MongoDB 101: 5 Configuration Options That Impact Performance and How to Set Them

MongoDB configuration options that impact PerformanceAs with any database platform, MongoDB performance is of paramount importance to keeping your application running quickly.   In this blog post, we’ll show you five configuration options that can impact the performance for your MongoDB Deployment and will help keep your database fast and performing at its peak.

MongoDB Performance Overview

MongoDB performance consists of several factors; there’s OS Settings, DB Configuration Settings, DB Internal Settings, Memory Settings, and Application Settings.  This post is going to focus on the MongoDB database configuration options around performance and how to set them.  These options are ones that are set in the database configuration itself that can impact your performance.

Configuration Options

So how do we ensure our performance configuration options are enabled or set up correctly?  And which ones are the most important?  We’ll now go through five configuration options that will help your MongoDB environment be performant!

MongoDB uses a configuration file in the YAML file format.  The configuration file is usually found in the following locations, depending on your Operating System:


  • On Linux, a default /etc/mongod.conf configuration file is included when using a package manager to install MongoDB.
  • On Windows, a default <install directory>/bin/mongod.cfg configuration file is included during the installation.
  • On macOS, a default /usr/local/etc/mongod.conf configuration file is included when installing from MongoDB’s official Homebrew tap.



Our first configuration option to help with your MongoDB performance is storage.wiredTiger.engineConfig.cacheSizeGB.

Since MongoDB 3.0, MongoDB has used WiredTiger as its default Storage Engine, so we’ll be examining MongoDB Memory Performance from a WiredTiger perspective. By default, MongoDB will reserve 50% of the available memory – 1 GB for the WiredTiger cache or 256 MB, whichever is greater.  For example, a system with 16 GB of RAM would have a WiredTiger cache size of 7.5 GB.

The size of this cache is important to ensure WiredTiger is performant. It’s worth taking a look to see if you should alter it from the default. A good rule of thumb is that the size of the cache should be large enough to hold the entire application working set.

Note that if you’re in a containerized environment, you may also need to set the configuration option to 50% – 1 GB of the memory that is available to the container.  MongoDB may adhere to the container’s memory limits or it may get the host’s memory limit, depending on how the system call is returned when MongoDB asks.  You can verify what MongoDB believes the memory limit is by running:

And checking the hostinfo.system.memLimitMB value.  This is available from MongoDB 3.6.13+ and MongoDB 4.0.9+ forward.

How do we know whether to increase or decrease our cache size? Look at the cache usage statistics: