Elasticsearch - Locking Memory for Production

A common error people face when putting an Elasticsearch cluster to production has to do with memory locking. Tipically users would see errors like “Unable to lock JVM memory (ENOMEM). This can result in part of the JVM being swapped out. Increase RLIMIT_MEMLOCK (ulimit)” or “memory locking requested for elasticsearch process but memory is not locked”.

Here is what I have done to lock the memory on Elasticsearch nodes. I’m using version 5.4.0 on Centos 7 machines but this procedure will work in any distributions that use systemd.

You must make the change in 4 different places:

1) /etc/sysconfig/elasticsearch

On sysconfig: /etc/sysconfig/elasticsearch you should have:

ES_JAVA_OPTS="-Xms4g -Xmx4g" 

(replace 4g with HALF your available RAM as recommended here)

2) /etc/security/limits.conf

On security limits config: /etc/security/limits.conf you should have

elasticsearch soft memlock unlimited
elasticsearch hard memlock unlimited

3) /usr/lib/systemd/system/elasticsearch.service

On the service script: /usr/lib/systemd/system/elasticsearch.service you should uncomment:


you should do systemctl daemon-reload after changing the service script

4) /etc/elasticsearch/elasticsearch.yml

On elasticsearch config finally: /etc/elasticsearch/elasticsearch.yml you should add:

bootstrap.memory_lock: true

Thats it, restart your node and the RAM will be locked.

Written on April 1, 2018