Chapter 15. Discarding unused blocks

You can perform or schedule discard operations on block devices that support them.

15.1. Block discard operations

Block discard operations discard blocks that are no longer in use by a mounted file system. They are useful on:

  • Solid-state drives (SSDs)
  • Thinly-provisioned storage

Requirements

The block device underlying the file system must support physical discard operations.

Physical discard operations are supported if the value in the /sys/block/device/queue/discard_max_bytes file is not zero.

15.2. Types of block discard operations

You can run discard operations using different methods:

Batch discard
Are run explicitly by the user. They discard all unused blocks in the selected file systems.
Online discard
Are specified at mount time. They run in real time without user intervention. Online discard operations discard only the blocks that are transitioning from used to free.
Periodic discard
Are batch operations that are run regularly by a systemd service.

All types are supported by the XFS and ext4 file systems and by VDO.

Recommendations

Red Hat recommends that you use batch or periodic discard.

Use online discard only if:

  • the system’s workload is such that batch discard is not feasible, or
  • online discard operations are necessary to maintain performance.

15.3. Performing batch block discard

This procedure performs a batch block discard operation to discard unused blocks on a mounted file system.

Prerequisites

  • The file system is mounted.
  • The block device underlying the file system supports physical discard operations.

Procedure

  • Use the fstrim utility:

    • To perform discard only on a selected file system, use:

      # fstrim mount-point
    • To perform discard on all mounted file systems, use:

      # fstrim --all

If you execute the fstrim command on:

  • a device that does not support discard operations, or
  • a logical device (LVM or MD) composed of multiple devices, where any one of the device does not support discard operations,

the following message displays:

# fstrim /mnt/non_discard

fstrim: /mnt/non_discard: the discard operation is not supported

Additional resources

  • The fstrim(8) man page

15.4. Enabling online block discard

This procedure enables online block discard operations that automatically discard unused blocks on all supported file systems.

Procedure

  • Enable online discard at mount time:

    • When mounting a file system manually, add the -o discard mount option:

      # mount -o discard device mount-point
    • When mounting a file system persistently, add the discard option to the mount entry in the /etc/fstab file.

Additional resources

  • The mount(8) man page
  • The fstab(5) man page

15.5. Enabling online block discard using RHEL System Roles

This section describes how to enable online block discard using the storage role.

Prerequisites

  • An Ansible playbook including the storage role exists.

For information on how to apply such a playbook, see Applying a role.

15.5.1. Example Ansible playbook to enable online block discard

This section provides an example Ansible playbook. This playbook applies the storage role to mount an XFS file system with online block discard enabled.

---
- hosts: all
  vars:
    storage_volumes:
      - name: barefs
        type: disk
        disks:
          - sdb
        fs_type: xfs
        mount_point: /mnt/data
        mount_options: discard
  roles:
    - rhel-system-roles.storage
Note

This playbook also performs all the operations of the persistent mount example described in Section 13.8.3.1, “Example Ansible playbook to persistently mount a file system”.

15.5.2. Additional resources

15.6. Enabling periodic block discard

This procedure enables a systemd timer that regularly discards unused blocks on all supported file systems.

Procedure

  • Enable and start the systemd timer:

    # systemctl enable --now fstrim.timer