Apache ActiveMQ Artemis transparently supports huge queues containing millions of messages while the server is running with limited memory.

In such a situation it's not possible to store all of the queues in memory at any one time, so Apache ActiveMQ Artemis transparently pages messages into and out of memory as they are needed, thus allowing massive queues with a low memory footprint.

Apache ActiveMQ Artemis will start paging messages to disk, when the size of all messages in memory for an address exceeds a configured maximum size.

The default configuration from Artemis has destinations with paging.

Page Files

Messages are stored per address on the file system. Each address has an individual folder where messages are stored in multiple files (page files). Each file will contain messages up to a max configured size (page-size-bytes). The system will navigate the files as needed, and it will remove the page file as soon as all the messages are acknowledged up to that point.

Browsers will read through the page-cursor system.

Consumers with selectors will also navigate through the page-files and it will ignore messages that don't match the criteria.


When you have a queue, and consumers filtering the queue with a very restrictive selector you may get into a situation where you won't be able to read more data from paging until you consume messages from the queue.

Example: in one consumer you make a selector as 'color="red"' but you only have one color red 1 millions messages after blue, you won't be able to consume red until you consume blue ones.

This is different to browsing as we will "browse" the entire queue looking for messages and while we "depage" messages while feeding the queue.


You can configure the location of the paging folder in broker.xml.

  • paging-directory Where page files are stored. Apache ActiveMQ Artemis will create one folder for each address being paged under this configured location. Default is data/paging.

Paging Mode

As soon as messages delivered to an address exceed the configured size, that address alone goes into page mode.


Paging is done individually per address. If you configure a max-size-bytes for an address, that means each matching address will have a maximum size that you specified. It DOES NOT mean that the total overall size of all matching addresses is limited to max-size-bytes.


Configuration is done at the address settings in broker.xml.

   <address-setting match="jms.someaddress">

Note: The management-address settings cannot be changed or overridden ie management messages aren't allowed to page/block/fail and are considered an internal broker management mechanism. The memory occupation of the management-address is not considered while evaluating if global-max-size is hit and can't cause other non-management addresses to trigger a configured address-full-policy.

This is the list of available parameters on the address settings.

Property Name Description Default
max-size-bytes What's the max memory the address could have before entering on page mode. -1 (disabled)
page-size-bytes The size of each page file used on the paging system 10MB
address-full-policy This must be set to PAGE for paging to enable. If the value is PAGE then further messages will be paged to disk. If the value is DROP then further messages will be silently dropped. If the value is FAIL then the messages will be dropped and the client message producers will receive an exception. If the value is BLOCK then client message producers will block when they try and send further messages. PAGE
page-max-cache-size The system will keep up to page-max-cache-size page files in memory to optimize IO during paging navigation. 5

Global Max Size

Beyond the max-size-bytes on the address you can also set the global-max-size on the main configuration. If you set max-size-bytes = -1 on paging the global-max-size can still be used.

When you have more messages than what is configured global-max-size any new produced message will make that destination to go through its paging policy.

global-max-size is calculated as half of the max memory available to the Java Virtual Machine, unless specified on the broker.xml configuration.

Dropping messages

Instead of paging messages when the max size is reached, an address can also be configured to just drop messages when the address is full.

To do this just set the address-full-policy to DROP in the address settings

Dropping messages and throwing an exception to producers

Instead of paging messages when the max size is reached, an address can also be configured to drop messages and also throw an exception on the client-side when the address is full.

To do this just set the address-full-policy to FAIL in the address settings

Blocking producers

Instead of paging messages when the max size is reached, an address can also be configured to block producers from sending further messages when the address is full, thus preventing the memory being exhausted on the server.

When memory is freed up on the server, producers will automatically unblock and be able to continue sending.

To do this just set the address-full-policy to BLOCK in the address settings

In the default configuration, all addresses are configured to block producers after 10 MiB of data are in the address.

Caution with Addresses with Multiple Multicast Queues

When a message is routed to an address that has multiple multicast queues bound to it, e.g. a JMS subscription in a Topic, there is only 1 copy of the message in memory. Each queue only deals with a reference to this. Because of this the memory is only freed up once all queues referencing the message have delivered it.

If you have a single lazy subscription, the entire address will suffer IO performance hit as all the queues will have messages being sent through an extra storage on the paging system.

For example:

  • An address has 10 multicast queues

  • One of the queues does not deliver its messages (maybe because of a slow consumer).

  • Messages continually arrive at the address and paging is started.

  • The other 9 queues are empty even though messages have been sent.

In this example all the other 9 queues will be consuming messages from the page system. This may cause performance issues if this is an undesirable state.

Max Disk Usage

The System will perform scans on the disk to determine if the disk is beyond a configured limit. These are configured through max-disk-usage in percentage. Once that limit is reached any message will be blocked. (unless the protocol doesn't support flow control on which case there will be an exception thrown and the connection for those clients dropped).

Page Sync Timeout

The pages are synced periodically and the sync period is configured through page-sync-timeout in nanoseconds. When using NIO journal, by default has the same value of journal-buffer-timeout. When using ASYNCIO, the default should be 3333333.


See the Paging Example which shows how to use paging with Apache ActiveMQ Artemis.

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