Help! Something is wrong with my Jaeger installation!

Juraci Paixão Kröhling
Published in
3 min readJan 18, 2019


Jaeger is composed of different components, each potentially running in its own host. It might be the case that one of these moving parts isn’t working properly, causing spans to not be processed and stored. When something goes wrong, make sure to check the items listed here.

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Sampling strategy

Before everything else, make sure to confirm what is the sampling strategy. By default, Jaeger uses a probabilistic sampling strategy, with a 1/1000th chance that the span will be reported.

Typically, the sampling strategy can be set via the environment variables JAEGER_SAMPLER_TYPEand JAEGER_SAMPLER_PARAM, but refer to the Jaeger Client’s documentation for the language you are using for more details about which sampling strategies are available. When using the Jaeger Java Client, the strategy is usually printed out via the logging facility provided by the instrumented application when creating the tracer:

2018-12-10 16:41:25 INFO  Configuration:236 - Initialized  tracer=JaegerTracer(..., sampler=ConstSampler(decision=true,  tags={sampler.type=const, sampler.param=true}), ...)

Logging reporter

Some Jaeger clients are able to log the spans that are being reported to the logging facility provided by the instrumented application. Typically, this can be done by setting the environment variable JAEGER_REPORTER_LOG_SPANSto true, but refer to the Jaeger Client’s documentation for the language you are using. When using the Jaeger Java Client, spans are reported like the following:

2018-12-10 17:20:54 INFO  LoggingReporter:43 - Span reported:  e66dc77b8a1e813b:6b39b9c18f8ef082:a56f41e38ca449a4:1 -  getAccountFromCache

The log entry above contains three IDs: the trace ID e66dc77b8a1e813b, the span’s ID 6b39b9c18f8ef082 and the span’s parent ID a56f41e38ca449a4. When the backend components have the log level set to debug, the span and trace IDs should be visible on their standard output (see more about that below, under “Increase the logging in the backend components”).

The logging reporter follows the sampling decision made by the sampler, meaning that if the span is logged, it should also reach the agent or collector.

Bypass the Jaeger Agent

By default, the Jaeger Agent receives spans via UDP from the Jaeger Client. As some networking setups might drop or block UDP packets, the Jaeger client can be configured to bypass the agent, sending spans directly to the collector. Some clients, such as the Jaeger Java Client, support the environment variable JAEGER_ENDPOINTwhich can be used to specify the collector’s location, such as http://jaeger-collector:14268/api/traces. Refer to the Jaeger Client’s documentation for the language you are using. When setting this environment variable, the Jaeger Java Client logs the following when the tracer is created:

2018-12-10 17:06:30 INFO  Configuration:236 - Initialized  tracer=JaegerTracer(...,  reporter=CompositeReporter(reporters=[RemoteReporter(sender=HttpSender(),  ...), ...]), ...)

IMPORTANT: the Jaeger Java Client will not fail when a connection to the Jaeger Collector can’t be established. Spans will be collected and placed in an internal buffer. They might eventually reach the collector once a connection is established, or get dropped in case the buffer reaches its maximum size.

Increase the logging in the backend components

The Jaeger Agent and Collector provide useful debugging information when the log level is set to debug. Every UDP packet that is received by the agent is logged by the agent, as well as every batch that is sent by the agent to the collector. The collector also logs every batch it receives and logs every span that is stored in the permanent storage.

Here’s what to expect when the Jaeger Agent is started with the --log-level=debugflag:

In the collector’s side, these are the expected log entries when the flag --log-level=debugis specified:

Check the /metrics endpoint

For the cases where it’s not possible or desirable to increase the logging in the collector’s side, the /metricsendpoint can be used to check if spans for specific services were received. Assuming that the Jaeger Collector is available under a host named jaeger-collector, here’s a sample curlcall to obtain the metrics:

curl http://jaeger-collector:14268/metrics

The following metrics are of special interest:

The first two metrics should have similar values for the same service. Similarly, the two tracesmetrics should also have similar values. For instance, this is an example of a sane setup:


These are some of the troubleshooting steps that should serve as the first resource when investigating why spans aren’t flowing from your instrumented application to the target Jaeger instance.

If you can’t figure out why your spans aren’t reaching the backend even after you followed the steps in this small guide, let us know via Gitter or mailing list.



Juraci Paixão Kröhling

Juraci Paixão Kröhling is a software engineer at Grafana Labs, a maintainer on the Jaeger project, and a contributor to the OpenTelemetry project.