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Filebeat Scrubber performs operations on files that Filebeat has fully harvested.

Project description

Filebeat Scrubber

Filebeat Scrubber performs operations on files that Filebeat has fully harvested.

Currently, Filebeat Scrubber supports:

  • Moving files to a custom destination directory.
  • Permanently deleting files in place.

To do this, Filebeat Scrubber reads the Filebeat registry file for a list of all files that Filebeat has knowledge of. If a file has been fully harvested by Filebeat (i.e. bytes read = file size), it performs one of the actions listed above.

Since this application depends on the registry file containing accurate information, be sure to configure registry flushing for best results in your use case.

There is a fair bit of nuance when it comes to how Filebeat handles harvesting files that are being moved or deleted. Be sure to read and understand the close_* options and the clean_* options.

This README only serves as a simple guide and is in no way comprehensive. Official documentation from Filebeat supersedes this documentation. Any errors or omissions should be reported so they can be corrected.


A common use case for logging is to write a file once (e.g. an event in JSON format) and never append to it again. Filebeat does not natively support deleting files that have been fully harvested. Therefore, a solution is needed to move or delete files once they have been fully harvested by Filebeat so that the system does not run out of inodes or disk space.

This use case has been discussed on the Beats Github page. In that discussion, a user suggested creating a custom solution that uses the data from the Filebeat registry file. And in fact, a user did just that in Ruby. Filebeat Scrubber, written in Python, was inspired by that project and the discussions in that thread.

Note that Filebeat uses a newline character to detect the end of an event. When writing a JSON file to disk, you must ensure that it ends with a newline or else Filebeat will not read the last line in the file. If you do not terminate the line with a newline, it could lead to data loss and malformed JSON.


Before you proceed, it is recommended you setup a virtual environment.

Filebeat Scrubber is available from PyPI:

pip install filebeat-scrubber


$ filebeat_scrubber --help

usage: filebeat_scrubber [-h] [--registry-file REGISTRY_FILE]
                         [--destination TARGET_DIRECTORY] [--move] [--remove]
                         [--verbose] [--summary] [--input-type TYPE]
                         [--file-filter FILTER_REGEX] [--older-than AGE]
                         [--interval INTERVAL]

Process fully harvested files from Filebeat input paths.

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  --registry-file REGISTRY_FILE
                        Full path to the Filebeat registry file. Default:
  --destination TARGET_DIRECTORY
                        Directory to move fully harvested files to.
  --move                Move the fully harvested files.
  --remove              Remove (delete) the fully harvested files.
  --verbose             Verbose output logging.
  --summary             Print summary of I/O operations.
  --input-type TYPE     Filebeat input "type" to filter fully harvested files
                        on. This argument can be provided multiple times.
  --file-filter FILTER_REGEX
                        Regex to filter fully harvested files with. The filter
                        is applied to the full path of the file. This argument
                        can be provided multiple times.
  --older-than AGE      The minimum age required, in seconds, since the
                        Filebeat harvester last processed a file before it can
                        be scrubbed.
  --interval INTERVAL   The interval to run Filebeat Scrubber with. If
                        specified, Filebeat Scrubber will run indefinitely at
                        the configured interval instead of running once and

NOTE: This script must be run as a user that has permissions to access the
Filebeat registry file and any input paths that are configured in Filebeat.


This example demonstrates handling multi-line JSON files that are only written once and not updated from time to time.

Filebeat Input Configuration

This configuration assumes that you have multi-line JSON files, and have separated files which are single objects into one naming scheme, and arrays of objects into another scheme. If you only have one type, customize this configuration as you see fit. This is provided purely as an example using Filebeat 6. Your configuration will probably need to be different.

filebeat.registry_flush: 5s


- type: log
    - tests/json_files/object_*.json
  close_removed: true
  clean_removed: true
  multiline.pattern: ^\{
  multiline.negate: true
  multiline.match: after
  multiline.timeout: 5s

- type: log
    - tests/json_files/array_*.json
  close_removed: true
  clean_removed: true
  multiline.pattern: ^\[
  multiline.negate: true
  multiline.match: after
  multiline.timeout: 5s

Using a registry_flush of 5 seconds ensures that the registry file is updated on a regular interval instead of every time events are published. If you are publishing a lot of events, using an interval can improve Filebeat performance at the expense of registry accuracy. Configure this for your use case and needs.

