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Identifying Unused Variables With Terraform: A Step-By-Step Guide

Terraform Module Variables - Daily Check-in for July 7, 2020

Terraform Find Unused Variables

Why is finding unused variables important in Terraform?

Terraform is an incredibly powerful infrastructure as code (IaC) tool that allows you to define and provision infrastructure resources across various cloud providers. One of the core features of Terraform is the use of variables, which allow you to parameterize your infrastructure configurations and make them more reusable, flexible, and maintainable.

However, as your infrastructure configurations grow larger and more complex, it becomes increasingly important to manage and optimize these variables effectively. Unused variables can lead to potential issues and introduce unnecessary complexity in your Terraform codebase. They can make your configurations harder to understand, debug, and maintain. Additionally, unused variables can result in wasted resources, increased deployment time, and potential misconfigurations.

Overview of Terraform variables:

Before diving into the importance of finding unused variables in Terraform, let’s first understand the types of variables that Terraform supports:

1. Input Variables: These variables act as parameters for your Terraform configurations and are typically defined in a `` file. Input variables are user-defined and can be used to make your infrastructure configurations more dynamic and reusable.

2. Local Variables: Local variables are defined using expressions and can be used to simplify complex configuration logic or to store intermediate values within your Terraform code.

3. Environment Variables: Terraform also supports the use of environment variables to pass configuration values. Environment variables can be useful when you need to provide sensitive or dynamic information to your Terraform configurations.

The potential issues caused by unused variables:

Unused variables in Terraform can have several negative impacts on your infrastructure development and management process. Some of the potential issues caused by unused variables include:

1. Code Complexity: When your Terraform codebase contains unused variables, it becomes more challenging to understand and maintain. Developers coming onboard may struggle to differentiate between important and redundant variables, leading to confusion and potentially costly mistakes.

2. Resource Waste: Unused variables can result in the deployment of unnecessary infrastructure resources, leading to wasted resources and increased costs. These resources can accumulate over time if the unused variables are not identified and cleaned up.

3. Deployment Time: Unused variables can slow down your deployment process as Terraform tries to evaluate and process unnecessary variables. This can lead to longer deployment times and slower iteration cycles.

4. Misconfigurations: Unused variables can introduce the risk of misconfiguration. If a variable is left unused and not properly maintained, it can remain outdated or misaligned with other infrastructure components, resulting in unexpected behaviors or failures.

Methods and tools for identifying unused variables in Terraform:

There are two primary approaches to identifying unused variables in Terraform: a manual approach and an automated approach.

1. Manual approach for finding unused variables:

The manual approach involves carefully reviewing your Terraform codebase and identifying variables that are not being used. This can be done by:

– Conducting code reviews and analyzing the usage of each variable across your infrastructure configurations.
– Leveraging development IDEs or text editors that provide static analysis and code navigation features. These tools can help you quickly jump to variable references and detect any unused variables.

While the manual approach can be effective for small codebases, it becomes impractical for larger and more complex projects. It requires a significant amount of time and effort and is prone to human errors.

2. Automated approach for finding unused variables:

To overcome the limitations of the manual approach, several tools have been developed specifically for identifying unused variables in Terraform code:

– TFLint: TFLint is a popular open-source linting tool for Terraform that provides various checks and rules to improve the quality of your code. TFLint includes a rule called `unused_variable` that detects variables that are defined but not used within your configurations.

– Terraform Cleaner: Terraform Cleaner is an open-source command-line tool that helps you identify and manage unused resources, variables, and modules in your Terraform codebase. It provides a simple interface for scanning your code and highlighting any unused variables.

These automated tools significantly reduce the time and effort required to identify unused variables in your Terraform configurations. They provide a more comprehensive and accurate analysis, giving you confidence in the cleanliness and efficiency of your code.

Best practices for managing variables in Terraform:

To avoid the issues caused by unused variables and ensure clean and maintainable Terraform code, it is essential to follow some best practices for managing variables:

1. Documentation: Maintain detailed documentation that clearly explains the purpose and usage of each variable. This helps in understanding the role of the variables and identifying any redundant ones.

2. Regular Code Reviews: Conduct regular code reviews and include analysis of variable usage as part of the review process. This helps identify and rectify any unused variables early in the development cycle.

3. Test Coverage: Include tests in your Terraform codebase that cover the usage of variables. This helps detect any unused variables during the testing phase before deploying infrastructure resources.

