Fast key-value DB in Go.

go get


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BadgerDB is an embeddable, persistent, simple and fast key-value (KV) database written in pure Go. It's meant to be a performant alternative to non-Go-based key-value stores like RocksDB.

Project Status

Badger v1.0 was released in Nov 2017. Check the Changelog for the full details.

We introduced transactions in v0.9.0 which involved a major API change. If you have a Badger datastore prior to that, please use v0.8.1, but we strongly urge you to upgrade. Upgrading from both v0.8 and v0.9 will require you to take backups and restore using the new version.

Table of Contents

Getting Started


To start using Badger, install Go 1.8 or above and run go get:

$ go get

This will retrieve the library and install the badger_info command line utility into your $GOBIN path.

Opening a database

The top-level object in Badger is a DB. It represents multiple files on disk in specific directories, which contain the data for a single database.

To open your database, use the badger.Open() function, with the appropriate options. The Dir and ValueDir options are mandatory and must be specified by the client. They can be set to the same value to simplify things.

package main

import (


func main() {
  // Open the Badger database located in the /tmp/badger directory.
  // It will be created if it doesn't exist.
  opts := badger.DefaultOptions
  opts.Dir = "/tmp/badger"
  opts.ValueDir = "/tmp/badger"
  db, err := badger.Open(opts)
  if err != nil {
  defer db.Close()
  // Your code here…

Please note that Badger obtains a lock on the directories so multiple processes cannot open the same database at the same time.


Read-only transactions

To start a read-only transaction, you can use the DB.View() method:

err := db.View(func(txn *badger.Txn) error {
  // Your code here…
  return nil

You cannot perform any writes or deletes within this transaction. Badger ensures that you get a consistent view of the database within this closure. Any writes that happen elsewhere after the transaction has started, will not be seen by calls made within the closure.

Read-write transactions

To start a read-write transaction, you can use the DB.Update() method:

err := db.Update(func(txn *badger.Txn) error {
  // Your code here…
  return nil

All database operations are allowed inside a read-write transaction.

Always check the returned error value. If you return an error within your closure it will be passed through.

An ErrConflict error will be reported in case of a conflict. Depending on the state of your application, you have the option to retry the operation if you receive this error.

An ErrTxnTooBig will be reported in case the number of pending writes/deletes in the transaction exceed a certain limit. In that case, it is best to commit the transaction and start a new transaction immediately. Here is an example (we are not checking for errors in some places for simplicity):

updates := make(map[string]string)
txn := db.NewTransaction(true)
for k,v := range updates {
  if err := txn.Set([]byte(k),[]byte(v)); err == ErrTxnTooBig {
    _ = txn.Commit()
    txn = db.NewTransaction(..)
    _ = txn.Set([]byte(k),[]byte(v))
_ = txn.Commit()

Managing transactions manually

The DB.View() and DB.Update() methods are wrappers around the DB.NewTransaction() and Txn.Commit() methods (or Txn.Discard() in case of read-only transactions). These helper methods will start the transaction, execute a function, and then safely discard your transaction if an error is returned. This is the recommended way to use Badger transactions.

However, sometimes you may want to manually create and commit your transactions. You can use the DB.NewTransaction() function directly, which takes in a boolean argument to specify whether a read-write transaction is required. For read-write transactions, it is necessary to call Txn.Commit() to ensure the transaction is committed. For read-only transactions, calling Txn.Discard() is sufficient. Txn.Commit() also calls Txn.Discard() internally to cleanup the transaction, so just calling Txn.Commit() is sufficient for read-write transaction. However, if your code doesn’t call Txn.Commit() for some reason (for e.g it returns prematurely with an error), then please make sure you call Txn.Discard() in a defer block. Refer to the code below.

// Start a writable transaction.
txn := db.NewTransaction(true)
defer txn.Discard()

// Use the transaction...
err := txn.Set([]byte("answer"), []byte("42"))
if err != nil {
    return err

// Commit the transaction and check for error.
if err := txn.Commit(nil); err != nil {
    return err

The first argument to DB.NewTransaction() is a boolean stating if the transaction should be writable.

