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Organize your large log ingest

Once you've decided what logs to ingest and store, it's time to organize your logs. You're still likely ingesting hundreds of gigabytes or dozens of terabytes of logs. While it's a lot less than you originally had, you'll still have toil while trying to effectively use them.

To solve this, we'll group these remaining logs into thematic partitions and parse the logs to pull out and tag valuable attributes. By organizing your logs in this manner, you can:

  • Query for any attribute within your logs
  • Manage specific partitions at a time, such as front-end logs vs back-end logs
  • Reduce query load times

Why partition your logs

Seperating your logs into discrete partitions can improve performance and make your logs easier to manage.. For example, imagine you want to query for an attribute only found in front-end logs. Querying through 5 TB of logs it will take drastically longer than querying through a specific 1 TB partition of only front-end logs.

The goals of partitioning your data:

  • Create data partitions that align with concepts in your environment or organization that are static or change infrequently (for example, by business unit, team, environment, service, etc.).
  • Ensure each partition remains below 1 TB of daily ingest for optimal performance.

There are two types of retention for partitions. Choose Standard for maximimum retention; use this for valuable data you may want to query far in the future. Choose Secondary for 30-day retention; use this for less valuable data or for data you will only need in the near future.

Why parse logs

Parsing your logs at ingest is the best way to make your log data more usable by you and other users in your organization. For example, compare these two logs pre-parsing and post-parsing using a Grok parsing rule:


"message": "32 4329 store_Portland"


"transaction_total": "32",
"purchase_number": "4329",
"store_location": "store_Portland",

This allows you to easily query for newly defined attributes such as transaction_total in dashboards and alerts.

Organize your logs

Let's say ACME Corp knows they will ingest about 2 TBs of logs in the coming months. They want to create partitions for logs coming from their Java app and from their infrastructure agent. They think they may need to query their Java logs far into the future so they decide to use a standard retention. Meanwhile, they only need recent infrastructure logs so they will use secondary retention for those.

To do so:

Partition your logs

  1. From Manage data on the left nav, click Data partitions, then click Create partition rule.
  2. Define a partition name as an alphanumeric string that begins with Log_. In this case Log_java.
  3. Add an optional description.
  4. Select the standard namespace retention for the partition.
  5. Set your rule's matching criteria: Enter a valid NRQL WHERE clause to match the logs to store in this partition. In this case logtype=java.
  6. Click Create to save your new partition.

This creates a data partition with standard data retention for all Java logs. To organize your infrastruture logs, you would follow the same steps above, only changing the retention to secondary and query to logtype=infrastructure.

Parse your logs

Now that your logs are partitioned, it's time to parse them. Parsing them allows you to pull out releveant data within your logs for easier querying and accessability.

To parse your logs:

  1. From Manage Data on the left nav of the logs UI, click Parsing, then click Create parsing rule.
  2. Enter a name for the new parsing rule.
  3. Select an existing field to parse (the default is message), or enter a new field name.
  4. Enter a valid NRQL WHERE clause to match the logs you want to parse.
  5. Select a matching log if one exists, or click on the paste log tab to paste in a sample log.
  6. Enter the parsing rule and validate it's working by viewing the results in the Output section. (See example below)
  7. Enable and save the custom parsing rule.

The following example guides you through a specific example of creating a parsing rule:

For a more in-depth look at creating Grok patterns to parse logs, read our blog post.

What's next

Congratulations on uncovering the true value of your logs and saving your team hours of frustration with your logs! As your system grows and you ingest, you'll need to ensure an upkeep of parsing rules and partitions. If you're interested in diving deeper on what New Relic can do for you, check out these docs:

  • Parsing log data: A deeper look into parsing logs with Grok and learn how to create, query, and manage your log parsing rules by using NerdGraph, our GraphQL API.
  • Log patterns: Log patterns are the fastest way to discover value in log data without searching.
  • Log obfuscation: With log obfuscation rules, you can prevent certain types of information from being saved in New Relic.
  • Find data in long logs (blobs): Extensive log data can help you troubleshoot issues. But what if an attribute in your log contains thousands of characters? How much of this data can New Relic store? And how can you find useful information in all this data?

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