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Cluster Setup

Tip For a single server setup, recommended for new users, please see Get Started page.

Understanding Dgraph cluster

Dgraph is a truly distributed graph database. It shards by predicate and replicates predicates across the cluster, queries can be run on any node and joins are handled over the distributed data. A query is resolved locally for predicates the node stores, and using distributed joins for predicates stored on other nodes.

To effectively running a Dgraph cluster, it’s important to understand how sharding, replication and rebalancing works.


Dgraph colocates data per predicate (* P *, in RDF terminology), thus the smallest unit of data is one predicate. To shard the graph, one or many predicates are assigned to a group. Each Alpha node in the cluster serves a single group. Dgraph Zero assigns a group to each Alpha node.

Shard rebalancing

Dgraph Zero tries to rebalance the cluster based on the disk usage in each group. If Zero detects an imbalance, it will try to move a predicate along with its indices to a group that has lower disk usage. This can make the predicate temporarily read-only. Queries for the predicate will still be serviced, but any mutations for the predicate will be rejected and should be retried after the move is finished.

Zero would continuously try to keep the amount of data on each server even, typically running this check on a 10-min frequency. Thus, each additional Dgraph Alpha instance would allow Zero to further split the predicates from groups and move them to the new node.

Consistent Replication

When starting Zero nodes, you can pass, to each one, the --replicas flag to assign the same group to multiple nodes. The number passed to the --replicas flag causes that Zero node to assign the same group to the specified number of nodes. These nodes will then form a Raft group (or quorum), and every write will be consistently replicated to the quorum.

To achieve consensus, it’s important that the size of quorum be an odd number. Therefore, we recommend setting --replicas to 1, 3 or 5 (not 2 or 4). This allows 0, 1, or 2 nodes serving the same group to be down, respectively, without affecting the overall health of that group.