Downsampling and Data Retention

Warning! This page documents an old version of InfluxDB, which is no longer actively developed. InfluxDB v1.2 is the most recent stable version of InfluxDB.

InfluxDB can handle hundreds of thousands of data points per second. Working with that much data over a long period of time can create storage concerns. A natural solution is to downsample the data; keep the high precision raw data for only a limited time, and store the lower precision, summarized data for much longer or forever.

This guide shows how to combine two InfluxDB features – retention policies and continuous queries – to automatically downsample and expire data.

Retention Policies

Definition

A retention policy (RP) is the part of InfluxDB’s data structure that describes for how long InfluxDB keeps data (duration) and how many copies of those data are stored in the cluster (replication factor). A database can have several RPs and RPs are unique per database.

Purpose

In general, InfluxDB wasn’t built to process deletes. One of the fundamental assumptions in its architecture is that deletes are infrequent and need not be highly performant. However, InfluxDB recognizes the necessity of purging data that have outlived their usefulness - that is the purpose of RPs.

Working with RPs

When you create a database, InfluxDB automatically creates an RP called default with an infinite duration and a replication factor set to the number of nodes in the cluster. default also serves as the DEFAULT RP; if you do not supply an explicit RP when you write a point to the database, the data are subject to the DEFAULT RP.

InfluxDB automatically queries from and writes to the DEFAULT RP on a database. To query from or write to a different RP, you must fully qualify the measurement, that is, specify the database and retention policy with the measurement name: <database_name>."<retention_policy>".<measurement_name>.

You can also create, alter, and delete you own RPs, and you can change the database’s DEFAULT RP. See Database management for more on RP management.

Clarifying default vs. DEFAULT

default: The name of the RP that InfluxDB automatically generates when you create a new database. It has an infinite duration and a replication factor set to the number of nodes in the cluster. It is initially the DEFAULT RP as well, but that can be altered.

DEFAULT: The RP that InfluxDB writes to if you do not supply an explicit RP in the write.

Continuous Queries

Definition

A continuous query (CQ) is an InfluxQL query that runs automatically and periodically within a database. CQs require a function in the SELECT clause and must include a GROUP BY time() clause. InfluxDB stores the results of the CQ in a specified measurement.

Purpose

CQs are optimal for regularly downsampling data - once you implement the CQ, InfluxDB automatically and periodically runs the query, and, instead of simply returning the results like a normal query, InfluxDB stores the results of a CQ in a measurement for future use.

Working with CQs

The section below offers a very brief introduction to creating CQs. See Continuous Queries for a detailed discussion on how to create and manage CQs.

Combining RPs and CQs - a casestudy

We have real-time data that track the number of food orders to a restaurant via phone and via website at 10 second intervals. In the long run, we’re only interested in the average number of orders by phone and by website at 30 minute intervals. In the next steps, we use RPs and CQs to make InfluxDB:

  • automatically delete the raw 10 second level data that are older than two hours
  • automatically aggregate the 10 second level data to 30 minute level data
  • keep the 30 minute level data forever

The following steps work with a fictional database called food_data and the measurement orders. orders has two fields, phone and website, which store the number of orders that arrive via each channel every 10 seconds.

Prepare the database

Before writing the data to the database food_data, we perform the following steps.

Note: We do this before inserting any data because InfluxDB only performs CQs on new data, that is, data with timestamps that occur after the time at which we create the CQ.

Create a new DEFAULT RP

When we initially created the database food_data, InfluxDB automatically generated an RP called default with an infinite duration and a replication factor set to the number of nodes in the cluster. default is also the DEFAULT RP for food_data; if we do not supply an explicit RP when we write a point to the database, InfluxDB writes the point to default and it keeps those data forever.

We want the DEFAULT RP on food_data to be a two hour policy. To create our new RP, we enter the following command:

> CREATE RETENTION POLICY two_hours ON food_data DURATION 2h REPLICATION 1 DEFAULT

That query makes the two_hours RP the DEFAULT RP in food_data. When we write data to the database and do not supply an RP in the write, InfluxDB automatically stores those data in the two_hours RP. Once those data have timestamps that are older than two hours, InfluxDB deletes those data. For a more detailed discussion on the CREATE RETENTION POLICY syntax, see Database Management.

