ArangoDB Server Query Options

Limiting query runtime

Introduced in: v3.6.7, v3.7.3

--query.max-runtime value

Sets a default maximum runtime for AQL queries.

The default value is 0, meaning that the runtime of AQL queries is not limited. Setting it to any positive value will restrict the runtime of all AQL queries, unless it is overwritten in the per-query maxRuntime query option.

If a query exceeds the configured runtime, it will be killed on the next occasion when the query checks its own status. Killing is best effort based, so it is not guaranteed that a query will no longer than exactly the configured amount of time.

Setting this option will affect all queries in all databases, and also queries issues for administration and database-internal purposes.

Limiting memory usage of AQL queries

--query.memory-limit value

The default maximum amount of memory (in bytes) that a single AQL query can use. When a single AQL query reaches the specified limit value, the query will be aborted with a resource limit exceeded exception. In a cluster, the memory accounting is done per server, so the limit value is effectively a memory limit per query per server.

Some operations, namely calls to AQL functions and their intermediate results, are currently not properly tracked. This may change in future versions.

The per-query limit value can be overridden per query by setting the memoryLimit option value for individual queries when running them. Overriding the per-query limit value is only possible if the --query.memory-limit-override option is set to true.

The default per-query memory limit value in ArangoDB 3.8 depends on the amount of available RAM. In previous versions of ArangoDB, the default value was 0, meaning “unlimited”.

The default values in 3.8 are:

Available memory:            0      (0MiB)  Limit:            0   unlimited, %mem:  n/a
Available memory:    134217728    (128MiB)  Limit:     33554432     (32MiB), %mem: 25.0
Available memory:    268435456    (256MiB)  Limit:     67108864     (64MiB), %mem: 25.0
Available memory:    536870912    (512MiB)  Limit:    201326592    (192MiB), %mem: 37.5
Available memory:    805306368    (768MiB)  Limit:    402653184    (384MiB), %mem: 50.0
Available memory:   1073741824   (1024MiB)  Limit:    603979776    (576MiB), %mem: 56.2
Available memory:   2147483648   (2048MiB)  Limit:   1288490189   (1228MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory:   4294967296   (4096MiB)  Limit:   2576980377   (2457MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory:   8589934592   (8192MiB)  Limit:   5153960755   (4915MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory:  17179869184  (16384MiB)  Limit:  10307921511   (9830MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory:  25769803776  (24576MiB)  Limit:  15461882265  (14745MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory:  34359738368  (32768MiB)  Limit:  20615843021  (19660MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory:  42949672960  (40960MiB)  Limit:  25769803776  (24576MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory:  68719476736  (65536MiB)  Limit:  41231686041  (39321MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory: 103079215104  (98304MiB)  Limit:  61847529063  (58982MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory: 137438953472 (131072MiB)  Limit:  82463372083  (78643MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory: 274877906944 (262144MiB)  Limit: 164926744167 (157286MiB), %mem: 60.0
Available memory: 549755813888 (524288MiB)  Limit: 329853488333 (314572MiB), %mem: 60.0

It is possible to set a global memory limit for the total memory used by all AQL queries that currently execute via the option

From ArangoDB 3.8 on, the per-query memory tracking has a granularity of 32 KB chunks. That means checking for memory limits such as “1” (e.g. for testing) may not make a query fail, if the total memory allocations in the query will not exceed 32 KB. The effective lowest memory limit value that can be enforced is thus 32 KB. Memory limit values higher than 32 KB will be checked whenever the total memory allocations cross a 32 KB boundary.

--query.memory-limit-override value

Introduced in: v3.8.0

This option can be used to control whether individual AQL queries can increase their memory limit via the memoryLimit query option. This is the default, so a query that increases its memory limit is allowed to use more memory than set via the --query.memory-limit startup option value.

If the option is set to false, individual queries can only lower their maximum allowed memory usage but not increase it. value

Introduced in: v3.8.0

The startup option can be used set a limit on the combined estimated memory usage of all AQL queries (in bytes). If this option has a value of 0, then no global memory limit is in place. This is also the default value and the same behavior as in previous versions of ArangoDB.

Setting the option to a value greater than zero will mean that the total memory usage of all AQL queries will be limited approximately to the configured value. The limit is enforced by each server in a cluster independently, i.e. it can be set separately for Coordinators, DB-Servers etc. The memory usage of a query that runs on multiple servers in parallel is not summed up, but tracked separately on each server.

If a memory allocation in a query would lead to the violation of the configured global memory limit, then the query is aborted with error code 32 (“resource limit exceeded”).

The global memory limit is approximate, in the same fashion as the per-query memory limit exposed by the option --query.memory-limit is. The global memory tracking has a granularity of 32 KB chunks.

If both and --query.memory-limit are set, the former must be set at least as high as the latter.

Turning AQL warnings into errors value

When set to true, AQL queries that produce warnings will instantly abort and throw an exception. This option can be set to catch obvious issues with AQL queries early. When set to false, AQL queries that produce warnings will not abort and return the warnings along with the query results. The option can also be overridden for each individual AQL query.

