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Shard a Global Collection

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Important
Feature unavailable in Serverless Instances

Serverless instances don't support this feature at this time. To learn more, see Serverless Instance Limitations.

Note
  • Global writes are only supported on global clusters, which require an M30+ cluster tier.
  • This document assumes prior knowledge of sharding semantics. Review the Sharding documentation before continuing with this tutorial.

In sharded clusters, you can create zones of sharded data based on the shard key. Your zones can segment data based on geographic area. To learn more about sharding based on geographic area, see Segmenting Data by Location.

The Atlas UI supports sharding Global Write collections only inside of a global cluster. To shard non-Global-Write collections, you must use mongosh or application code. To learn more, see Deploy a Sharded Cluster.

You must have the Project Owner or Organization Owner role for the cluster's Atlas project to shard a collection for Global Writes in the Atlas UI.

Review the restrictions and compatibility requirements for Sharding Collections for Global Writes before beginning this procedure.

You can configure Online Archive to move infrequently accessed data from your Atlas cluster to a MongoDB-managed read-only federated database instance instead of sharding your collection or upgrading your cluster tier. To learn more about Online Archive, see Manage Online Archives.

After selecting a shard key via the Atlas UI, Atlas attempts to shard the target collection. During this period, ensure that no user manually shards the collection. If Atlas detects that the target collection was sharded with a different key than the one selected via the Atlas UI, Atlas stops the procedure and displays a warning for that collection in the Atlas UI. You can click Unmanage Collection to clear the warning. This action removes the collection from Atlas management while leaving the underlying collection and the manually chosen shard key intact.

Starting in MongoDB 4.2, you can update a document’s shard key value unless the shard key field is the immutable _id field. To learn more, see Change a Document’s Shard Key Value.

In MongoDB 4.0 and earlier, you can't update the value of a shard key field in an existing document in a Global Writes-enabled collection.

To shard a collection in a Global Cluster:

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You can choose one of the following:

Default
Atlas uses the document that specifies the field or fields as the shard key.
Use unique index as the shard key
Atlas uses the underlying index to enforce a unique constraint on the shard key of the Global Collection.
Use hashed index as the shard key

Atlas distributes the sharded data evenly by hashing the second field of the shard key. This option is only available for Atlas clusters running MongoDB v4.4 or later.

You can optionally select Pre-split data for even distribution to specify whether to perform initial chunk creation and distribution for an empty or non-existing collection based on the defined zones and zone ranges for the collection.

If you select the Pre-split data for even distribution option, you can also specify the minimum number of chunks to create initially when sharding an empty collection with a hashed shard key. Initial chunk distribution allows Atlas to setup zoned sharding quickly. The number of chunks the Atlas creates depends on the number of zones that you define. By default, Atlas creates one chunk per location code and distributes chunks evenly across all shards.

To learn more about these options, see Global Cluster Sharding Reference.

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Atlas displays the compound shard key near the top of the Global Writes tab after configuring the collection.

The following sections describe sharding behavior and how to enable sharding for Manage Global Clusters.

Unsharded collections must meet the following compatibility requirements prior to sharding to use Global Writes when sharded:

  • Every document in the collection must include a location field.
  • The value of the location field must be either an ISO-3166-1 alpha 2 country code ("US", "DE", "IN") or a supported ISO-3166-2 subdivision code ("US-DC", "DE-BE", "IN-DL"). Documents that don't match this criteria can't be routed to any shard in the cluster. To view the complete list of currently supported country or subdivision codes, see https://cloud.mongodb.com/static/atlas/country_iso_codes.txt.

A shard key on the location field alone might result in bottlenecks, especially for workloads where a subset of countries or subdivisions receive the majority of write operations. Atlas Global Writes requires a compound shard key to facilitate the efficient distribution of sharded data across the cluster. Atlas Global Cluster shard keys share the same restrictions as MongoDB shard keys. The following Atlas Global Cluster limitations apply:

  • The first field of the compound shard key must be location and can't be hashed.
  • There can only be one secondary shard key field in a compound shard key.
  • Starting in MongoDB version 4.4, the secondary shard key field of a compound shard key can be hashed.
  • The secondary shard key field can't be an array.
Tip
See also:

To learn more about:

Important
Changing the Shard Key

After sharding, what you can modify depends on the version of MongoDB that you run:

MongoDB Version
Modify Shard Key Keys
Modify Shard Key Values
MongoDB 4.0
No
No
MongoDB 4.2
No
Yes
MongoDB 4.4
Yes, add fields to a key using the Atlas UI only.
Yes
MongoDB 5.0
Yes, add fields to a key using the Atlas UI only.
Yes

The Atlas UI supports creating sharded collections with specific validations for Global Writes.

You can also use mongosh to execute the sh.shardCollection(). After sharding the collection, you must use the Atlas UI to enable Global Writes for that collection.

