In addition to persistent storage, pods and containers can require ephemeral or transient local storage for their operation. The lifetime of this ephemeral storage does not extend beyond the life of the individual pod, and this ephemeral storage cannot be shared across pods.

Pods use ephemeral local storage for scratch space, caching, and logs. Issues related to the lack of local storage accounting and isolation include the following:

  • Pods do not know how much local storage is available to them.

  • Pods cannot request guaranteed local storage.

  • Local storage is a best effort resource.

  • Pods can be evicted due to other pods filling the local storage, after which new pods are not admitted until sufficient storage has been reclaimed.

Unlike persistent volumes, ephemeral storage is unstructured and the space is shared between all pods running on a node, in addition to other uses by the system, the container runtime, and OpenShift Container Platform. The ephemeral storage framework allows pods to specify their transient local storage needs. It also allows OpenShift Container Platform to schedule pods where appropriate, and to protect the node against excessive use of local storage.

While the ephemeral storage framework allows administrators and developers to better manage this local storage, it does not provide any promises related to I/O throughput and latency.

Types of ephemeral storage

Ephemeral local storage is always made available in the primary partition. There are two basic ways of creating the primary partition: root and runtime.


This partition holds the kubelet root directory, /var/lib/kubelet/ by default, and /var/log/ directory. This partition can be shared between user pods, the OS, and Kubernetes system daemons. This partition can be consumed by pods through EmptyDir volumes, container logs, image layers, and container-writable layers. Kubelet manages shared access and isolation of this partition. This partition is ephemeral, and applications cannot expect any performance SLAs, such as disk IOPS, from this partition.


This is an optional partition that runtimes can use for overlay file systems. OpenShift Container Platform attempts to identify and provide shared access along with isolation to this partition. Container image layers and writable layers are stored here. If the runtime partition exists, the root partition does not hold any image layer or other writable storage.

Ephemeral storage management

Cluster administrators can manage ephemeral storage within a project by setting quotas that define the limit ranges and number of requests for ephemeral storage across all pods in a non-terminal state. Developers can also set requests and limits on this compute resource at the pod and container level.

Monitoring ephemeral storage

You can use /bin/df as a tool to monitor ephemeral storage usage on the volume where ephemeral container data is located, which is /var/lib/kubelet and /var/lib/containers. The available space for only /var/lib/kubelet is shown when you use the df command if /var/lib/containers is placed on a separate disk by the cluster administrator.

To show the human-readable values of used and available space in /var/lib, enter the following command:

$ df -h /var/lib

The output shows the ephemeral storage usage in /var/lib:

Example output
Filesystem  Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1    69G   32G   34G  49% /