File Store

For a higher level of message delivery, the server should be configured with a file store. NATS Streaming Server comes with a basic file store implementation. Various file store implementations may be added in the future.

To start the server with a file store, you need to provide two parameters:

nats-streaming-server -store file -dir datastore

The parameter -store indicates what type of store to use, in this case file. The other (-dir) indicates in which directory the state should be stored.

The first time the server is started, it will create two files in this directory, one containing some server related information (server.dat) another to record clients information (clients.dat).

When a streaming client connects, it uses a client identification, which the server registers in this file. When the client disconnects, the client is cleared from this file.

When the client publishes or subscribe to a new subject (also called channel), the server creates a sub-directory whose name is the subject. For instance, if the client subscribes to foo, and assuming that you started the server with -dir datastore, then you will find a directory called datastore/foo. In this directory you will find several files: one to record subscriptions information (subs.dat), and a series of files that logs the messages msgs.1.dat, etc...

The number of sub-directories, which again correspond to channels, can be limited by the configuration parameter -max_channels. When the limit is reached, any new subscription or message published on a new channel will produce an error.

On a given channel, the number of subscriptions can also be limited with the configuration parameter -max_subs. A client that tries to create a subscription on a given channel (subject) for which the limit is reached will receive an error.

Finally, the number of stored messages for a given channel can also be limited with the parameter -max_msgs and/or -max_bytes. However, for messages, the client does not get an error when the limit is reached. The oldest messages are discarded to make room for the new messages.


As described in the Configuring section, there are several options that you can use to configure a file store.

Regardless of channel limits, you can configure message logs to be split in individual files (called file slices). You can configure those slices by number of messages it can contain (--file_slice_max_msgs), the size of the file - including the corresponding index file (--file_slice_max_bytes), or the period of time that a file slice should cover - starting at the time the first message is stored in that slice (--file_slice_max_age). The default file store options are defined such that only the slice size is configured to 64MB.

Note: If you don't configure any slice limit but you do configure channel limits, then the server will automatically set some limits for file slices.

When messages accumulate in a channel, and limits are reached, older messages are removed. When the first file slice becomes empty, the server removes this file slice (and corresponding index file).

However, if you specify a script (--file_slice_archive_script), then the server will rename the slice files (data and index) with a .bak extension and invoke the script with the channel name, data and index file names. The files are left in the channel's directory and therefore it is the script responsibility to delete those files when done. At any rate, those files will not be recovered on a server restart, but having lots of unused files in the directory may slow down the server restart.

For instance, suppose the server is about to delete file slice datastore/foo/msgs.1.dat (and datastore/foo/msgs.1.idx), and you have configured the script /home/nats-streaming/ The server will invoke:

/home/nats-streaming/ foo datastore/foo/msgs.1.dat.bak datastore/foo/msgs.2.idx.bak

Notice how the files have been renamed with the .bak extension so that they are not going to be recovered if the script leave those files in place.

As previously described, each channel corresponds to a sub-directory that contains several files. It means that the need for file descriptors increase with the number of channels. In order to scale to ten or hundred thousands of channels, the option fds_limit (or command line parameter --file_fds_limit) may be considered to limit the total use of file descriptors.

Note that this is a soft limit. It is possible for the store to use more file descriptors than the given limit if the number of concurrent read/writes to different channels is more than the said limit. It is also understood that this may affect performance since files may need to be closed/re-opened as needed.

Recovery Errors

We have added the ability for the server to truncate any file that may otherwise report an unexpected EOF error during the recovery process.

Since dataloss is likely to occur, the default behavior for the server on startup is to report recovery error and stop. It will now print the content of the first corrupted record before exiting.

With the -file_truncate_bad_eof parameter, the server will still print those bad records but truncate each file at the position of the first corrupted record in order to successfully start.

To prevent the use of this parameter as the default value, this option is not available in the configuration file. Moreover, the server will fail to start if started more than once with that parameter. This flag may help recover from a store failure, but since data may be lost in that process, we think that the operator needs to be aware and make an informed decision.

Note that this flag will not help with file corruption due to bad CRC for instance. You have the option to disable CRC on recovery with the -file_crc=false option.

Let's review the impact and suggested steps for each of the server's corrupted files:

  • server.dat: This file contains meta data and NATS subjects used to communicate with client applications. If a corruption is reported with this file, we would suggest that you stop all your clients, stop the server, remove this file, restart the server. This will create a new server.dat file, but will not attempt to recover the rest of the channels because the server assumes that there is no state. So you should stop and restart the server once more. Then, you can restart all your clients.

  • clients.dat: This contains information about client connections. If the file is truncated to move past an unexpected EOF error, this can result in no issue at all, or in client connections not being recovered, which means that the server will not know about possible running clients, and therefore it will not try to deliver any message to those non recovered clients, or reject incoming published messages from those clients. It is also possible that the server recovers a client connection that was actually closed. In this case, the server may attempt to deliver or redeliver messages unnecessarily.

  • subs.dat: This is a channel's subscriptions file (under the channel's directory). If this file is truncated and some records are lost, it may result in no issue at all, or in client applications not receiving their messages since the server will not know about them. It is also possible that acknowledged messages get redelivered (since their ack may have been lost).

  • msgs.<n>.dat: This is a channel's message log (several per channel). If one of those files is truncated, then message loss occurs. With the unexpected EOF errors, it is likely that only the last "file slice" of a channel will be affected. Nevertheless, if a lower sequence file slice is truncated, then gaps in message sequence will occur. So it would be possible for a channel to have now messages 1..100, 110..300 for instance, with messages 101 to 109 missing. Again, this is unlikely since we expect the unexpected end-of-file errors to occur on the last slice.

For Clustered mode, this flag would work only for the NATS Streaming specific store files. As you know, NATS Streaming uses RAFT for consensus, and RAFT uses its own logs. You could try the option if the server reports unexpected EOF errors for NATS Streaming file stores, however, you may want to simply delete all NATS Streaming and RAFT stores for the failed node and restart it. By design, the other nodes in the cluster have replicated the data, so this node will become a follower and catchup with the rest of the cluster, getting the data from the current leader and recreating its local stores.