json.tool

document counts / byte sizes are as follows:

  • 2005: 16gb, 289617 docs
  • 2006: 13gb, 294540 docs
  • 2007: 14gb, 300200 docs
  • 2008: 15gb, 320525 docs
  • 2009: 16gb, 328237 docs
  • 2010: 16gb, 333211 docs
  • 2011: 16gb, 321182 docs
  • 2012: 17gb, 331583 docs

for a total of 123gb of raw data. These files are pre parsed and stored in S3 so that there is a solid baseline immutable data set which can be easily shared.


Once 'esbench' has been installed (no need for local Elasticsearch instance):

python -m esbench.test.units

This may take few minutes as part of the test involves downloading a sample data file from s3.


The project uses the MIT license:

Copyright (c) 2013 Mikolaj Kocikowski

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a
copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"),
to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation
the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense,
and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the
Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in
all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.