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Recompressing archival node storage

The nearcore 1.26.0 release introduces various improvements to node’s storage layer. Among better performance, the changes result in significant reduction of the storage on archival nodes: from 7.7 TB to 3.8 TB on mainnet and from 3.6 TB to 1.7 TB on testnet.

However, to take full advantage of the savings, some manual steps need to be taken. This document describes those steps. Note that if you’re not running an archival node, you don’t need to do anything.

One of the improvements is changing of the compression algorithm used by the databases. Because of that, the whole process is referred to as ‘recompressing the storage’.

Downloading recompressed snapshot

Rather than performing the recompression, an easier way of getting benefits of the storage optimisation is to download a new node data snapshots. This option is available for mainnet and testnet chains alike.

If you’ve started a new archival node from a backup on 2022-06-10 or later, your node is already running with recompressed storage and you don’t need to take any further actions.

Performing the operation

The recompression can be performed at any time. That is, it doesn’t need to happen directly after the node upgrade. In fact, it might be better to schedule it some number of days after binary upgrade. Such delay gives time to make sure that the binary release works correctly before introducing another change.

Required free space

Recompressing storage works by creating a new database. As a result, it requires noticeable amount of free disk space. Specifically 4 TB for mainnet and 2 TB for testnet archival nodes.

If your host does not have enough free space you will need to resize one of the existing partitions (if you are running in the cloud and can resize disks freely) or temporarily attach a new disk.

At the end of the process it will be possible to delete the old database freeing a lot of space. Note however that while increasing disk size in the cloud is often a simple operation, shrinking it might be more complicated. You need to plan accordingly based on your node’s setup.

Stopping the node

While the recompression takes place the database cannot be modified. In other words, the node needs to be shut down. The operation takes around twelve hours on mainnet and six hours on testnet. If you require a continuous access to an archival node, you will need to set up a redundant node if one is not already available.

Procedure for stopping a node depends on configuration of your system. For example, if neard is run as a systemd service, the command to stop it might look like:

$ sudo systemctl stop neard.service

Executing the recompression

The recompression is done by executing recompress-storage command of neard binary. If the command is interrupted the whole operation needs to be run from scratch. Because of that, it’s best to run it inside of a screen or tmux session or through nohup utility. For example:

$ NEAR_HOME=$HOME/.near  # change to point to near home directory
$ export NEAR_HOME

$ screen
$ # Inside of screen session:
$ neard recompress-storage --output-dir="${NEAR_HOME:?}/"

Once recompression finishes successfully, the new database needs to be put in place of the old one. This is simply done by renaming the directory:

$ NEAR_HOME=$HOME/.near  # change to point to near home directory
$ export NEAR_HOME

$ mv -- "${NEAR_HOME:?}/data" "${NEAR_HOME:?}/data.bak"
$ mv -- "${NEAR_HOME:?}/" "${NEAR_HOME:?}/data"

The data.bak backup might be worth keeping at least until verification described in the next section is completed. If the verification fails, it will be easy to recover database prior to recompression. Otherwise data.bak can be deleted.

Disk size considerations

As mentioned above, the operation requires up to 4 TB of free disk space. The above commands assume that near home directory has it but if it doesn’t you will have to write new database in a different location adjusting --output-dir flag accordingly.

For example, if the archival node is running in cloud environment an easy way could be to create a new disk and mount it under a new location, e.g. /mnt. This could look something like:

$ NEAR_HOME=$HOME/.near  # change to point to near home directory
$ export NEAR_HOME

$ # After attaching new disk to the virtual machine; e.g. at /dev/sdx:
$ dev=/dev/sdx

$ sudo mkfs.ext4 "${dev:?}"
$ sudo mount "${dev:?}" /mnt
$ sudo chown -R $USER /mnt
$ neard recompress-storage --output-dir=/mnt/data
$ # ... recompress comences ...

$ rm -rf -- "${NEAR_HOME:?}/data"
$ cp -R -- /mnt/data "${NEAR_HOME:?}"
$ sudo umount /mnt

If you’re using a different configuration with a separate disk mounted at ~/.near directory, copying is not necessary and can be handled by swapping the mount points. Note that in this instance the new disk needs to be an SSD.

$ cp ~/.near/*.json /mnt
$ sudo umount ~/.near
$ sudo umount /mnt
$ sudo mount "${dev:?}" ~/.near

The details will depend on the configuration of the system you’re using.


At this point it is possible to start the archival node again. However, we recommend performing sanity checks on the new database before doing that. This can be done with help of view-state command as follows:

$ NEAR_HOME=$HOME/.near  # change to point to near home directory
$ export NEAR_HOME

$ head=$(neard view-state view-chain |
sed -ne 's/ *height: *\([0-9]*\),$/\1/p')
$ test -n "$head" || echo 'Unable to read chain head'
$ echo TIP: "$head"
TIP: 63870907

$ start=$((head - 1000))
$ neard view-state apply-range --start-index=$start --shard-id=0
$ neard view-state apply-range --start-index=$start --shard-id=1
$ neard view-state apply-range --start-index=$start --shard-id=2
$ neard view-state apply-range --start-index=$start --shard-id=3

If the commands report no errors or differences, it’s safe to start the node again. This verification should take around 15 minutes.

What has been changed

The 1.26.0 release introduced three main changes which reduced size of the storage.

Firstly, we’ve incorporated Zstandard (zstd) compression algorithm which by itself reduces size of the database by around a quarter. However, normally existing data remains intact unless it’s changed or compacted. Since RPC nodes rewrite most of the storage every five epochs, their database will be recompressed after two and a half days. On the other hand, archival nodes benefit from it being done manually since otherwise the size reduction would take a long time to present itself.

Secondly, we’ve started garbage collecting partial encoded chunks on archival nodes. RPC nodes already garbage collected that data so this change doesn’t affect them. The encoded chunks are needed when other nodes sync their state but can be reconstructed from other objects in the database. They constitute around a quarter of the database’s size thus garbage collecting them results in a big reduction in storage size at the cost of slight computation increase when node sends old blocks to other archival nodes which attempt to sync their state.

Thirdly, we’ve stopped generating trie changes on archival nodes. Those objects are needed on RPC nodes but can be omitted on archival nodes. They accounted for around a quarter of the database’s size.

Do I need to do anything?

You don’t need to do anything if you’re running an RPC node or if you don’t care about storage cost. If you have SSD disk space laying around you may continue running your node without performing the recompression.

Note also that if you are operating an archival node but are worried about scheduling (e.g. you’re busy dealing with other issues and thus have no time to deal with neard database changes) you can postpone the recompression.