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Committed GC Internals

What gets collected

Because each object in lakeFS may be accessible from multiple branches, it might not be obvious which objects will be considered garbage and collected.

Garbage collection is configured by specifying the number of days to retain objects on each branch. If a branch is configured to retain objects for a given number of days, any object that was accessible from the HEAD of a branch in that past number of days will be retained.

The garbage collection process proceeds in three main phases:

  • Discover which commits will retain their objects. For every branch, the garbage collection job looks at the HEAD of the branch that many days ago; every commit at or since that HEAD must be retained.

    mermaid diagram

    Continuing the example, branch main retains for 21 days and branch dev for 7. When running GC on 2022-03-31:

    • 7 days ago, on 2022-03-24 the head of branch dev was d: 2022-03-23. So, that commit is retained (along with all more recent commits on dev) but all older commits d: * will be collected.
    • 21 days ago, on 2022-03-10, the head of branch main was 2022-03-09. So that commit is retained (along with all more recent commits on main) but commits 2022-02-27 and 2022-03-01 will be collected.
  • Discover which objects need to be garbage collected. Hold (only) objects accessible on some retained commits.

    In the example, all objects of commit 2022-03-12, for instance, are retained. This includes objects added in previous commits. However, objects added in commit d: 2022-03-14 which were overwritten or deleted in commit d: 2022-03-20 are not visible in any retained commit and will be garbage collected.

  • Garbage collect those objects by deleting them. The data of any deleted object will no longer be accessible. lakeFS retains all metadata about the object, but attempting to read it via the lakeFS API or the S3 gateway will return HTTP status 410 (“Gone”).

What does not get collected

Some objects will not be collected regardless of configured GC rules:

  • Any object that is accessible from any branch’s HEAD.
  • Objects stored outside the repository’s storage namespace. For example, objects imported using the lakeFS import UI are not collected.
  • Uncommitted objects, see Uncommitted Garbage Collection,


Garbage collection reads many commits. It uses Spark to spread the load of reading the contents of all of these commits. For very large jobs running on very large clusters, you may want to tweak this load. To do this:

  • Add -c spark.hadoop.lakefs.gc.range.num_partitions=RANGE_PARTITIONS (default 50) to spread the initial load of reading commits across more Spark executors.
  • Add -c spark.hadoop.lakefs.gc.address.num_partitions=RANGE_PARTITIONS (default 200) to spread the load of reading all objects included in a commit across more Spark executors.

Normally this should not be needed.


Garbage collection communicates with the lakeFS server. Very large repositories may require increasing a read timeout. If you run into timeout errors during communication from the Spark job to lakeFS consider increasing these timeouts:

  • Add -c (default 10) to allow lakeFS more time to respond to requests.
  • Add -c spark.hadoop.lakefs.api.connection.timeout_seconds=TIMEOUT_IN_SECONDS (default 10) to wait longer for lakeFS to accept connections.