4. Regular Cleanup: Periodically review and clean up your Terraform codebase to remove any unused variables. This helps maintain code clarity, performance, and cost efficiency.


Q1. How does TFLint’s `unused_variable` rule work?

TFLint’s `unused_variable` rule parses your Terraform codebase and identifies variables that are defined but not used within your configurations. It provides clear and actionable feedback, indicating the specific variables that are unused.

Q2. What is the difference between TFLint and Terraform validate?

TFLint and Terraform validate are both tools used for validating Terraform configurations but serve different purposes. Terraform validate focuses on the syntax and internal consistency of your configurations, while TFLint provides additional checks and rules to improve code quality and detect potential issues beyond syntax errors.

Q3. What is the `terraform_deprecated_index` rule in TFLint?

`terraform_deprecated_index` is a rule provided by TFLint that detects deprecated index reference in Terraform configurations. It helps identify instances where outdated or unsupported index references are used, ensuring code compatibility with newer versions of Terraform.

Q4. How can I ignore specific TFLint rules for a particular file?

TFLint provides a mechanism called `tflint-ignore` to exclude specific rules from being applied to a particular file. By defining patterns or file paths in a `.tflint.hcl` or `.tflint.yaml` file, you can ignore specific rules selectively.

Q5. Does GitLab support TFLint integration?

Yes, GitLab supports TFLint integration as part of its CI/CD pipeline. This allows you to automate the execution of TFLint checks during the code review and deployment process, ensuring code quality at every stage.

Q6. Can TFLint be used with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) deployments?

Yes, TFLint supports GCP deployments and provides specific rules and checks tailored for GCP resources. This helps ensure that your Terraform code follows best practices and GCP-specific guidelines.

Q7. What does it mean when a Terraform module is not pinned or sourced?

When a Terraform module is not pinned or sourced, it means that the module is not explicitly locked to a specific version or source. It can lead to potential issues, such as unexpected module behavior or compatibility problems when new versions of the module are released. It’s considered best practice to pin or source modules to ensure consistent and predictable deployments.

In conclusion, finding and removing unused variables in Terraform is crucial for ensuring code clarity, performance, cost efficiency, and reducing the risk of misconfigurations. By following best practices and leveraging tools like TFLint and Terraform Cleaner, you can easily identify and resolve unused variables in your Terraform codebase, leading to cleaner and more maintainable infrastructure configurations.

Terraform Module Variables – Daily Check-In For July 7, 2020

Which Tool Can Be Used To Detect Unused Variables In Terraform Scripts?

Which tool can be used to detect unused variables in Terraform scripts?

Terraform is an open-source infrastructure as code tool that allows users to create, manage, and provision infrastructure resources in a cloud environment. It uses a declarative configuration language called HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL) to define the desired state of infrastructure resources. Variables are a crucial part of any Terraform project as they provide the ability to parameterize configuration and make it more flexible.

Unused variables can be problematic in Terraform scripts as they can result in unnecessary complexity, confusion, and potential bugs. Detecting and removing unused variables is an important best practice to maintain clean and efficient Terraform code. Thankfully, there are several tools available that can help identify unused variables and improve the overall quality of your Terraform scripts.

One popular tool that can be used to detect unused variables in Terraform scripts is called TFLint. TFLint is a linter for Terraform that analyzes your code for potential errors, inefficiencies, and style violations. It supports various rulesets and can be easily extended with custom rules. To detect unused variables, TFLint provides a rule called `variable-unused`. This rule checks for unused variables and provides helpful feedback to the user.

To use TFLint, you first need to install it on your system. You can find installation instructions for your specific operating system on the official TFLint documentation. Once installed, you can run TFLint on your Terraform project by navigating to the project directory and running the command `tflint`. TFLint will automatically analyze your code and report any issues it finds, including unused variables.

When TFLint detects an unused variable, it provides a meaningful error message that includes the name of the variable. This allows developers to easily identify and remove unused variables from their Terraform scripts. The ability to catch unused variables early in the development process can save time and effort, as it prevents potential issues from occurring at runtime.


Q: Why should I care about detecting unused variables in my Terraform scripts?
A: Unused variables can lead to unnecessary complexity in your code and can potentially introduce bugs. By detecting and removing unused variables, you can improve the overall quality, readability, and maintainability of your Terraform scripts.

