Managing Sharding

Sharding breaks files into smaller pieces so that they can be distributed across the bricks that comprise a volume. This is enabled on a per-volume basis.

When sharding is enabled, files written to a volume are divided into pieces. The size of the pieces depends on the value of the volume’s features.shard-block-size parameter. The first piece is written to a brick and given a GFID like a normal file. Subsequent pieces are distributed evenly between bricks in the volume (sharded bricks are distributed by default), but they are written to that brick’s .shard directory, and are named with the GFID and a number indicating the order of the pieces. For example, if a file is split into four pieces, the first piece is named GFID and stored normally. The other three pieces are named GFID.1, GFID.2, and GFID.3 respectively. They are placed in the .shard directory and distributed evenly between the various bricks in the volume.

Because sharding distributes files across the bricks in a volume, it lets you store files with a larger aggregate size than any individual brick in the volume. Because the file pieces are smaller, heal operations are faster, and geo-replicated deployments can sync the small pieces of a file that have changed, rather than syncing the entire aggregate file.

Sharding also lets you increase volume capacity by adding bricks to a volume in an ad-hoc fashion.

Supported use cases

As of GlusterFS 3.1 Update 3, sharding has one supported use case: in the context of providing GlusterFS as a storage domain for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, to provide storage for live virtual machine images. Note that sharding is also a requirement for this use case, as it provides significant performance improvements over previous implementations.


Quotas are not compatible with sharding.


Sharding is supported in new deployments only, as there is currently no upgrade path for this feature.

Before you start your volume, enable sharding on the volume.

# gluster volume set test-volume features.shard enable

Start the volume and ensure it is working as expected.

# gluster volume test-volume start
# gluster volume info test-volume

Configuration Options

Sharding is enabled and configured at the volume level. The configuration options are as follows.


Enables or disables sharding on a specified volume. Valid values are enable and disable. The default value is disable. +

# gluster volume set volname features.shard enable
  Note that this only affects files created after this command is run;
  files created before this command is run retain their old behaviour.
  Specifies the maximum size of the file pieces when sharding is
  enabled. The supported value for this parameter is 512MB.
# gluster volume set volname features.shard-block-size 32MB
Note that this only affects files created after this command is run;
files created before this command is run retain their old behaviour.

Finding the pieces of a sharded file

When you enable sharding, you might want to check that it is working correctly, or see how a particular file has been sharded across your volume.

To find the pieces of a file, you need to know that file’s GFID. To obtain a file’s GFID, run:

# getfattr -d -m. -e hex path_to_file

Once you have the GFID, you can run the following command on your bricks to see how this file has been distributed:

# ls /bricks/*/.shard -lh | grep GFID

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