We've looked at the full Life of a Label. Let's focus on one of the most common confusions around relabelling.


It's not uncommon for a user to share a Prometheus config with a valid relabel_configs and wonder why it isn't taking effect. This is often resolved by using metric_relabel_configs instead (the reverse has also happened, but it's far less common). So let's shine some light on these two configuration options.

Prometheus needs to know what to scrape, and that's where service discovery and relabel_configs come in. Relabel configs allow you to select which targets you want scraped, and what the target labels will be. So if you want to say scrape this type of machine but not that one, use relabel_configs.

metric_relabel_configs by contrast are applied after the scrape has happened, but before the data is ingested by the storage system. So if there are some expensive metrics you want to drop, or labels coming from the scrape itself (e.g. from the /metrics page) that you want to manipulate that's where  metric_relabel_configs applies.

So as a simple rule of thumb: relabel_config happens before the scrape, metric_relabel_configs happens after the scrape. And if one doesn't work you can always try the other!


Need help with relabelling? Contact us.