Q: Are there any other tools besides TFLint that can detect unused variables in Terraform?
A: Yes, there are other tools available, such as Checkov and Terraform Validate. Checkov is an open-source static analysis tool that supports multiple cloud platforms and can detect unused variables among many other potential misconfigurations. Terraform Validate is a command-line tool that focuses on validating Terraform configuration files and can also detect unused variables as part of its checks.

Q: How often should I run the tool to detect unused variables?
A: It is recommended to run the tool regularly, preferably as part of your continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. By integrating the tool into your development workflow, you can catch unused variables early and ensure that your Terraform scripts remain clean and efficient.

Q: Can unused variables be safely ignored?
A: While it is technically possible to ignore unused variables, it is generally not recommended. Ignoring unused variables goes against best practices for clean and maintainable code. By removing unused variables, you reduce complexity, improve readability, and minimize the potential for bugs.

Q: Does the tool only detect unused variables, or does it detect other issues as well?
A: The tools mentioned, such as TFLint, Checkov, and Terraform Validate, offer a wide range of checks beyond just detecting unused variables. They can identify potential configuration errors, security vulnerabilities, and style violations, among other issues. Using such tools goes beyond cleaning up unused variables and helps ensure the overall quality and correctness of your Terraform code.

In conclusion, detecting unused variables in Terraform scripts is essential to maintain clean and efficient infrastructure as code. Tools like TFLint, Checkov, and Terraform Validate provide valuable assistance in identifying and removing unused variables, as well as other potential issues. By utilizing these tools and following best practices, developers can create better, more maintainable Terraform code.

Where Are Terraform Variables Stored?

Where are Terraform variables stored?

Terraform, an infrastructure as code tool, allows users to build, change, and version infrastructure efficiently. It simplifies the process of creating and managing infrastructure, ensuring that it is consistent and reproducible. One key feature of Terraform is the use of variables, which enable users to define inputs and customize their infrastructure deployments. These variables can be stored in various locations depending on the usage and requirements of the user.

In this article, we will explore the different places where Terraform variables can be stored and how they can be used effectively.

1. Inline variable assignment:
Inline variable assignment is the most basic and straightforward way of defining variables in Terraform. In this method, variables are declared directly within the Terraform configuration files. This approach is suitable for small and simple deployments where the number of variables is limited. However, it is not recommended for larger projects because it can lead to cluttered code and reduced readability.

2. Environment variables:
Terraform also allows users to define variables using environment variables. Environment variables provide a convenient way to store sensitive information, such as API keys or passwords, separately from the code. By utilizing environment variables, developers can ensure that sensitive data remains secure and easily manageable. Environment variables are set in the host operating system or within the CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment) pipeline, making them accessible to Terraform when it runs.

3. tfvars files:
Terraform supports the use of tfvars files to store variables. These files contain key-value pairs, where the keys are the variable names and the values are the assigned values for those variables. It is a recommended practice to organize these files based on the environment or deployment stage, such as production.tfvars or staging.tfvars. By utilizing tfvars files, variables can be easily managed, shared, and version controlled. When running Terraform commands, users can specify the tfvars file(s) to be used, enabling flexibility and re-usability.

4. CLI flags or command-line variables:
Terraform provides the capability to pass variables directly through command-line flags while executing Terraform commands. This approach is suitable for one-time or temporary variables that do not require a structured and organized approach. However, it can become cumbersome to manage multiple variables using this method, as the number of flags passed to Terraform may increase.

5. Variable interpolation:
Variable interpolation is a powerful feature of Terraform that allows users to reference variables within other variable definitions or throughout the configuration files. This feature promotes flexibility and re-usability by enabling the use of calculated or dynamic values for variables. Variable interpolation can be used to combine values from different sources, such as inline assignments, environment variables, or tfvars files, allowing for intricate variable definitions.


Q: Can I override a variable defined in an inline assignment using an environment variable?
A: Yes, Terraform follows a predefined hierarchy for variable precedence. If a variable is defined in multiple locations, the one with the highest priority will take precedence. Hence, an environment variable can override the value of a variable declared inline.

Q: How can I secure sensitive information stored in variables?
A: Storing sensitive information, such as passwords or API keys, in plain text within variables is not secure. It is recommended to use environment variables or secure file systems like Vault to store sensitive data separately from the codebase.

Q: Can I use multiple tfvars files simultaneously?
A: Yes, Terraform allows users to use multiple tfvars files together. When running Terraform commands, users can specify multiple tfvars files using the -var-file flag. This provides flexibility in managing different variables based on different environments or deployment stages.

