How to Monitor Transaction Logs in ClickHouse

Introduction

In ClickHouse, transaction logs are implemented as a set of write-ahead logs (WALs) that are used to ensure durability and consistency of data in case of system failures or crashes. The WALs contain a sequential record of all changes made to the database, including inserts, updates, and deletes, in the order they were made.

When a write operation is performed on a ClickHouse table, the changes are first written to the WALs before being committed to the database. This ensures that the changes are safely persisted on disk before they are applied to the database. If the system crashes or fails during the write operation, the WALs can be used to recover the changes and bring the database back to a consistent state.

ClickHouse uses a technique called log-structured merge trees (LSM trees) to store the WALs and perform efficient read and write operations. LSM trees are similar to B-trees, but they are optimized for write-heavy workloads, such as those found in data warehousing and analytics. LSM trees are comprised of multiple levels, with each level containing a sorted list of keys and values. As new data is written to the tree, it is added to the lowest level. When a level becomes full, its contents are merged with the next level up, and so on, until the data reaches the highest level.

ClickHouse uses a separate WAL for each shard of a distributed table, and the WALs are replicated across multiple nodes for durability and availability. ClickHouse also uses a technique called automatic merging to periodically merge the WALs with the table data, ensuring that the table remains consistent and optimized for query performance.

Overall, the use of WALs and LSM trees allows ClickHouse to provide durable, consistent, and efficient write operations, even in the face of system failures or crashes. By leveraging these techniques, ClickHouse can deliver high-performance data warehousing and analytics capabilities with robust transaction management and data recovery capabilities.

Monitoring ClickHouse Transaction Logs

In ClickHouse, you can monitor transaction log activity using the system.events table. This table contains a record of all events that have occurred in the database, including write operations, query executions, and other system events.

To monitor transaction log activity specifically, you can use the following SQL query:

SELECT *
FROM system.events
WHERE type = 'mutation'
ORDER BY event_time DESC
LIMIT 100

This query will return the 100 most recent mutation events from the transaction log, sorted by event time in descending order. Mutation events correspond to write operations, such as inserts, updates, and deletes, and are the primary type of event recorded in the transaction log.

The system.events table contains several columns that provide additional information about each event, including the event type (type), the event time (event_time), the table affected by the event (database and table), and the user who performed the event (user).

Conclusion

By monitoring transaction log activity using the system.events table, you can gain insight into the performance and behavior of your database, as well as troubleshoot issues related to data consistency and recovery.

To read more about ClickHouse internals, do consider reading the below articles

About Shiv Iyer 227 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.