Badger allows an optional callback to the Txn.Commit() method. Normally, the callback can be set to nil, and the method will return after all the writes have succeeded. However, if this callback is provided, the Txn.Commit() method returns as soon as it has checked for any conflicts. The actual writing to the disk happens asynchronously, and the callback is invoked once the writing has finished, or an error has occurred. This can improve the throughput of the application in some cases. But it also means that a transaction is not durable until the callback has been invoked with a nil error value.

Using key/value pairs

To save a key/value pair, use the Txn.Set() method:

err := db.Update(func(txn *badger.Txn) error {
  err := txn.Set([]byte("answer"), []byte("42"))
  return err

This will set the value of the "answer" key to "42". To retrieve this value, we can use the Txn.Get() method:

err := db.View(func(txn *badger.Txn) error {
  item, err := txn.Get([]byte("answer"))

  var valNot, valCopy []byte
  err := item.Value(func(val []byte) error {
    // This func with val would only be called if item.Value encounters no error.

    // Accessing val here is valid.
    fmt.Printf("The answer is: %s\n", val)

    // Copying or parsing val is valid.
    valCopy = append([]byte{}, val...)

    // Assigning val slice to another variable is NOT OK.
    valNot = val // Do not do this.
    return nil

  // DO NOT access val here. It is the most common cause of bugs.
  fmt.Printf("NEVER do this. %s\n", valNot)

  // You must copy it to use it outside item.Value(...).
  fmt.Printf("The answer is: %s\n", valCopy)

  // Alternatively, you could also use item.ValueCopy().
  valCopy, err = item.ValueCopy(nil)
  fmt.Printf("The answer is: %s\n", valCopy)

  return nil

Txn.Get() returns ErrKeyNotFound if the value is not found.

Please note that values returned from Get() are only valid while the transaction is open. If you need to use a value outside of the transaction then you must use copy() to copy it to another byte slice.

Use the Txn.Delete() method to delete a key.

Monotonically increasing integers

To get unique monotonically increasing integers with strong durability, you can use the DB.GetSequence method. This method returns a Sequence object, which is thread-safe and can be used concurrently via various goroutines.

Badger would lease a range of integers to hand out from memory, with the bandwidth provided to DB.GetSequence. The frequency at which disk writes are done is determined by this lease bandwidth and the frequency of Next invocations. Setting a bandwith too low would do more disk writes, setting it too high would result in wasted integers if Badger is closed or crashes. To avoid wasted integers, call Release before closing Badger.

seq, err := db.GetSequence(key, 1000)
defer seq.Release()
for {
  num, err := seq.Next()

Merge Operations

Badger provides support for unordered merge operations. You can define a func of type MergeFunc which takes in an existing value, and a value to be merged with it. It returns a new value which is the result of the merge operation. All values are specified in byte arrays. For e.g., here is a merge function (add) which adds a uint64 value to an existing uint64 value.

func uint64ToBytes(i uint64) []byte {
  var buf [8]byte
  binary.BigEndian.PutUint64(buf[:], i)
  return buf[:]

func bytesToUint64(b []byte) uint64 {
  return binary.BigEndian.Uint64(b)

// Merge function to add two uint64 numbers
func add(existing, new []byte) []byte {
  return uint64ToBytes(bytesToUint64(existing) + bytesToUint64(new))

This function can then be passed to the DB.GetMergeOperator() method, along with a key, and a duration value. The duration specifies how often the merge function is run on values that have been added using the MergeOperator.Add() method.

