Perhaps I should already know this but why is running a major compaction considered so bad?  We're running 1.1.6.


On Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 7:51 AM, Takenori Sato <> wrote:

I think it is a common headache for users running a large Cassandra cluster in production.

Running a major compaction is not the only cause, but more. For example, I see two typical scenario.

1. backup use case
2. active wide row

In the case of 1, say, one data is removed a year later. This means, tombstone on the row is 1 year away from the original row. To remove an expired row entirely, a compaction set has to include all the rows. So, when do the original, 1 year old row, and the tombstoned row are included in a compaction set? It is likely to take one year.

In the case of 2, such an active wide row exists in most of sstable files. And it typically contains many expired columns. But none of them wouldn't be removed entirely because a compaction set practically do not include all the row fragments.

Btw, there is a very convenient MBean API is available. It is CompactionManager's forceUserDefinedCompaction. You can invoke a minor compaction on a file set you define. So the question is how to find an optimal set of sstable files.

Then, I wrote a tool to check garbage, and print outs some useful information to find such an optimal set.

Here's a simple log output.

# /opt/cassandra/bin/checksstablegarbage -e /cassandra_data/UserData/Test5_BLOB-hc-4-Data.db
[Keyspace, ColumnFamily, gcGraceSeconds(gcBefore)] = [UserData, Test5_BLOB, 300(1373504071)]
hello5/100.txt.1373502926003, 40, 40, YES, YES, Test5_BLOB-hc-3-Data.db    
TOTAL, 40, 40
REMAINNING_SSTABLE_FILES means any other sstable files that contain the respective row. So, the following is an optimal set.

# /opt/cassandra/bin/checksstablegarbage -e /cassandra_data/UserData/Test5_BLOB-hc-4-Data.db /cassandra_data/UserData/Test5_BLOB-hc-3-Data.db 
[Keyspace, ColumnFamily, gcGraceSeconds(gcBefore)] = [UserData, Test5_BLOB, 300(1373504131)]
hello5/100.txt.1373502926003, 223, 0, YES, YES
TOTAL, 223, 0
This tool relies on SSTableReader and an aggregation iterator as Cassandra does in compaction. I was considering to share this with the community. So let me know if anyone is interested.

Ah, note that it is based on 1.0.7. So I will need to check and update for newer versions.


On Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 6:46 PM, Tomàs Núnez <> wrote:

About a year ago, we did a major compaction in our cassandra cluster (a n00b mistake, I know), and since then we've had huge sstables that never get compacted, and we were condemned to repeat the major compaction process every once in a while (we are using SizeTieredCompaction strategy, and we've not avaluated yet LeveledCompaction, because it has its downsides, and we've had no time to test all of them in our environment).

I was trying to find a way to solve this situation (that is, do something like a major compaction that writes small sstables, not huge as major compaction does), and I couldn't find it in the documentation. I tried cleanup and scrub/upgradesstables, but they don't do that (as documentation states). Then I tried deleting all data in a node and then bootstrapping it (or "nodetool rebuild"-ing it), hoping that this way the sstables would get cleaned from deleted records and updates. But the deleted node just copied the sstables from another node as they were, cleaning nothing. 

So I tried a new approach: I switched the sstable compaction strategy (SizeTiered to Leveled), forcing the sstables to be rewritten from scratch, and then switching it back (Leveled to SizeTiered). It took a while (but so do the major compaction process) and it worked, I have smaller sstables, and I've regained a lot of disk space.

I'm happy with the results, but it doesn't seem a orthodox way of "cleaning" the sstables. What do you think, is it something wrong or crazy? Is there a different way to achieve the same thing?

Let's put an example:
Suppose you have a write-only columnfamily (no updates and no deletes, so no need for LeveledCompaction, because SizeTiered works perfectly and requires less I/O) and you mistakenly run a major compaction on it. After a few months you need more space and you delete half the data, and you find out that you're not freeing half the disk space, because most of those records were in the "major compacted" sstables. How can you free the disk space? Waiting will do you no good, because the huge sstable won't get compacted anytime soon. You can run another major compaction, but that would just postpone the real problem. Then you can switch compaction strategy and switch it back, as I just did. Is there any other way?

Tomàs Núñez
Tel. + 34 93 159 31 00 
Fax. + 34 93 396 18 52
Llull, 95-97, 2º planta, 08005 Barcelona
Skype: tomas.nunez.groupalia
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