Tip
See also:

To learn more about sharding collections via the Atlas UI, see Shard a Global Collection for Global Writes in the Atlas UI.

Shard keys use hashed sharding and pre-split data for even distribution. This is only available on Atlas clusters running MongoDB 4.4 and later.

Atlas distributes the sharded data evenly by hashing the second field of the shard key if you perform one of the following actions:

  • Enable the use of the hashed index shard keys by selecting Use hashed index as the shard key in the Atlas UI.
  • Set isCustomShardKeyHashed through the API.

You can optionally specify whether to perform initial chunk creation and distribution for an empty or non-existing collection. This action is based on the defined zones and zone ranges for the collection. To do this, perform one of the following actions:

  • Select Pre-split data for even distribution in the Atlas UI.
  • Set presplitHashedZone using the API.

When you create a sharded collection using a compound hashed shard key for Global Clusters, Atlas creates at least 1 chunk per location code and attempts to distribute chunks evenly across shards in the cluster.

You can also specify the minimum number of chunks to create initially when sharding an empty collection with a hashed shard key using the Atlas UI or by setting the numInitialChunks parameter through the API.

Note

If you specify the number of chunks per shard, Atlas creates at least the minimum number of chunks that you specified, with the same number of chunks per location code. If you specify the minimum number of chunks, Atlas sets up zoned sharding quickly, especially if you already know how to geographically distribute your data before sharding.

If Atlas encounters an error while sharding a collection for global writes, a message appears in the banner at the top of the screen.

  1. Click See Details to learn about the error and the namespace where the error occured. A modal window appears with the complete error message and a Fix Now button.
  2. Click Close and navigate to the collection in the Atlas UI. You can also click the Fix Now button to go to the Atlas UI for that Atlas cluster.
  3. Click the Global Writes tab for the collection mentioned in the error message.
  4. Click Unmanage Collection to cancel the global writes sharding operation. You must have the Project Data Access Admin role to cancel the sharding operation.

After you make any necessary changes to the collection as indicated by the error message, you can start the sharding process again.

Possible errors include:

An index already exists on the custom shard key.
If the field chosen as the second part of the compound shard key is already indexed, the sharding operation may fail.
The shard key field is not present.
All documents in the collection must contain both the shard key fields. This error occurs only in versions earlier than MongoDB 4.4.
The collection is already sharded.
If the collection has already been manually sharded, the operation fails.
The collection has a custom default collation.
A custom default collation on the collection may cause a sharding error.

For each document in a write operation, MongoDB uses the location field of the shard key (if included) to determine the zone to route the data to. MongoDB selects a shard associated to that zone as the target for writing the document, facilitating geographically isolated and segmented data storage.

Warning

If a shard key isn't included in the write operation, or a shard key is included, but the location field isn't present, the write operation will succeed, but the resulting documents will not to be distributed.

MongoDB can guarantee this behavior only for inserted documents that meet the criteria defined in Sharding Collections for Global Writes. Specifically, MongoDB can route a document whose location field doesn't conform to ISO-3166-1 alpha 2 or ISO-3166-2 to any shard in the cluster.

MongoDB query routing depends on whether the read operation includes the full shard key and that the location value corresponds to a supported ISO-3166-1 alpha 2 country code ("US", "DE", "IN") or a supported ISO-3166-2 subdivision code ("US-DC", "DE-BE", "IN-DL").

  • For queries that do include the full shard key and whose location value meets the requirements for Global Writes, MongoDB targets the read operation to the zone that maps to the location value or values specified in the query.
  • For read operations that don't include the location value , or if the location value doesn't correspond to a supported ISO-3166-1 alpha 2 country code or ISO-3166-2 subdivision code, MongoDB must broadcast the read operation to every zone in the cluster.
  • For Global Writes zones that have Read-only nodes in geographically distant regions, clients in those regions can query the local Read-only node for that zone by specifying the full shard key as part of the query and issuing the read operation with a Read Preference of nearest.
Important

Secondary reads might return stale data depending on the level of replication lag between the secondary node and the primary.

Tip
See also:

To learn more about:

Global Writes clusters support the same Ranged and Hashed sharding strategies as a standard Atlas sharded cluster. For sharded collections whose shard keys and document schema don't support Global Writes, MongoDB distributes the sharded data evenly across the available shards in the cluster with respect to the chosen shard key. Consider using a separate sharded cluster for data that can't take advantage of Global Writes.

You can't modify a collection to support Global Writes after sharding. We recommend that you choose a shard key that will allow you to use Global Writes for a collection in the future.

Tip
See also:

To learn more about Global Writes sharding requirements, see Sharding Collections for Global Writes.

Global Clusters provide the same support for unsharded collections as a standard Atlas sharded cluster. For each database in the cluster, MongoDB stores its unsharded collections on a primary shard. Use sh.status() from mongosh to determine the primary shard for the database.

←  Manage Global ClustersMove a Cluster to a Different Region →
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