Read or write operations to my Amazon DynamoDB table are throttled, causing errors in my applications. However, Amazon CloudWatch indicates that the consumed capacity units haven't exceeded the provisioned capacity units. Why is this happening, and how can I fix it?

Partitions are usually throttled when they are accessed by your downstream applications much more frequently than other partitions (that is, a "hot" partition), or when workloads rely on short periods of time with high usage (a "burst" of read or write activity).

To avoid hot partitions and throttling, you must optimize your table and partition structure. For more information and strategies for optimization, see Best Practices for DynamoDB.

Consider one or more of the following solutions:

  • Increase the amount of read or write capacity for your table to anticipate short-term spikes or bursts in read or write operations. If you decide later you don't need the additional capacity, decrease it.
    Note: Before deciding on how much to increase read or write capacity, consider the best practices at Designing Partition Keys to Distribute Your Workload Evenly.
  • Implement error retries and exponential backoff. This technique uses progressively longer waits between retries for consecutive error responses to help improve an application's reliability. If you're using an AWS SDK, this logic is built‑in. If you're using another SDK, consider implementing it manually.
  • Distribute your read operations and write operations as evenly as possible across your table. A "hot" partition can degrade the overall performance of your table.
  • Implement a caching solution, such as DynamoDB Accelerator (DAX) or Amazon ElastiCache. DAX is a DynamoDB-compatible caching service that offers fast in‑memory performance for your application. If your workload is mostly read access to static data, query results can often be served more quickly from a well‑designed cache than from a database.

Adaptive capacity activates within 5‑30 minutes to help mitigate short‑term workload imbalance issues. However, each partition is still subject to the hard limit of 1000 write capacity units and 3000 read capacity units, so adaptive capacity can't solve larger issues with your table or partition design.

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Published: 2016-08-17

Updated: 2018-12-18