Gradle maintains a Virtual File System (VFS) to calculate what needs to be rebuilt on repeat builds of a project. By watching the file system, Gradle keeps the VFS current between builds.


Gradle enables file system watching by default for supported operating systems since Gradle 7.

Run the build with the '--watch-fs' flag to force file system watching for a build.

To force file system watching for all builds (unless disabled with --no-watch-fs), add the following value to


To disable file system watching:

  • use the --no-watch-fs flag

  • set in

Supported Operating Systems

Gradle uses native operating system features to watch the file system. Gradle supports file system watching on the following operating systems:

  • Windows 10, version 1709 and later

  • Linux, tested on the following distributions:

    • Ubuntu 16.04 or later

    • CentOS Stream 8 or later

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8 or later

    • Amazon Linux 2 or later

  • macOS 12 (Monterey) or later on Intel and ARM architectures

Supported File Systems

File system watching supports the following file system types:

  • APFS

  • btrfs

  • ext3

  • ext4

  • XFS

  • HFS+

  • NTFS

Gradle also supports VirtualBox’s shared folders.

Network file systems like Samba and NFS are not supported.


File system watching is not compatible with symlinks. If your project files include symlinks, symlinked files do not benefit from file system-watching optimizations.

Unsupported File Systems

When enabled by default, file system watching acts conservatively when it encounters content on unsupported file systems. This can happen if you mount a project directory or subdirectory from a network drive. Gradle doesn’t retain information about unsupported file systems between builds when enabled by default. If you explicitly enable file system watching, Gradle retains information about unsupported file systems between builds.


To view information about Virtual File System (VFS) changes at the beginning and end of a build, enable verbose VFS logging.

Set the org.gradle.vfs.verbose Daemon option to true to enable verbose logging.

You can do this on the command line with the following command:

$ gradle <task> -Dorg.gradle.vfs.verbose=true

Or configure the property in the file in the project root or your Gradle User Home:

This produces the following output at the start and end of the build:

$ gradle assemble --watch-fs -Dorg.gradle.vfs.verbose=true
Received 3 file system events since last build while watching 1 locations
Virtual file system retained information about 2 files, 2 directories and 0 missing files since last build
> Task :compileJava NO-SOURCE
> Task :processResources NO-SOURCE
> Task :classes UP-TO-DATE
> Task :jar UP-TO-DATE
> Task :assemble UP-TO-DATE

1 actionable task: 1 up-to-date
Received 5 file system events during the current build while watching 1 locations
Virtual file system retains information about 3 files, 2 directories and 2 missing files until next build

On Windows and macOS, Gradle might report changes received since the last build, even if you haven’t changed anything. These are harmless notifications about changes to Gradle’s caches and can be safely ignored.


Gradle does not detect some changes

Please let us know on the Gradle community Slack. If a build declares its inputs and outputs correctly, this should not happen. So it’s either a bug we must fix or your build lacks declaration for some inputs or outputs.

VFS state dropped due to lost state

Did you receive a message that reads Dropped VFS state due to lost state during a build? Please let us know on the Gradle community Slack. This means that your build cannot benefit from file system watching for one of the following reasons:

  • the Daemon received an unknown file system event

  • too many changes happened, and the watching API couldn’t handle it

Too many open files on macOS

If you receive the Too many open files error on macOS, raise your open files limit. See this post for more details.

Adjust inotify watches limit on Linux

File system watching uses inotify on Linux. Depending on the size of your build, it may be necessary to increase inotify limits. If you are using an IDE, then you probably already had to increase the limits in the past.

File system watching uses one inotify watch per watched directory. You can see the current limit of inotify watches per user by running:

cat /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches

To increase the limit to e.g. 512K watches run the following:

echo fs.inotify.max_user_watches=524288 | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
sudo sysctl -p --system

Each used inotify watch takes up to 1KB of memory. Assuming inotify uses all the 512K watches then file system watching could use up to 500MB. In a memory-constrained environment, you may want to disable file system watching.

Inspect inotify instances limit on Linux

File system watching initializes one inotify instance per daemon. You can see the current limit of inotify instances per user by running:

cat /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_instances

The default per-user instances limit should be high enough, so we don’t recommend increasing that value manually.