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PHP Library Manual

Server Selection and Monitoring

On this page

  • Server Selection and Monitoring
  • Connection String Options
  • connectTimeoutMS
  • heartbeatFrequencyMS
  • serverSelectionTimeoutMS
  • serverSelectionTryOnce
  • socketCheckIntervalMS
  • socketTimeoutMS

Before any operation can be executed, the MongoDB PHP Library must first select a server from the topology (e.g. replica set, sharded cluster). Selecting a server requires an accurate view of the topology, so the extension regularly monitors the servers to which it is connected.

In most other drivers, server discovery and monitoring is handled by a background thread; however, the PHP driver is single-threaded and must therefore perform monitoring between operations initiated by the application.

Consider the following example application:

* When constructing a Client, the library creates a MongoDB\Driver\Manager
* object from the extension. In turn, the extension will either create a
* libmongoc client object (and persist it according to the constructor
* parameters) or re-use a previously persisted client.
* Assuming a new libmongoc client was created, the host name(s) in the
* connection string must be resolved via DNS. Likewise, if the connection
* string includes a mongodb+srv scheme, SRV/TXT records must be resolved.
* Following DNS resolution, the driver should then have a list of one or
* more hosts to which it can connect. This is referred to as the seed list.
* If a previously persisted client was re-used, no DNS resolution is needed
* and there will likely already be connections and topology state associated
* with the client.
* Drivers perform no further IO when constructing a client, so control is
* returned the the PHP script.
$client = new MongoDB\Client('mongodb://');
* The library creates a MongoDB\Database object from the Client. This does
* not entail any IO, as the Database and Collection objects only associate
* a database or namespace with a Client object, respectively.
$database = $client->test;
* The library creates an internal object for this operation and must select
* a server to use for executing that operation.
* If this is the first operation on the underlying libmongoc client, it must
* first discover the topology. It does so by establishing connections to any
* host(s) in the seed list (this may entail TLS and OCSP verification) and
* issuing "hello" commands.
* In the case of a replica set, connecting to a single host in the seed list
* should allow the driver to discover all other members in the replica set.
* In the case of a sharded cluster, the driver will start with an initial
* seed list of mongos hosts and, if SRV polling is utilized, may discover
* additional mongos hosts over time.
* If the topology was already initialized (i.e. this is not the first
* operation on the client), the driver may still need to perform monitoring
* (i.e. "hello" commands) and refresh its view of the topology. This process
* may entail adding or removing hosts from the topology.
* Once the topology has been discovered and any necessary monitoring has
* been performed, the driver may select a server according to the rules
* outlined in the server selection specification (e.g. applying a read
* preference, filtering hosts by latency).
$database->command(['ping' => 1]);

Although the application consists of only a few lines of PHP, there is actually quite a lot going on behind the scenes! Interested readers can find this process discussed in greater detail in the following documents:

  • Single-threaded Mode in the libmongoc documentation

  • Server Discovery and Monitoring specification

  • Server Selection specification

There are several connection string options relevant to server selection and monitoring.

connectTimeoutMS specifies the limit for both establishing a connection to a server and the socket timeout for server monitoring (hello commands). This defaults to 10 seconds for single-threaded drivers such as PHP.

When a server times out during monitoring, it will not be re-checked until at least five seconds (cooldownMS) have elapsed. This timeout is intended to avoid having single-threaded drivers block for connectTimeoutMS on each subsequent scan after an error.

Applications can consider setting this option to slightly more than the greatest latency among servers in the cluster. For example, if the greatest ping time between the PHP application server and a database server is 200ms, it may be reasonable to specify a timeout of one second. This would allow ample time for establishing a connection and monitoring an accessible server, while also significantly reducing the time to detect an inaccessible server.

heartbeatFrequencyMS determines how often monitoring should occur. This defaults to 60 seconds for single-threaded drivers and can be set as low as 500ms.

serverSelectionTimeoutMS determines the maximum amount of time to spend in the server selection loop. This defaults to 30 seconds, but applications will typically fail sooner if serverSelectionTryOnce is true and a smaller connectTimeoutMS value is in effect.

The original default was established at a time when replica set elections took much longer to complete. Applications can consider setting this option to slightly more than the expected completion time for an election. For example, Replica Set Elections states that elections will not typically exceed 12 seconds, so a 15-second timeout may be reasonable. Applications connecting to a sharded cluster may consider a smaller value still, since mongos insulates the driver from elections.

That said, serverSelectionTimeoutMS should generally not be set to a value smaller than connectTimeoutMS.

serverSelectionTryOnce determines whether the driver should give up after the first failed server selection attempt or continue waiting until serverSelectionTimeoutMS is reached. PHP defaults to true, which allows the driver to "fail fast" when a server cannot be selected (e.g. no primary during a failover).

The default behavior is generally desirable for a high-traffic web applications, as it means the worker process will not be blocked in a server selection loop and can instead return an error response and immediately go on to serve another request. Additionally, other driver features such as retryable reads and writes can still enable applications to avoid transient errors such as a failover.

That said, applications that prioritize resiliency over response time (and worker pool utilization) may want to specify false for serverSelectionTryOnce.

socketCheckIntervalMS determines how often a socket should be checked (using a ping command) if it has not been used recently. This defaults to 5 seconds and is intentionally lower than heartbeatFrequencyMS to better allow single-threaded drivers to recover dropped connections.

socketTimeoutMS determines the maximum amount of time to spend reading or writing to a socket. Since server monitoring uses connectTimeoutMS for its socket timeouts, socketTimeoutMS only applies to operations executed by the application.

socketTimeoutMS defaults to 5 minutes; however, it's likely that a PHP web request would be terminated sooner due to max_execution_time, which defaults to 30 seconds for web SAPIs. In a CLI environment, where max_execution_time is unlimited by default, it is more likely that socketTimeoutMS could be reached.


socketTimeoutMS is not directly related to server selection and monitoring; however, it is frequently associated with the other options and therefore bears mentioning.

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