redis upgrade from 2.2 to 2.8 (and beyond)

what initially started as a trivial task quickly turned into a test of patience and debugging. currently, i am still in a step of debugging.

to start with upgrading, i wanted to reuse the redis config we had previously trying to keep things as close to what was in production as possible. there were a few settings that had become deprecated, so i removed them.

first deployment

we deployed the upgraded redis and immiately saw problems.

we have five redis servers in production (redis0, …, redis4). after upgrading, the issues we observed were seeing waves of exceptions. things would run fine, then after a little bit, everything would not. this would repeat.

first thing i looked into was memory usage. when we upgraded, we had to trim some settings out of the configuration file since they were deprecated. the first time around, we cut out all the virtual memory settings.

so to test this hypothesis, i had set up a redis server with the same config and bombarded it with requests. redis, by default, will try to use up all the available memory. this is good and bad. it is good in that all your resources are used, it is bad in that too many are used.

when redis would fork to write the snapshot to the disk, it would begin swapping because there was no memory available. this was surely the problem. i saw the same waves of exceptions and easily enough there is a setting in redis called maxmemory which limits the amount of memory redis will allocate.

there were no more waves of exceptions that i observed in testing anymore.

second deployment

take two. deployed the updated redis config. instead of seeing waves of exceptions, i was now seeing waves of lag. large amounts of lag.

a small utility i had set up would time itself performing 1000 operations against redis. typically this takes about 100-300 ms. after deployment, this would have surges up to 10000 ms.

commence head banging.


i found a way to effectively stress a redis server in the office and enabled latency monitoring as well as enabling a slowlog. coupling with the poormansprofiler, i am getting a little closer to figuring out what is going on.

it seems that whenever the redis server hangs/blocks/waits a little too long, it dumps all the connections when it returns. this can easily be seen by doing somethign like kill -STOP $pid; sleep 2; kill -CONT $pid. so any time there is a long blocking operation, all the connections get dumped. as to why they get dumped, that seems to be more of a redis internals issue possibly worth looking into. but the bigger issue is to not have long blocking operations to begin with.

a few places we could experience long blocking operations are key expiration and evictions, also during forking and writing to the disk. there are ways to mitigate the effects of these.


before trying to optimize, i wanted to compare the currently running version, 2.2.8. so i started it up with the config we typically use in production.

its performance was abismal on the machine i tested it with. i found this to be really frustrating.


i’ll continue to post updates. but for now, i think the plan is to continue with testing the new version and optimizing it as best i can.

eventually, i’ll need to just plan to test either on site b or even do live testing in production.

more updates

one thing i have learned recently that was surprising was that, due to redis’ single-threaded nature, it is possible for both redis and processing network input can end up on the same core. if this happens, then things can get abismally slow. i am going to test this.