MergeOperator.Get() method can be used to retrieve the cumulative value of the key associated with the merge operation.

key := []byte("merge")
m := db.GetMergeOperator(key, add, 200*time.Millisecond)
defer m.Stop()


res, err := m.Get() // res should have value 6 encoded

Setting Time To Live(TTL) and User Metadata on Keys

Badger allows setting an optional Time to Live (TTL) value on keys. Once the TTL has elapsed, the key will no longer be retrievable and will be eligible for garbage collection. A TTL can be set as a time.Duration value using the Txn.SetWithTTL() API method.

An optional user metadata value can be set on each key. A user metadata value is represented by a single byte. It can be used to set certain bits along with the key to aid in interpreting or decoding the key-value pair. User metadata can be set using the Txn.SetWithMeta() API method.

Txn.SetEntry() can be used to set the key, value, user metatadata and TTL, all at once.

Iterating over keys

To iterate over keys, we can use an Iterator, which can be obtained using the Txn.NewIterator() method. Iteration happens in byte-wise lexicographical sorting order.

err := db.View(func(txn *badger.Txn) error {
  opts := badger.DefaultIteratorOptions
  opts.PrefetchSize = 10
  it := txn.NewIterator(opts)
  defer it.Close()
  for it.Rewind(); it.Valid(); it.Next() {
    item := it.Item()
    k := item.Key()
    err := item.Value(func(v []byte) error {
      fmt.Printf("key=%s, value=%s\n", k, v)
      return nil
    if err != nil {
      return err
  return nil

The iterator allows you to move to a specific point in the list of keys and move forward or backward through the keys one at a time.

By default, Badger prefetches the values of the next 100 items. You can adjust that with the IteratorOptions.PrefetchSize field. However, setting it to a value higher than GOMAXPROCS (which we recommend to be 128 or higher) shouldn’t give any additional benefits. You can also turn off the fetching of values altogether. See section below on key-only iteration.

Prefix scans

To iterate over a key prefix, you can combine Seek() and ValidForPrefix():

db.View(func(txn *badger.Txn) error {
  it := txn.NewIterator(badger.DefaultIteratorOptions)
  defer it.Close()
  prefix := []byte("1234")
  for it.Seek(prefix); it.ValidForPrefix(prefix); it.Next() {
    item := it.Item()
    k := item.Key()
    err := item.Value(func(v []byte) error {
      fmt.Printf("key=%s, value=%s\n", k, v)
      return nil
    if err != nil {
      return err
  return nil

Key-only iteration

Badger supports a unique mode of iteration called key-only iteration. It is several order of magnitudes faster than regular iteration, because it involves access to the LSM-tree only, which is usually resident entirely in RAM. To enable key-only iteration, you need to set the IteratorOptions.PrefetchValues field to false. This can also be used to do sparse reads for selected keys during an iteration, by calling item.Value() only when required.

err := db.View(func(txn *badger.Txn) error {
  opts := badger.DefaultIteratorOptions
  opts.PrefetchValues = false
  it := txn.NewIterator(opts)
  defer it.Close()
  for it.Rewind(); it.Valid(); it.Next() {
    item := it.Item()
    k := item.Key()
    fmt.Printf("key=%s\n", k)
  return nil

Garbage Collection

Badger values need to be garbage collected, because of two reasons:

  • Badger keeps values separately from the LSM tree. This means that the compaction operations that clean up the LSM tree do not touch the values at all. Values need to be cleaned up separately.

  • Concurrent read/write transactions could leave behind multiple values for a single key, because they are stored with different versions. These could accumulate, and take up unneeded space beyond the time these older versions are needed.

Badger relies on the client to perform garbage collection at a time of their choosing. It provides the following methods, which can be invoked at an appropriate time:

  • DB.PurgeOlderVersions(): Is no longer needed since v1.5.0. Badger's LSM tree automatically discards older/invalid versions of keys.
  • DB.RunValueLogGC(): This method is designed to do garbage collection while Badger is online. Along with randomly picking a file, it uses statistics generated by the LSM-tree compactions to pick files that are likely to lead to maximum space reclamation.

