You may want to set compaction threshold and not throughput.  If you set the min threshold to something very large (100000), compactions will not start until cassandra finds this many files to compact (which it should not).

In the past I have used this to stop compactions on a node, and then run an offline major compaction to get though the compaction, then set the min threshold back.  Not everyone likes major compactions though.

  setcompactionthreshold <keyspace> <cfname> <minthreshold> <maxthreshold> - Set the min and max 
compaction thresholds for a given column family

On Mon, Apr 1, 2013 at 12:38 PM, William Oberman <> wrote:
I'll skip the prelude, but I worked myself into a bit of a jam.  I'm recovering now, but I want to double check if I'm thinking about things correct.

Basically, I was in a state where a majority of my servers wanted to do compactions, and rather large ones.  This was impacting my site performance.  I tried nodetool stop COMPACTION.  I tried setcompactionthroughput=1.  I tried restarting servers, but they'd restart the compactions pretty much immediately on boot.

Then I realized that:
nodetool stop COMPACTION
only stopped running compactions, and then the compactions would re-enqueue themselves rather quickly.

So, right now I have:
1.) scripts running on N-1 servers looping on "nodetool stop COMPACTION" in a tight loop
2.) On the "Nth" server I've disabled gossip/thrift and turned up setcompactionthroughput to 999
3.) When the Nth server completes, I pick from the remaining N-1 (well, I'm still running the first compaction, which is going to take 12 more hours, but that is the plan at least).

Does this make sense?  Other than the fact there was probably warning signs that would have prevented me from getting into this state in the first place? :-)