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Comment: Zookeeper FAQ


Code Block


I used Apache Curator to get my test ZooKeeper server: 

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And my code looks like this: 

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 import java.util.Properties;
 import kafka.server.KafkaConfig;
 import kafka.server.KafkaServerStartable;
 import kafka.utils.TestUtils;
 import org.apache.curator.test.TestingServer;
 public class TestKafkaCluster {
     KafkaServerStartable kafkaServer;
     TestingServer zkServer;
     public TestKafkaCluster() throws Exception {
         zkServer = new TestingServer();
         KafkaConfig config = getKafkaConfig(zkServer.getConnectString());
         kafkaServer = new KafkaServerStartable(config);
     private static KafkaConfig getKafkaConfig(final String zkConnectString) {
         scala.collection.Iterator<Properties> propsI =
         assert propsI.hasNext();
         Properties props =;
         assert props.containsKey("zookeeper.connect");
         props.put("zookeeper.connect", zkConnectString);
         return new KafkaConfig(props);
     public String getKafkaBrokerString() {
         return String.format("localhost:%d",
     public String getZkConnectString() {
         return zkServer.getConnectString();
     public int getKafkaPort() {
         return kafkaServer.serverConfig().port();
     public void stop() throws IOException {

Operationalizing Zookeeper

The discussion below uses a 3-instance Zookeeper cluster as an example. The findings apply to a larger cluster as well, but you’ll need to adjust the numbers.

Does it make sense to have a config with only 2 Zookeeper instances? I.e., in file have two entries for server 1 and server 2 only?

No. A setup with 2 Zookeeper instances is not fault tolerant to even 1 failure. If one of the Zookeeper instances fails, the remaining one will not be functional since there is no quorum majority (1 out of 2 is not majority). If you do a “stat” command on that remaining instance you’ll see the output being “This ZooKeeper instance is not currently serving requests”.

What if you end up with only 2 running Zookeeper instances, e.g., you started with 3 but one failed? Isn’t that the same as the case above?

No it’s not the same scenario. First of all, the 3- instance setup did tolerate 1 instance down. The 2 remaining Zookeeper instances will continue to function because the quorum majority (2 out of 3) is there.

I had a 3 Zookeeper instance setup and one instance just failed. How should I recover?

Restart the failed instance with the same configuration it had before (i.e., same “myid” ID file, and same IP address). It is not important to recover the data volume of the failed instance, but it is a bonus if you do so. Once the instance comes up, it will sync with the other 2 Zookeeper instances and get all the data.

I had a 3 Zookeeper instance setup and two instances failed. How should I recover? Is my Zookeeper cluster even running at that point?

First of all, ZooKeeper is now unavailable and the remaining instance will show “This ZooKeeper instance is not currently serving requests” if probed. Second, you should make sure this situation is extremely rare. It should be possible to recover the first failed instance quickly before the second instance fails. Third, bring up the two failed instances one by one without changing anything in their config. Similarly to the case above, it is not important to recover the data volume of the failed instance, but it is a bonus if you do so. Once the instance comes up, it will sync with the other 1 ZooKeeper instance and get all the data.

I had a 3 Zookeeper instance setup and two instances failed. I can’t recover the failed instances for whatever reason. What should I do?

You will have to restart the remaining healthy ZooKeeper in “standalone” mode and restart all the brokers and point them to this standalone zookeeper (instead of all 3 ZooKeepers).

The Zookeeper cluster is unavailable (for any of the reasons mentioned above, e.g., no quorum, all instances have failed). What is the impact on Kafka clients? What is the impact on brokers?

Applications will be able to continue producing and consuming, at least for a while. This is true if the ZooKeeper cluster is temporarily unavailable but eventually becomes available (after a few mins). On the other hand, if the ZooKeeper cluster is permanently unavailable, then applications will slowly start to see problems with producing/consuming especially if some brokers fail, because the partition leaders will not be distributed to other brokers. So taking one extreme, if the ZooKeeper cluster is down for a month, it is very likely that applications will get produce/consume errors. Admin tools (e.g., that create topics, set ACLs or change configs) will not work. Brokers will not be impacted from Zookeeper being unavailable. They will periodically try to reconnect to the ZooKeeper cluster. If you take care to use the same IP address for a recovered Zookeeper instance as it had before it failed, brokers will not need to be restarted.