MongoDB Utilities

You can use almost any of the standard MongoDB utilities with our platform, but here are some examples of how to use the most common.


mongodump is used to create a binary export of your mongodb instance. When run against a sharded instance it’s routed through a mongos, or directly from the primary when using a replica set.

We recommend the following when using mongodump:

  • Verify connectivity to the instance (ACLs, etc.)
  • Match the version of mongodump against your instance by running mongodump --version
  • If your mongo instance is 2.6+ verify the user has the necessary privileges and roles to perform a backup if you’re not on ObjectRocket.
  • Specify the location for the output using the -o flag


NOTE! If you don’t specify a location when running mongodump, it creates a folder named dump in your current directory and overwrites anything currently existing in the dump/ folder.

Here’s what the basic usage looks like, backing up from the host, on port 12345, from the database example with the username example_user, to the folder named backup using -o:

$ mongodump --host -d example_db -u example_user -p -o backup

Now, let’s examine some other common flags:

  • Backup a single collection within a database using -c
$ mongodump --host -d example_db -c coll_example -u example_user -p -o backup
  • Backup documents returned by a particular query using -q
$ mongodump --host -u example_user -p -d example_db -q '{ _id : { $gte : ObjectId("50ad7bce1a3e927d690385ec") } }'


When using -q it’s very important to wrap the json query in single quotes, (e.g. ') so it doesn’t interact with your shell. Sometimes escaping is necessary depending on the query as well.

When you examine the contents of the backup directory you’ll see .json and .bson files. The .bson files are binary data, and the .json files contain metadata. You can compress the backups as expected using gzip or any preferred method. To perform restores both bson and json files are necessary, so be sure to include those in your compressed files.


mongorestore writes data from a backup created by mongodump to a mongodb instance. mongorestore can create a new database or add data to an existing database.

In the example below we’re restoring to the host, on port 12345, to the database usda, using the yoda user, from the backup folder of dump/usda/. This will restore everything in that folder to the specified database. In the example we’re using the 3.0 binaries, as they restore in parallel, but we always recommend matching the binary you’re using with the version you’re restoring to.

$ mongorestore --host -d usda -u yoda -p dump/usda/
2015-08-12T08:41:06.330-0700 building a list of collections to restore from dump/usda/ dir
2015-08-12T08:41:06.637-0700 reading metadata file from dump/usda/nutrition.metadata.json
2015-08-12T08:41:06.637-0700 restoring usda.nutrition from file dump/usda/nutrition.bson
2015-08-12T08:41:09.330-0700 [############............] usda.nutrition 32.0
2015-08-12T08:41:45.330-0700 [########################] usda.nutrition 62.2 MB/62.2 MB (100.0%)
2015-08-12T08:41:45.895-0700 restoring indexes for collection usda.nutrition from metadata
2015-08-12T08:41:46.359-0700 finished restoring usda.nutrition 2015-08-12T08:41:46.359-0700 done


mongorestore will not overwrite existing documents nor update, it will only insert. It also does not wait for a response from the target server, and any insertion failures are logged to the target logs, not to STDOUT.

Here are the common flags used with mongorestore:

  • --drop will drop the collection you’re attempting to restore to prior to any inserts.
  • --noIndexRestore will not restore indexes found in the metadata json files.
  • --stopOnError will stop restoring upon an error, rather than continuing silently.


mongoexport is used for exporting your data to CSV, TSV, or JSON files, which are more human readable and can be used with more applications. It should be noted that unlike mongodump you cannot export the entirety of a database and must specify a collection.

Here’s a basic example, using the host, the port 12345, the database zips, the collection zips, and outputting to a JSON file zips.json.

$ mongoexport --host -d zips -c zips -u USER -p PASSWORD --type json -o zips.json
  • By default, mongoexport will use the -k flag and use any available secondaries.
  • When using --type you’ll need to specify either json or csv. json is the default and is used when no type is specified. csv has to be used in conjunction with --fields or the --fieldFile option to specify the fields to export from the collection.

Here’s an example using csv and --fields:

$ mongoexport --host -d zips -c zips -u USER -p PASSWORD --type csv --fields name,address -o zips.csv

As with mongodump and mongorestore you’re able to specify queries for your export using the -q argument.

$ mongoexport --host -d zips -c zips -u USER -p PASSWORD -q '{ zips : { $gt : 60000 } }' -o zips.json


mongoimport is the opposite of mongoexport, and ingests json or csv into MongoDB.

Here’s a basic example importing zips.json into the host, using the 12345 port, into the zips database and collection.

$ mongoimport --host -d zips -c zips -u USER -p PASSWORD --file zips.json

If the database and collection don’t exist on the host you’re importing to, mongoimport will create them, just as with mongorestore.

Here are some of the more important flags to be aware of when using mongoimport:

  • --fields must be used when importing csv that do not include the field names in the header of the file.
  • --ignoreBlanks will ignore empty fields in csv or tsv imports. If not specified, mongoimport will create fields without values in those documents.
  • --drop will drop the collection you’re inserting to before it begins the import.
  • --stopOnError will stop the import upon the first error rather than continuing.
  • --upsert will update existing documents if they match an imported document.
  • --upsertFields lets you specify what to match when using --upsert. The default match when not specified uses _id.
  • --writeConcern lets you specify what writeConcern to use when importing. The normal writeConcern options apply here.