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Management Services

Nessie can and needs to manage several operations within your data lake. Each management service can be scheduled and Nessie reports the outcome of each scheduled operation. Scheduled operations require that Nessie have access to a Spark cluster to complete those operations and many of them are distributed compute operations.


Table management services are currently in progress and are not yet included in a released version of Nessie.

Garbage Collection

Since Nessie is maintaining many different versions of metadata and data-pointers simultaneously, you must rely on Nessie to clean up old data. Nessie calls this garbage collection.

Garbage collection policies are configurable and can be either destructive or instructive. To configure garbage collection, you must set the following settings:

Collection Types

Collection Modes Notes
Unreferenced Data Instructive or Destructive Deletes any objects that haven’t been directly referenced by a tag or branch for 30 days.
Unreferenced Commit Deletes internal Nessie objects that are no longer referenced Destructive
Unreferenced Metadata Deletes metadata objects that are no longer referenced1
Referenced Commit & Metadata Deletes historical commit information that is in a valid commit tree but older than a certain date


Because of the nature of data sizes, Nessie treats any historical commit as “unreferenced” if it is not directly referenced by a tag or branch. This is very different than traditional Git. If you want to also maintain historical versions of data beyond your garbage collection time, you should leverage Time-based AutoTagging (below).

Time-based AutoTagging

Nessie works against data based on a commit timeline. In many situations, it is useful to capture historical versions of data for analysis or comparison purposes. As such, you can configure Nessie to AutoTag (and auto-delete) using a timestamp based naming scheme. When enabled, Nessie will automatically generate and maintain tags based on time so that users can refer to historical data using timestamps as opposed to commits. This also works hand-in-hand with the Nessie garbage collection process by ensuring that older data is “referenced” and thus available for historical analysis.

Currently there is one AutoTagging policy. By default, it creates the following tags:

  • Hourly tags for the last 25 hours
  • Daily tags for the last 8 days
  • Weekly tags for the last 6 weeks
  • Monthly tags for the last 13 months
  • Yearly tags for the last 3 years

Tags are automatically named using a date/ prefix and a zero-extended underscore based naming scheme. For example: date/2019_09_07_15_50 would be a tag for August 7, 2019 at 3:50pm.


AutoTags are automatically deleted once the policy rolls-over. As such, if retention is desired post roll-over, manual tags should be created.

AutoTagging is currently done based on the UTC roll-over of each item.

Manifest Reorganization

Rewrites the manifests associated with a table so that manifest files are organized around partitions. This extends on the ideas in the Iceberg RewriteManifestsAction.


Manifest reorganization will show up as a commit, like any other table operation.

Key configuration parameters:

Name Default Meaning
effort medium How much rewriting is allowed to achieve the goals
target manifest size 8mb What is the target
partition priority medium How important achieving partition-oriented manifests.


Because operations against table formats are done at the file level, a table can start to generate many small files. These small files will slow consumption. As such, Nessie can automatically run jobs to compact tables to ensure a consistent level of performance.

Name Default Meaning
Maximum Small Files 10.0 Maximum number of small files as a ratio to large files
Maximum Delete Files 10.0 Maximum number of delete tombstones as a ratio to other files before merging the tombstones into a consolidated file
Small File Size 100mb Size of file before it is considered small
Target Rewrite Size 256mb The target size for splittable units when rewriting data.


Compaction will show up as a commit, like any other table operation.

  1. This operation is similar to the Remove Orphan Files iceberg operation.