Durability and Data Recovery

Memgraph uses two mechanisms to ensure the durability of the stored data:

Write-ahead logging works by logging all database modifications to a file. This ensures that all operations are done atomically and provides a trace of steps needed to reconstruct the database state.

Snapshots are taken periodically during the entire runtime of Memgraph. When a snapshot is triggered, the whole data storage is written to disk. The snapshot file provides a quicker way to restore the database state.

Database recovery is done on startup from the most recently found snapshot file. Since the snapshot may be older than the most recent update logged in the WAL file, the recovery process will apply the remaining state changes found in the said WAL file.

NOTE: Snapshot and WAL files are not (currently) compatible between Memgraph versions.

Behaviour of the above mechanisms can be tweaked in the configuration file, usually found in /etc/memgraph/memgraph.conf.

In addition to the above mentioned data durability and recovery, a snapshot file may be generated using Memgraph's import tools. For more information, take a look at the How to Import Data? article.

Storable Data Types

Since Memgraph is a graph database management system, data is stored in the form of graph elements: nodes and edges. Each graph element can also contain various types of data. This chapter describes which data types are supported in Memgraph.

Node Labels & Edge Types

Each node can have any number of labels. A label is a text value, which can be used to label or group nodes according to users' desires. A user can change labels at any time. Similarly to labels, each edge can have a type, represented as text. Unlike nodes, which can have multiple labels or none at all, edges must have exactly one edge type. Another difference to labels, is that the edge types are set upon creation and never modified again.


Nodes and edges can store various properties. These are like mappings or tables containing property names and their accompanying values. Property names are represented as text, while values can be of different types. Each property name can store a single value, it is not possible to have multiple properties with the same name on a single graph element. Naturally, the same property names can be found across multiple graph elements. Also, there are no restrictions on the number of properties that can be stored in a single graph element. The only restriction is that the values must be of the supported types. Following is a table of supported data types.

Type Description
Null Denotes that the property has no value. This is the same as if the property does not exist.
String A character string, i.e. text.
Boolean A boolean value, either true or false.
Integer An integer number.
Float A floating-point number, i.e. a real number.
List A list containing any number of property values of any supported type. It can be used to store multiple values under a single property name.
Map A mapping of string keys to values of any supported type.

Note that even though it's possible to store List and Map property values, it is not possible to modify them. It is however possible to replace them completely. So, the following queries are legal:

CREATE (:Node {property: [1, 2, 3]})
CREATE (:Node {property: {key: "value"}})

However, these queries are not:

MATCH (n:Node) SET n.property[0] = 0
MATCH (n:Node) SET n.property.key = "other value"

Cold data on disk

Although Memgraph is an in-memory database by default, it offers an option to store a certain amount of data on disk. More precisely, the user can pass a list of properties they wish to keep stored on disk via the command line. In certain cases, this might result in a significant performance boost due to reduced memory usage. It is recommended to use this feature on large, cold properties, i.e. properties that are rarely accessed.

For example, a user of a library database might identify author biographies and book summaries as cold properties. In that case, the user should run Memgraph as follows:

/usr/lib/memgraph/memgraph --properties-on-disk biography,summary

Note that the usage of Memgraph has not changed, i.e. durability and data recovery mechanisms are still in place and the query language remains the same. It is also important to note that the user cannot change the storage location of a property while Memgraph is running. Naturally, the user can reload their database from snapshot, provide a different list of properties on disk and rest assured that only those properties will be stored on disk.

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