Restore a MongoDB Logical Backup


MongoDB Logical BackupIn this article, we will explain how to restore a MongoDB logical backup performed via ‘mongodump’ to a mongod instance.

MongoDB logical backup requires the use of the ‘mongorestore‘ tool to perform the restore backup. This article focuses on this tool and process.

Note: Percona develops a backup tool named Percona-Lab/mongodb-consistent-backup, which is a wrapper for ‘mongodump‘, adding cluster-wide backup consistency. The backups created by mongodb_consistent_backup (in Dump/Mongodump mode) can be restored using the exact same steps as a regular ‘mongodump’ backup – no special steps!

Mongorestore Command Flags

–host/–port (and –user/–password)

Required, even if you’re using the default host/port (localhost:27017). If authorization is enabled, add –user/–password flags also.


This is almost always required. This causes ‘mongodump‘ to drop the collection that is being restored before restoring it. Without this flag, the documents from the backup are inserted one at a time and if they already exist the restore fails.


This is almost always required. Replays the oplog that was dumped by mongodump. It is best to include this flag on replset-based backups unless there is a specific reason not to. You can tell if the backup was from a replset by looking for the file ‘oplog.bson‘ at the base of the dump directory.


Required. The path to the mongodump data.


Optional. For mongodump >= 3.2, enables inline compression on the restore. This is required if ‘mongodump‘ used the –gzip flag (look for *.bson.gz files if you’re not sure if the collection files have no .gz suffix, don’t use –gzip).


Optional. For mongodump >= 3.2 only, sets the number of collections to insert in parallel. By default four threads are used, and if you have a large server and you want to restore faster (more resource usage though), you could increase this number. Note that each thread uncompresses bson if the ‘–gzip‘ flag is used, so consider this when raising this number.


  1. (Optional) If the backup is archived (mongodb_consistent_backup defaults to creating tar archives), un-archive the backup so that ‘mongorestore‘ can access the .bson/.bson.gz files:

    ** This command un-tars the backup to ‘/opt/mongodb/backup/testbackup/20160809_1306/test1/dump’ **

  2. Check (and then check again!) that you’re restoring the right backup to the right host. When in doubt, it is safer to ask the customer or others.
    1. The Percona ‘mongodb_consistent_backup‘ tool names backup subdirectories by replica set name, so you can ensure you’re restoring the right backup by checking the replica set name of the node you’re restoring to, if it exists.
    2. If you’re restoring to a replica set you will need to restore to the PRIMARY member and there needs to be a majority (so writes are accepted – some exceptions if you override write-concern, but not advised).
  3. Use ‘mongorestore‘ to restore the data by dropping/restoring each collection (–drop flag) and replay the oplog changes (–oplogReplay flag), specifying the restore dir explicitly (–dir flag) to the ‘mongorestore‘ command. In this example I also used authorization (–user/–password flags) and un-compression (–gzip flag):
    1. If you encounter problems with ‘mongorestore‘, carefully read the error message or rerun with several ‘-v‘ flags, e.g.: ‘-vvv‘. Once you have an error, attempt to troubleshoot the cause.
  4. Check to see that you saw “replaying oplog” and “done” after the restore (last two lines in the example). If you don’t see this, there is a problem.

As you notice, using this tool for MongoDB logical backup is very simple. However, when using sharding please note that –oplog is not available and the mongodump uses the primaries for each shard. As this is not advised typically in production, you might consider looking at Percona-Lab/mongodb-consistent-backup to ensure you are consistent and hitting secondary nodes, like mongodump with replica sets, will work.

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