Large scale workflows are prone to errors due to node failures, application or environment errors, and myriad other issues. Parsl’s checkpointing model provides workflow resilience and fault tolerance.


Checkpointing is only possible for apps which have app caching enabled. If app caching is disabled in the config Config.app_cache, checkpointing will not work.

Parsl follows an incremental checkpointing model, where each checkpoint file contains all results that have been updated since the last checkpoint.

When loading a checkpoint file the Parsl script will use checkpointed results for any apps that have been previously executed. Like app caching, checkpoints use the app name, hash, and input parameters to locate previously computed results. If multiple checkpoints exist for an app (with the same hash) the most recent entry will be used.

Parsl provides four checkpointing modes:

  1. task_exit: a checkpoint is created each time an app completes or fails (after retries if enabled). This mode minimizes the risk of losing information from completed tasks.

    >>> from parsl.configs.local_threads import config
    >>> config.checkpoint_mode = 'task_exit'
  2. periodic: a checkpoint is created periodically using a user-specified checkpointing interval.

    >>> from parsl.configs.local_threads import config
    >>> config.checkpoint_mode = 'periodic'
    >>> config.checkpoint_period = "01:00:00"
  3. dfk_exit: checkpoints are created when Parsl is about to exit. This reduces the risk of losing results due to premature workflow termination from exceptions, terminate signals, etc. However it is still possible that information might be lost if the workflow is terminated abruptly (machine failure, SIGKILL, etc.)

    >>> from parsl.configs.local_threads import config
    >>> config.checkpoint_mode = 'dfk_exit'
  4. Manual: in addition to these automated checkpointing modes, it is also possible to manually initiate a checkpoint by calling DataFlowKernel.checkpoint() in the workflow code.

    >>> import parsl
    >>> from parsl.configs.local_threads import config
    >>> dfk = parsl.load(config)
    >>> ....
    >>> dfk.checkpoint()

In all cases the checkpoint file is written out to the runinfo/RUN_ID/checkpoint/ directory.


Checkpoint modes periodic, dfk_exit, and manual can interfere with garbage collection. In these modes task information will be retained after completion, until checkpointing events are triggered.

Creating a checkpoint

When using automated checkpointing there is no need to modify a Parsl script as checkpointing will be conducted transparently. The following example shows how manual checkpointing can be invoked in a Parsl script.

import parsl
from parsl import python_app
from parsl.configs.local_threads import config

dfk = parsl.load(config)

def slow_double(x, sleep_dur=1):
    import time
    return x * 2

N = 5   # Number of calls to slow_double
d = []  # List to store the futures
for i in range(0, N):

# Wait for the results
[i.result() for i in d]

cpt_dir = dfk.checkpoint()
print(cpt_dir)  # Prints the checkpoint dir

Resuming from a checkpoint

When resuming a workflow from a checkpoint Parsl allows the user to select which checkpoint file(s) to be used. As mentioned above, checkpoint files are stored in the runinfo/RUNID/checkpoint directory. The example below shows how to resume using from all available checkpoints:

import parsl
from parsl.tests.configs.local_threads import config
from parsl.utils import get_all_checkpoints

config.checkpoint_files = get_all_checkpoints()