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Flex Logs decouples log storage and log query compute. This allows you to store all your logs and have more flexibility to choose which use cases you want to serve. You can keep high-volume logs for long periods of time and store all your logs with Datadog, across all use cases and budgets.

Security, compliance, and engineering teams often need to query logs over large time windows. Security breaches are often detected after weeks, if not months, of an incident and legal compliance reviews and audit processes may require logs dating back more than a year. Long term analysis requirements are not limited to security teams. Engineering teams conducting high cardinality, year-over-year, long term analysis on millions of entities like users, hosts, and IP addresses are better served with logs over straight metrics.

This overview highlights the main features of Flex Tier storage, the differences between Standard, Flex storage options for your log data, and the use cases for Flex Tier storage.

Configure storage tiers

Flex Logs is set up within log index configurations. Index filters that apply to that index also apply to Flex logs.

Configure Flex Tier in the Logs Index Configuration page:

  1. Go to Logs > Pipelines > Indexes.
  2. Edit the index you wish to enable with Flex Logs or create a new index.
  3. Select Flex Tier and set the retention under Configure Storage Tier and Retention.
Options for the Flex tier storage within the index configuration


  • If both are selected, logs are stored in the Standard Tier until the end of the configured retention period before they are stored in the Flex Tier. For example, you select Standard Tier with a retention of 3 days and Flex Tier with a retention of 90 days. The logs in that index are first stored in the Standard Tier for 3 days and then stored in the Flex Tier for the remaining 87 days totalling a 90 day retention.
  • Adding the Standard Tier to a Flex index applies to new logs, not pre-existing logs in the Flex index.

Search Flex indexes

Enable Flex Logging on the Log Explorer page by toggling the option

In the Log Explorer, toggle the Include Flex Indexes option to include Flex index logs in your search query results. Find this option next to the time picker.

Search by typing in queries in the search bar or by selecting the relevant facet in the facet panel.

Use cases for Flex storage

Flex Tier storage is useful for storing logs where long running security/audit investigations, data completeness and compliance requirements are more important than sub-second response times. Some example use cases for Flex storage include:

  • Retaining logs for long term auditing.
  • Retaining logs for compliance and legal reasons.
  • Need all logs for security investigations.
  • Need to query logs for reporting and analytics for high cardinality data over long time periods.

Potential sources for sending directly to the Flex Logs indexing tier

The following list is an example of log sources that are potentially good candidates for sending logs directly to the Flex Tier, therefore not going to Standard Indexing first. This is not an exhaustive list and is meant to give you an idea about the types of logs that are suitable for this configuration. Other log sources (for example, application logs) can still be sent to the Flex Tier after going to Standard indexing first for live troubleshooting, alerting, and debugging use cases. Your use cases for these sources could vary, and that is important to consider when making the decision to skip Standard Indexing.

Note: These examples are just a sample for each category. There are many more services, tools, and technologies available for each category that you might want to send to the Flex Tier.

  • CDN services examples
    • Akamai, Cloudflare, Fastly, and CloudFront.
  • DNS services examples
    • Route53, Cloudflare, Akamai (Edge),and NS1.
  • Firewall logs and Firewall appliances examples
    • AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF), Barracuda WAF, pfSense, Checkpoint, Sophos, and FortiNet.
  • Cloud network services (VPC, Gateways, NAT, and WAN) examples
    • AWS VPC, Direct Connect, PrivateLink, AWS NAT Gateway, Azure Basition, and Virtual WAN.
  • Loadbalancers examples
    • AWS ELB, ALB, NLB (GCP and Azure flavors), F5, and NGINX.
  • Artifact repository management examples
  • Identity services and tools examples
    • Cisco ISE, Okta, OneLogin, and Workday User Activity Logs.
  • Audit logs examples
    • Cloud Provider Audit Logs (for example, CloudTrail), Kubernetes audit, and Microsoft 365 audit.
  • Physical network appliances examples
    • Cisco, Meraki, Juniper, Arbua, HPE, Palo Alto, and Barracuda.
  • Network Flow logs examples
    • Cisco NetFlow, IPFIX, sFlow, and AWS VPC FlowLogs.
  • VPN services examples
    • AWS, GCP, and Azure VPN, Tailscale, Twingate, OpenVPN, ZeroTier, and WireGuard.
  • CI/CD services and tools examples
    • GitLab, GitHub Actions, ArgoCD, Jenkins, CircleCI, TeamCity, and AWS CodePipeline.
  • Service mesh examples
    • Anthos, Istio, proxyv2, consul, Linkerd, and Kong.
  • Caching examples
    • Varnish, Memcached, and Redis.

You can use the spectrum of log types shown in the image below to determine when to use the Flex Logs tier. Any high volume, infrequent access, long term retention log sources are good candidates, and this includes extending Standard Tier logs (for example, application logs) into the Flex Tier as well.

Logs indexing and access frequency spectrum graph

Further reading