To clarify, we’ve included the results from the SHOW RETENTION POLICIES query below. Notice that there are two RPs in food_data (default and two_hours) and that the third column identifies two_hours as the DEFAULT RP.

> SHOW RETENTION POLICIES ON food_data
name		      duration	  replicaN	  default
default		   0		        1		        false
two_hours	  2h0m0s		   1		        true

Create the CQ

Now we create a CQ that automatically downsamples the 10 second level data to 30 minute level data:

> CREATE CONTINUOUS QUERY cq_30m ON food_data BEGIN SELECT mean(website) AS mean_website,mean(phone) AS mean_phone INTO food_data."default".downsampled_orders FROM orders GROUP BY time(30m) END

That CQ makes InfluxDB automatically and periodically calculate the 30 minute average from the 10 second website order data and the 30 minute average from the 10 second phone order data. InfluxDB also writes the CQ’s results into the measurement downsampled_orders and to the RP default; InfluxDB stores the aggregated data in downsampled_orders forever.

Note: You must specify the RP in the INTO clause to write the results of the query to an RP other than the DEFAULT RP. In the CQ above, we write the results of the query to the infinite RP default by fully qualifying the measurement. To fully qualify a measurement, specify its database and RP with <database_name>."<retention_policy>".<measurement_name>. If you do not fully qualify the measurement, InfluxDB writes the results of the query to the two hour RP DEFAULT.

For a more detailed discussion on the CREATE CONTINUOUS QUERY syntax, see Continuous Queries.

Write the data to InfluxDB and see the results

Now that we’ve prepped food_data, we start writing the data to InfluxDB and let things run for a bit. After a while, we see that the database has two measurements: orders and downsampled_orders.

A sample of the oldest data in orders - these are the raw 10 second data subject to the two_hours RP:

> SELECT * FROM orders LIMIT 5
name: orders
-----------------
time						            phone 	website
2015-12-04T20:00:11Z	 1	     6
2015-12-04T20:00:20Z		9	     10
2015-12-04T20:00:30Z		2	     17
2015-12-04T20:00:40Z		3	     10
2015-12-04T20:00:50Z		1	     15

We submitted this query on 12/04/2015 at 22:08:19 UTC - notice that the oldest data have timestamps that are no older than around two hours ago1.

A sample of the oldest data in downsampled_orders - these are the aggregated data subject to the default RP:

> SELECT * FROM food_data."default".downsampled_orders LIMIT 5
name: downsampled_orders
------------------------
time			               mean_phone		       mean_website
2015-12-03T22:30:00Z	 4.318181818181818	 9.254545454545454
2015-12-03T23:00:00Z	 4.266666666666667	 9.827777777777778
2015-12-03T23:30:00Z	 4.766666666666667	 9.677777777777777
2015-12-04T00:00:00Z	 4.405555555555556	 8.5
2015-12-04T00:30:00Z	 4.788888888888889	 9.383333333333333

Notice that the timestamps in downsampled_orders occur at 30 minute intervals and that the measurement has timestamps that are older than those in the orders measurement. The data in downsampled_orders aren’t subject to the two_hours RP.

Note: You must specify the RP in your query to select data that are subject to an RP other than the DEFAULT RP. In the second SELECT statement, we get the CQ results by fully qualifying the measurement. To fully qualify a measurement, specify its database and RP with <database_name>."<retention_policy>".<measurement_name>.

Using a combination of RPs and CQs, we’ve made InfluxDB automatically downsample data and expire old data. Now that you have a general understanding of how these features can work together, we recommend looking at the detailed documentation on CQs (Continuous Query Syntax and Configuring Continuous Queries) and RPs to see all that they can do for you.

1: By default, InfluxDB checks to enforce an RP every 30 minutes so you may have data that are older than two hours between checks. The rate at which InfluxDB checks to enforce an RP is a configurable setting, see Database Configuration.