Q: Are variables limited to static values only?
A: No, Terraform variables are not limited to static values. They can be dynamic and calculated using variable interpolation. This feature allows users to define variables that are based on other variables or derived using custom logic.

In conclusion, Terraform provides various options for storing variables, ranging from inline assignments to environment variables, tfvars files, and command-line flags. Each method serves a specific purpose and should be chosen based on the size and complexity of the project. By leveraging the appropriate variable storage method, Terraform users can ensure efficient, scalable, and secure infrastructure deployments.

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Categories: Top 62 Terraform Find Unused Variables

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Tflint Unused Variables

Title: Understanding TFLint’s Unused Variables and How They Improve Terraform’s Efficiency


TFLint is a popular linter for Terraform developed by wata727. It brings several benefits to the table, with one of its key features being the identification of unused variables. This article will delve into the concept of unused variables, explore why they matter, and understand how TFLint can assist in identifying and rectifying such inefficiencies within Terraform code. Let’s explore this topic in depth.

What are Unused Variables?

In the context of Terraform, unused variables refer to variables that have been defined but are not referenced anywhere within the codebase. These variables can potentially hinder Terraform’s performance, consumption of resources, and overall readability. Identifying and eliminating them offers several advantages, including reducing the risks of misconfiguration, increasing efficiency, and enhancing maintainability.

Why Do Unused Variables Matter?

1. Avoiding Misconfiguration: Unused variables can often result from a lack of proper resource planning and configuration. When left unaddressed, they may lead to inconsistencies and errors in the infrastructure deployment process. By identifying and eliminating unused variables, TFLint helps reduce the chances of misconfiguration and improves the overall reliability of your infrastructure.

2. Enhanced Efficiency: Unused variables take up unnecessary storage space, both in memory and on the disk. These additional resources can ultimately slow down the Terraform workflow, particularly during large-scale deployments. Eliminating unused variables can optimize the overall performance and speed up the execution of Terraform plans.

3. Improved Readability and Maintainability: When unused variables clutter your codebase, it becomes more challenging to understand and maintain the infrastructure-as-code (IaC) configurations. With a large number of irrelevant variables, future developers may face difficulties in comprehending and modifying the codebase efficiently. Identifying and removing unused variables using TFLint promotes code cleanliness and enhances the overall code quality, making maintenance easier.

How TFLint Identifies Unused Variables:

TFLint employs a set of rules to identify unused variables effectively. By analyzing your Terraform codebase, TFLint scans the configuration files and detects any instances where variables have been declared but remain unused within the code.

TFLint also provides customizable rule configuration options, allowing developers to fine-tune its behavior according to specific requirements. This level of customization ensures that developers can flexibly adapt TFLint’s unified code style to match their project’s needs.

Integration with CI/CD Pipelines:

TFLint’s unused variable analysis can be seamlessly integrated into Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. By incorporating TFLint as part of the CI/CD process, developers can automatically detect and address unused variables, reducing the likelihood of deploying underperforming infrastructure configurations.


Q1. Can TFLint detect unused variables in modules?

Yes, TFLint can certainly detect unused variables within modules. It searches through every file within the Terraform codebase, including modules, to pinpoint unused variables. This ability ensures comprehensive coverage during the linting process, allowing developers to optimize their modules as well.

Q2. Can TFLint identify variables passed through data sources?

TFLint is intelligent enough to handle variables that are passed through data sources in your Terraform code. It considers all scenarios where variables are used or passed as inputs throughout the entirety of your codebase, ensuring accurate detection of unused variables.

Q3. What if I have multiple variable declarations in different files?

TFLint analyzes all files within the Terraform codebase, meaning it can identify unused variables even if their declarations are spread across multiple files. This capability ensures complete coverage across your entire configuration.

Q4. Can TFLint fix the unused variables automatically?

At present, TFLint does not have a built-in automatic fixer for unused variables. However, TFLint provides detailed information about which variables are unused, enabling developers to quickly eliminate these variables manually.


Unused variables within Terraform code can introduce a range of issues like misconfiguration, decreased efficiency, and code maintenance challenges. Fortunately, TFLint offers a powerful solution for identifying and addressing these unused variables. By leveraging TFLint’s analysis within your CI/CD pipelines, you can ensure the cleanliness, efficiency, and maintainability of your Terraform infrastructure-as-code configurations. Take advantage of TFLint and optimize your Terraform codebase today!