It is recommended that this method be called during periods of low activity in your system, or periodically. One call would only result in removal of at max one log file. As an optimization, you could also immediately re-run it whenever it returns nil error (indicating a successful value log GC).

ticker := time.NewTicker(5 * time.Minute)
defer ticker.Stop()
for range ticker.C {
  err := db.RunValueLogGC(0.7)
  if err == nil {
    goto again

Database backup

There are two public API methods DB.Backup() and DB.Load() which can be used to do online backups and restores. Badger v0.9 provides a CLI tool badger, which can do offline backup/restore. Make sure you have $GOPATH/bin in your PATH to use this tool.

The command below will create a version-agnostic backup of the database, to a file badger.bak in the current working directory

badger backup --dir <path/to/badgerdb>

To restore badger.bak in the current working directory to a new database:

badger restore --dir <path/to/badgerdb>

See badger --help for more details.

If you have a Badger database that was created using v0.8 (or below), you can use the badger_backup tool provided in v0.8.1, and then restore it using the command above to upgrade your database to work with the latest version.

badger_backup --dir <path/to/badgerdb> --backup-file badger.bak

Memory usage

Badger's memory usage can be managed by tweaking several options available in the Options struct that is passed in when opening the database using DB.Open.

  • Options.ValueLogLoadingMode can be set to options.FileIO (instead of the default options.MemoryMap) to avoid memory-mapping log files. This can be useful in environments with low RAM.
  • Number of memtables (Options.NumMemtables)
    • If you modify Options.NumMemtables, also adjust Options.NumLevelZeroTables and Options.NumLevelZeroTablesStall accordingly.
  • Number of concurrent compactions (Options.NumCompactors)
  • Mode in which LSM tree is loaded (Options.TableLoadingMode)
  • Size of table (Options.MaxTableSize)
  • Size of value log file (Options.ValueLogFileSize)

If you want to decrease the memory usage of Badger instance, tweak these options (ideally one at a time) until you achieve the desired memory usage.


Badger records metrics using the expvar package, which is included in the Go standard library. All the metrics are documented in y/metrics.go file.

expvar package adds a handler in to the default HTTP server (which has to be started explicitly), and serves up the metrics at the /debug/vars endpoint. These metrics can then be collected by a system like Prometheus, to get better visibility into what Badger is doing.


Blog Posts

  1. Introducing Badger: A fast key-value store written natively in Go
  2. Make Badger crash resilient with ALICE
  3. Badger vs LMDB vs BoltDB: Benchmarking key-value databases in Go
  4. Concurrent ACID Transactions in Badger


Badger was written with these design goals in mind:

  • Write a key-value database in pure Go.
  • Use latest research to build the fastest KV database for data sets spanning terabytes.
  • Optimize for SSDs.

Badger’s design is based on a paper titled WiscKey: Separating Keys from Values in SSD-conscious Storage.


Feature Badger RocksDB BoltDB
Design LSM tree with value log LSM tree only B+ tree
High Read throughput Yes No Yes
High Write throughput Yes Yes No
Designed for SSDs Yes (with latest research 1) Not specifically 2 No
Embeddable Yes Yes Yes
Sorted KV access Yes Yes Yes
Pure Go (no Cgo) Yes No Yes
Transactions Yes, ACID, concurrent with SSI3 Yes (but non-ACID) Yes, ACID
Snapshots Yes Yes Yes
TTL support Yes Yes No

1 The WISCKEY paper (on which Badger is based) saw big wins with separating values from keys, significantly reducing the write amplification compared to a typical LSM tree.

2 RocksDB is an SSD optimized version of LevelDB, which was designed specifically for rotating disks. As such RocksDB's design isn't aimed at SSDs.

3 SSI: Serializable Snapshot Isolation. For more details, see the blog post Concurrent ACID Transactions in Badger


We have run comprehensive benchmarks against RocksDB, Bolt and LMDB. The benchmarking code, and the detailed logs for the benchmarks can be found in the badger-bench repo. More explanation, including graphs can be found the blog posts (linked above).