Requiring WITH statements

Introduced in: v3.7.12

--query.require-with value

When set to true, AQL queries in single server mode will also require WITH clauses in AQL queries where a cluster installation would require them. The option is set to false by default, but can be turned on in single servers to remove this behavior difference between single servers and clusters, making a later transition from single server to cluster easier.

Allowing the usage of collection names in AQL expressions

Introduced in: v3.8.0
Deprecated in: v3.9.0

--query.allow-collections-in-expressions value

When set to true, using collection names in arbitrary places in AQL expressions is allowed, although using collection names like this is very likely unintended.

For example, consider the query

FOR doc IN collection RETURN collection

Here, the collection name is collection, and its usage in the FOR loop is intended and valid. However, collection is also used in the RETURN statement, which is legal but potentially unintended. It should likely be RETURN doc or RETURN doc.someAttribute instead. Otherwise, the entire collection will be materialized and returned as many times as there are documents in the collection. This can take a long time and even lead to out-of-memory crashes in the worst case.

Setting the option --query.allow-collections-in-expression to false will prohibit such unintentional usage of collection names in queries, and instead make the query fail with error 1568 (“collection used as expression operand”).

The default value of the option was true in v3.8, meaning that potentially unintended usage of collection names in queries were still allowed. In v3.9 the default value changes to false. The option is also deprecated from 3.9.0 on and will be removed in future versions. From then on, unintended usage of collection names will always be disallowed.

Enable/disable AQL query tracking

--query.tracking flag

If true, the server’s AQL slow query tracking feature will be enabled by default. Tracking of queries can be disabled by setting the option to false.

The default is true.

Enable/disable tracking of bind variables in AQL queries

--query.tracking-with-bindvars flag

If true, then the bind variables will be tracked and shown for all running and slow AQL queries. When set to true, this will also enable the display of bind variable values in the list of cached AQL query results. This option only has an effect if --query.tracking was set to true or when the query results cache is used. Tracking and displaying bind variable values can be disabled by setting the option to false.

The default is true.

Threshold for slow AQL queries

--query.slow-threshold value

By setting value it can be controlled after what execution time an AQL query is considered “slow”. Any slow queries that exceed the execution time specified in value will be logged when they are finished. The threshold value is specified in seconds. Tracking of slow queries can be turned off entirely by setting the option --query.tracking to false.

The default value is 10.0.

--query.slow-streaming-threshold value

By setting value it can be controlled after what execution time streaming AQL queries are considered “slow”. This option exists to give streaming queries a separate, potentially higher timeout value than regular queries. Streaming queries are often executed in lockstep with application data processing logic, which then also accounts for the queries’ runtime. It is thus not unexpected if streaming queries’ lifetime is longer than the one of regular queries.

The default value is 10.0.

Limiting the number of query execution plans created by the AQL optimizer

--query.optimizer-max-plans value

By setting value it can be controlled how many different query execution plans the AQL query optimizer will generate at most for any given AQL query. Normally the AQL query optimizer will generate a single execution plan per AQL query, but there are some cases in which it creates multiple competing plans. More plans can lead to better optimized queries, however, plan creation has its costs. The more plans are created and shipped through the optimization pipeline, the more time will be spent in the optimizer. Lowering value will make the optimizer stop creating additional plans when it has already created enough plans. Note that this setting controls the default maximum number of plans to create. The value can still be adjusted on a per-query basis by setting the maxNumberOfPlans attribute when running a query.

The default value is 128.

Optimizer rule defaults


This option can be used to to selectively enable or disable AQL query optimizer rules by default. The option can be specified multiple times, and takes the same input as the query option of the same name.

For example, to turn off the rule use-indexes-for-sort by default, use

--query.optimizer-rules "-use-indexes-for-sort"

The purpose of this startup option is to be able to enable potential future experimental optimizer rules, which may be shipped in a disabled-by-default state.

AQL Query results caching mode


Toggles the AQL query results cache behavior. Possible values are:

  • off: do not use query results cache
  • on: always use query results cache, except for queries that have their cache attribute set to false
  • demand: use query results cache only for queries that have their cache attribute set to true

AQL Query results cache size


Maximum number of query results that can be stored per database-specific query results cache. If a query is eligible for caching and the number of items in the database’s query cache is equal to this threshold value, another cached query result will be removed from the cache.

This option only has an effect if the query cache mode is set to either on or demand.

The default value is 128.


Maximum cumulated size of query results that can be stored per database-specific query results cache. When inserting a query result into the query results cache, it is check if the total size of cached results would exceed this value, and if so, another cached query result will be removed from the cache before inserting a new one.

This option only has an effect if the query cache mode is set to either on or demand.

The default value is 256 MB.


Maximum size of individual query results that can be stored in any database’s query results cache. Query results are only eligible for caching when their size does not exceed this setting’s value.

The default value is 16 MB.


Whether or not to store results of queries that involve system collections in the query results cache. Not storing these results is normally beneficial when using the query results cache, as queries on system collections are internal to ArangoDB and will only use space in the query results cache unnecessarily.

The default value is false.