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Searchable snapshots

A searchable snapshot index reads data from a snapshot repository on demand in real time (at search time) rather than downloading all index data to cluster storage at restore time. Because the index data remains in the snapshot format in the repository, searchable snapshot indexes are inherently read-only. Any attempt to write to a searchable snapshot index results in an error.

The searchable snapshot feature incorporates techniques like caching frequently used data segments in cluster nodes and removing the least used data segment from the cluster nodes to make space for frequently used data segments. The data segments downloaded from snapshots on block storage reside alongside the general indexes of the cluster nodes. As such, the computing capacity of cluster nodes is shared between indexing, local search, and data segments on a snapshot residing on lower-cost object storage like Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). While cluster node resources are utilized much more efficiently, the high number of tasks results in slower and longer snapshot searches. The local storage of the node is also used for caching the snapshot data.

Configuring a node to use searchable snapshots

To configure the searchable snapshots feature, create a node in your opensearch.yml file and define the node role as search. Optionally, you can also configure the cache.size property for the node.

A search node reserves storage for the cache to perform searchable snapshot queries. In the case of a dedicated search node where the node exclusively has the search role, this value defaults to a fixed percentage of available storage. In other cases, the value needs to be configured by the user using the setting.

Parameter Type Description Byte size Specify the units for byte size. For example, 7kb or 6gb. For more information, see Supported units.. snapshots-node
node.roles: [ search ] 50gb

If you’re running Docker, you can create a node with the search node role by adding the line - node.roles=search to your docker-compose.yml file:

version: '3'
    image: opensearchproject/opensearch:2.7.0
    container_name: opensearch-node1
      - node.roles=search

Create a searchable snapshot index

A searchable snapshot index is created by specifying the remote_snapshot storage type using the restore snapshots API.

Request Field Description
storage_type local indicates that all snapshot metadata and index data will be downloaded to local storage.

remote_snapshot indicates that snapshot metadata will be downloaded to the cluster, but the remote repository will remain the authoritative store of the index data. Data will be downloaded and cached as necessary to service queries. At least one node in the cluster must be configured with the search node role in order to restore a snapshot using the remote_snapshot type.

Defaults to local.

Example request

The following request restores the index my-index from the snapshot my-snapshot as a searchable snapshot:

POST /_snapshot/my-repository/my-snapshot/_restore
  "storage_type": "remote_snapshot",
  "indices": "my-index"

Similar to all snapshot restore requests, you can include or exclude certain indexes or specify additional snapshot settings. For more information, see the restore snapshots API.

Listing indexes

To determine whether an index is a searchable snapshot index, look for a store type with the value of remote_snapshot:

GET /my-index/_settings?pretty
  "my-index": {
    "settings": {
      "index": {
        "store": {
          "type": "remote_snapshot"

Potential use cases

The following are potential use cases for the searchable snapshots feature:

  • The ability to offload indexes from cluster-based storage but retain the ability to search them.
  • The ability to have a large number of searchable indexes in lower-cost media.

Known limitations

The following are known limitations of the searchable snapshots feature:

  • Accessing data from a remote repository is slower than local disk reads, so higher latencies on search queries are expected.
  • Many remote object stores charge on a per-request basis for retrieval, so users should closely monitor any costs incurred.
  • Searching remote data can impact the performance of other queries running on the same node. We recommend that users provision dedicated nodes with the search role for performance-critical applications.
  • For better search performance, consider force merging indexes into a smaller number of segments before taking a snapshot. For the best performance, at the cost of using compute resources prior to snapshotting, force merge your index into one segment.
  • We recommend configuring a maximum ratio of remote data to local disk cache size using the cluster.filecache.remote_data_ratio setting. A ratio of 5 is a good starting point for most workloads to ensure good query performance. If the ratio is too large, then there may not be sufficient disk space to handle the search workload. For more details on the maximum ratio of remote data, see issue #11676.
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