Other Projects Using Badger

Below is a list of known projects that use Badger:

  • 0-stor - Single device object store.
  • Dgraph - Distributed graph database.
  • Dispatch Protocol - Blockchain protocol for distributed application data analytics.
  • Sandglass - distributed, horizontally scalable, persistent, time sorted message queue.
  • Usenet Express - Serving over 300TB of data with Badger.
  • go-ipfs - Go client for the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a new hypermedia distribution protocol.
  • gorush - A push notification server written in Go.
  • emitter - Scalable, low latency, distributed pub/sub broker with message storage, uses MQTT, gossip and badger.
  • GarageMQ - AMQP server written in Go.

If you are using Badger in a project please send a pull request to add it to the list.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • My writes are getting stuck. Why?

Update: With the new Value(func(v []byte)) API, this deadlock can no longer happen.

The following is true for users on Badger v1.x.

This can happen if a long running iteration with Prefetch is set to false, but a Item::Value call is made internally in the loop. That causes Badger to acquire read locks over the value log files to avoid value log GC removing the file from underneath. As a side effect, this also blocks a new value log GC file from being created, when the value log file boundary is hit.

Please see Github issues #293 and #315.

There are multiple workarounds during iteration:

  1. Use Item::ValueCopy instead of Item::Value when retrieving value.
  2. Set Prefetch to true. Badger would then copy over the value and release the file lock immediately.
  3. When Prefetch is false, don't call Item::Value and do a pure key-only iteration. This might be useful if you just want to delete a lot of keys.
  4. Do the writes in a separate transaction after the reads.
  • My writes are really slow. Why?

Are you creating a new transaction for every single key update, and waiting for it to Commit fully before creating a new one? This will lead to very low throughput.

We have created WriteBatch API which provides a way to batch up many updates into a single transaction and Commit that transaction using callbacks to avoid blocking. This amortizes the cost of a transaction really well, and provides the most efficient way to do bulk writes.

Note that WriteBatch API does not allow any reads. For read-modify-write workloads, you should be using the Transaction API.

wb := db.NewWriteBatch()
defer wb.Cancel()

for i := 0; i < N; i++ {
  err := wb.Set(key(i), value(i), 0) // Will create txns as needed.
handle(wb.Flush()) // Wait for all txns to finish.
  • I don't see any disk write. Why?

If you're using Badger with SyncWrites=false, then your writes might not be written to value log and won't get synced to disk immediately. Writes to LSM tree are done inmemory first, before they get compacted to disk. The compaction would only happen once MaxTableSize has been reached. So, if you're doing a few writes and then checking, you might not see anything on disk. Once you Close the database, you'll see these writes on disk.

  • Reverse iteration doesn't give me the right results.

Just like forward iteration goes to the first key which is equal or greater than the SEEK key, reverse iteration goes to the first key which is equal or lesser than the SEEK key. Therefore, SEEK key would not be part of the results. You can typically add a 0xff byte as a suffix to the SEEK key to include it in the results. See the following issues: #436 and #347.

  • Which instances should I use for Badger?

We recommend using instances which provide local SSD storage, without any limit on the maximum IOPS. In AWS, these are storage optimized instances like i3. They provide local SSDs which clock 100K IOPS over 4KB blocks easily.

  • I'm getting a closed channel error. Why?
panic: close of closed channel
panic: send on closed channel

If you're seeing panics like above, this would be because you're operating on a closed DB. This can happen, if you call Close() before sending a write, or multiple times. You should ensure that you only call Close() once, and all your read/write operations finish before closing.

  • Are there any Go specific settings that I should use?

We highly recommend setting a high number for GOMAXPROCS, which allows Go to observe the full IOPS throughput provided by modern SSDs. In Dgraph, we have set it to 128. For more details, see this thread.

  • Are there any linux specific settings that I should use?

We recommend setting max file descriptors to a high number depending upon the expected size of you data.