Using close_removed tells Filebeat to close the harvester for a file when the file is removed (moved or deleted). This is on by default, but set explicitly here for clarity. Another option is using close_eof, which tells Filebeat to close a file once the harvester has reached the end of the file. This option can lead to data loss if files are not written atomically (the harvester may reach the end of the file before all of the data has been written to it).

Using clean_removed tells Filebeat to clean a file entry from the registry if the file cannot be found on disk anymore under the last known name. This prevents the Filebeat registry from becoming cluttered with data on files that have been removed and that will never return. This is on by default, but set explicitly here for clarity.

Using multiline.* settings accounts for the JSON being in multi-line (pretty- printed/indented) format. If your JSON is on a single line, these settings should not be necessary. It is also possible to reverse these settings, and instead have multiline.match: before with multiline.pattern: ^\] or multiline.pattern: ^\}. With these settings, it should not rely on the multiline.timeout to trigger the event publishing, assuming all of the data is available in the file at the time the harvester reads it. Using atomic writes can ensure this.

Filebeat Scrubber Command

IMPORTANT If your Filebeat is configured to also process regular appending log files, it is important to add filters to Filebeat Scrubber so that it does not operate on files you do not intend it to. If you do not do this, you may experience data loss!

Moving Harvested Files

Example of moving fully harvested files to a separate directory.

filebeat_scrubber \
    --move \
    --destination /tmp/fb-scrubber \
    --input-type log \
    --file-filter \.json$

If you want to delete these files at a later time, the following command will delete any files older than 1 day:

$ find /tmp/fb-scrubber -type f -ctime +1 -delete

Deleting Harvested Files in Place

Example of deleting fully harvested files in place.

filebeat_scrubber \
    --remove \
    --input-type log \
    --file-filter \.json$


This project uses tox.

Grab the source code and setup your development environment using a virtual environment:

git clone
cd filebeat-scrubber
mkvirtualenv -p python3 filebeat-scrubber
pip install -r requirements.txt

Then build the project:


This will run static code analysis, tests, and packaging. Built packages can be found in dist/. An HTML report of test coverage can be found in reports/htmlcov/index.html.

Publishing a release to PyPI

Update the version of the release in

Build the latest version of the project:


Publish the release with twine:

twine upload dist/filebeat_scrubber-X.Y.Z-py3-none-any.whl

End to End Testing

Install the current source code of Filebeat Scubber into your virtual environment:

python install

Make sure you have Filebeat installed. E.g.:

sudo apt-get install filebeat

Start a local Filebeat instance using the provided test config file:

filebeat \
    -e \
    -c filebeat.yml \
    --path.config tests/config_files/ \ tests/sandbox/

Start the JSON file generator to automatically create JSON files in the test directory:

python tests/tools/ \
    --number 1000 \
    --delay 10 \
    --indent 4 \
    --file-prefix object_ \
    --destination tests/json_files

Start the Filebeat Scrubber to inspect which files can be scrubbed:

watch filebeat_scrubber \
    --registry-file tests/sandbox/registry \
    --verbose \
    --summary \
    --input-type log \
    --file-filter object_.*\.json

Since --move and --remove are not provided, no action will be performed and only information about what would happen is printed to the console.

Add --move or --remove if you wish to test the operations for real.

That should be enough to see Filebeat Scrubber working. You can optionally go a step further and see how Logstash would parse such a log. If you do not have Logstash installed, please do so:

sudo apt-get install logstash

Edit the Filebeat configuration to enable outputting to Logstash. The sample Filebeat configuration has a commented section for this. Comment out the output configuration for console and uncomment the logstash configuration.

Run Logstash with the provided sample Logstash configuration:

/usr/share/logstash/bin/logstash \
    --path.config tests/config_files/logstash.conf \ tests/sandbox \
    --log.level info

You should now see any messages posted from Filebeat to Logstash in your console. Make sure that there are no JSON parsing errors.


Delete files that were created from the testing:

rm -rf tests/json_files tests/sandbox

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