Terraform Cleaner

Terraform Cleaner: Bringing a New Level of Cleanliness to Your Space

Cleanliness and hygiene have always been essential factors in our day-to-day lives, and never has it been more crucial than now. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has become paramount to maintain a clean environment to ensure the safety of ourselves and those around us. As a result, cleaning products and technologies have become more advanced and innovative. One such cutting-edge product is Terraform Cleaner, which is revolutionizing the way we maintain cleanliness in our spaces. In this article, we will delve deep into the world of Terraform Cleaner, its features, benefits, and frequently asked questions.

What is Terraform Cleaner?

Terraform Cleaner is a state-of-the-art, all-in-one cleaning device that combines modern technology with superior cleaning capabilities. It is designed to make the cleaning process more efficient, convenient, and environmentally friendly. This innovative cleaning gadget is suitable for use in various settings, including homes, offices, hospitals, schools, hotels, and more. With Terraform Cleaner, you can achieve a high level of cleanliness without the need for multiple cleaning tools or harmful chemicals.

Features and Benefits of Terraform Cleaner:

1. Powerful Cleaning: Terraform Cleaner utilizes advanced cleaning technology, including ultrasonic vibrations, high-pressure steam, and eco-friendly cleaning agents, to remove dirt, grime, stains, and bacteria effectively. Its multi-functional design enables it to clean floors, carpets, windows, furniture, and even delicate surfaces like electronics or fabrics.

2. Versatility: With multiple attachments and cleaning modes, Terraform Cleaner is versatile and adaptable for any cleaning task. It comes with specialized brushes, nozzles, and mops that can be easily interchanged, making it suitable for various surfaces and hard-to-reach areas.

3. Time and Energy Saving: Traditional cleaning methods can be time-consuming and exhausting. However, with Terraform Cleaner, you can save both time and energy. Its advanced cleaning mechanisms, such as the high-pressure steam and powerful suction, ensure thorough and quick cleaning.

4. Eco-Friendly: Terraform Cleaner is designed with sustainability in mind. It reduces the need for excessive water usage and eliminates the necessity of harsh chemical cleaners, making it an environmentally friendly choice. By investing in Terraform Cleaner, you contribute to creating a greener future.

5. Allergen Reduction: Terraform Cleaner’s high-pressure steam cleaning not only removes visible dirt and stains but also effectively kills bacteria, germs, and allergens. This advanced cleaning technology helps maintain a healthier environment, especially for individuals with allergies or respiratory conditions.

6. Ease of Use: Terraform Cleaner is designed for user convenience and ease of use. It features a user-friendly interface with touch controls, adjustable settings, and an easy-to-read display. Its lightweight design and maneuverability make it effortless to navigate around furniture and tight spaces.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q1: Is Terraform Cleaner safe to use on delicate surfaces?

A1: Yes, Terraform Cleaner is safe to use on delicate surfaces. It comes with various attachments suitable for different cleaning tasks, including delicate surfaces like electronics or fabrics. However, it is always recommended to test a small inconspicuous area before proceeding with extensive cleaning.

Q2: Can Terraform Cleaner be used on both hard floors and carpets?

A2: Absolutely! Terraform Cleaner is equipped with interchangeable cleaning heads, allowing it to effectively clean both hard floors and carpets. It adapts to different surfaces and can adjust its suction power accordingly.

Q3: Does Terraform Cleaner eliminate the need for chemical cleaners?

A3: Yes, Terraform Cleaner eliminates the need for chemical cleaners. It utilizes high-pressure steam and eco-friendly cleaning agents to effectively remove dirt, stains, and bacteria without the use of harsh chemicals. This helps create a safer and healthier environment for you and your family.

Q4: How often should I clean the filters and attachments of Terraform Cleaner?

A4: It is recommended to clean the filters and attachments of Terraform Cleaner after each use. This ensures optimal performance and prolongs the lifespan of the device. Instructions on how to clean the filters and attachments can be found in the user manual provided with the product.

Q5: How long is the warranty period for Terraform Cleaner?

A5: Terraform Cleaner comes with a standard one-year warranty, covering any manufacturing defects or faults. However, it is always advisable to check the warranty terms and conditions provided by the manufacturer.

In conclusion, Terraform Cleaner brings a new level of cleanliness to any space. With its powerful cleaning capabilities, versatility, and eco-friendly design, it offers a comprehensive solution to all your cleaning needs. By investing in Terraform Cleaner, you can achieve a pristine and hygienic environment effortlessly. Embrace the future of cleaning with Terraform Cleaner!

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