InfluxDB schema design and data layout

Warning! This page documents an earlier version of InfluxDB, which is no longer actively developed. InfluxDB v1.6 is the most recent stable version of InfluxDB.

Every InfluxDB use case is special and your schema will reflect that uniqueness. There are, however, general guidelines to follow and pitfalls to avoid when designing your schema.

General Recommendations Encouraged Schema Design Discouraged Schema Design Shard Group Duration Management

General recommendations

Encouraged schema design

In no particular order, we recommend that you:

Encode meta data in tags

Tags are indexed and fields are not indexed. This means that queries on tags are more performant than those on fields.

In general, your queries should guide what gets stored as a tag and what gets stored as a field:

  • Store data in tags if they’re commonly-queried meta data
  • Store data in tags if you plan to use them with GROUP BY()
  • Store data in fields if you plan to use them with an InfluxQL function
  • Store data in fields if you need them to be something other than a string - tag values are always interpreted as strings

Avoid using InfluxQL keywords as identifier names

This isn’t necessary, but it simplifies writing queries; you won’t have to wrap those identifiers in double quotes. Identifiers are database names, retention policy names, user names, measurement names, tag keys, and field keys. See InfluxQL Keywords for words to avoid.

Note that you will also need to wrap identifiers in double quotes in queries if they contain characters other than [A-z,_].

Discouraged schema design

In no particular order, we recommend that you:

Don’t have too many series

Tags containing highly variable information like UUIDs, hashes, and random strings will lead to a large number of series in the database, known colloquially as high series cardinality. High series cardinality is a primary driver of high memory usage for many database workloads.

See Hardware sizing guidelines for series cardinality recommendations based on your hardware. If the system has memory constraints, consider storing high-cardinality data as a field rather than a tag.

Don’t encode data in measurement names

In general, taking this step will simplify your queries. InfluxDB queries merge data that fall within the same measurement; it’s better to differentiate data with tags than with detailed measurement names.

Example:

Consider the following schema represented by line protocol.

Schema 1 - Data encoded in the measurement name
-------------
blueberries.plot-1.north temp=50.1 1472515200000000000
blueberries.plot-2.midwest temp=49.8 1472515200000000000

The long measurement names (blueberries.plot-1.north) with no tags are similar to Graphite metrics. Encoding information like plot and region in the measurement name will make the data much harder to query.

For instance, calculating the average temperature of both plots 1 and 2 would not be possible with schema 1. Compare this to the following schema represented in line protocol.

Schema 2 - Data encoded in tags
-------------
weather_sensor,crop=blueberries,plot=1,region=north temp=50.1 1472515200000000000
weather_sensor,crop=blueberries,plot=2,region=midwest temp=49.8 1472515200000000000

The following queries calculate the average of temp for blueberries that fall in the north region. While both queries are relatively simple, use of the regular expression make certain queries much more complicated or impossible.

# Schema 1 - Query for data encoded in the measurement name
> SELECT mean("temp") FROM /\.north$/

# Schema 2 - Query for data encoded in tags
> SELECT mean("temp") FROM "weather_sensor" WHERE "region" = 'north'

Don’t put more than one piece of information in one tag

Similar to the point above, splitting a single tag with multiple pieces into separate tags will simplify your queries and reduce the need for regular expressions.

Example:

Consider the following schema represented by line protocol.

Schema 1 - Multiple data encoded in a single tag
-------------
weather_sensor,crop=blueberries,location=plot-1.north temp=50.1 1472515200000000000
weather_sensor,crop=blueberries,location=plot-2.midwest temp=49.8 1472515200000000000

The above data encodes multiple separate parameters, the plot and region into a long tag value (plot-1.north). Compare this to the following schema represented in line protocol.

Schema 2 - Data encoded in multiple tags
-------------
weather_sensor,crop=blueberries,plot=1,region=north temp=50.1 1472515200000000000
weather_sensor,crop=blueberries,plot=2,region=midwest temp=49.8 1472515200000000000

The following queries calculate the average of temp for blueberries that fall in the north region. While both queries are similar, the use of multiple tags in Schema 2 avoids the use of a regular expressions.

# Schema 1 - Query for multiple data encoded in a single tag
> SELECT mean("temp") FROM "weather_sensor" WHERE location =~ /\.north$/

# Schema 2 - Query for data encoded in multiple tags
> SELECT mean("temp") FROM "weather_sensor" WHERE region = 'north'

Shard group duration management

Shard group duration overview

InfluxDB stores data in shard groups. Shard groups are organized by retention policy (RP) and store data with timestamps that fall within a specific time interval. The length of that time interval is called the shard group duration.

If no shard group duration is provided, the shard group duration is determined by the RP’s duration at the time the RP is created. The default values are:

RP Duration Shard Group Duration
< 2 days 1 hour
>= 2 days and <= 6 months 1 day
> 6 months 7 days

The shard group duration is also configurable per RP. See Retention Policy Management for how to configure the shard group duration.

Shard group duration tradeoffs

Determining the optimal shard group duration requires finding the balance between:

  • better overall performance with longer shards
  • flexibility provided by shorter shards

Long shard group duration

Longer shard group durations allow InfluxDB to store more data in the same logical location. This reduces data duplication, improves compression efficiency, and allows faster queries in some cases.

Short shard group duration

Shorter shard group durations allow the system to more efficiently drop data and record incremental backups. When InfluxDB enforces an RP it drops entire shard groups, not individual data points, even if the points are older than the RP duration. A shard group will only be removed once a shard group’s end time is older than the RP duration.

For example, if your RP has a duration of one day, InfluxDB will drop an hour’s worth of data every hour and will always have 25 shard groups. One for each hour in the day and an extra shard group that is partially expiring, but will not be removed until the whole shard group is older than 24 hours.

Shard group duration recommendations

The default shard group durations works well for most cases. However, high-throughput or long-running instances will benefit from using longer shard group durations. Here are some recommendations for longer shard group durations:

RP Duration Shard Group Duration
<= 1 day 6 hours
> 1 day and <= 7 days 1 day
> 7 days and <= 3 months 7 days
> 3 months 30 days
infinite 52 weeks or longer

Note: Note that INF (infinite) is not a valid shard group duration. In extreme cases where data covers decades and will never be deleted, a long shard group duration like 1040w (20 years) is perfectly valid.

Here are some other factors to take into considerations when determining shard group duration:

  • Shard groups should be twice as long as the longest time range of the most frequent queries
  • Shard groups should each contain more than 100,000 points per shard group
  • Shard groups should each contain more than 1,000 points per series

Shard group duration for backfilling

Bulk insertion of historical data covering a large time range in the past will trigger the creation of a large number of shards at once. The concurrent access and overhead of writing to hundreds or thousands of shards can quickly lead to slow performance and memory exhaustion.

When writing historical data, we highly recommend temporarily setting a longer shard group duration so fewer shards are created. Typically, a shard group duration of 52 weeks works well for backfilling.