Yes, Elasticsearch utilizes both memory (RAM) and disk storage to manage data.
Elasticsearch is a distributed, RESTful search and analytics engine capable of solving a growing number of use cases. To provide fast access and retrieval, Elasticsearch stores some information in the system's memory.
However, it's important to note that while Elasticsearch uses RAM for certain operations, it does not store all data in memory like an in-memory database. Instead, it relies on a combination of both memory and disk storage.
The main components of Elasticsearch that use memory are:
File System Cache: This cache is managed by the operating system (not directly by Elasticsearch), which keeps frequently accessed files in memory for quicker access.
Node Query Cache: On each node, this cache stores the results of queries that are being frequently used. It allows faster response time when the same query is run again.
Shard Request Cache: This cache on each shard stores the local aggregations or computed 'buckets' of a query. If the same aggregation is requested again, it can be returned from this cache instead of recalculating it.
Field data cache / doc values: When sorting or aggregating based on a field, Elasticsearch loads the field's values into memory, this structure is called filed data. Doc values are the on-disk equivalent of field data.
While memory usage in Elasticsearch is critical for performance, the actual data is stored in an index on disk. So, if an Elasticsearch node is restarted, it doesn't lose any data because it's persisted on disk.
To ensure optimal performance, it is recommended to keep your working set (frequently accessed data) fitting into memory. Too much reliance on disk can negatively impact the speed and efficiency of Elasticsearch operations.