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Hidden Replica Set Members

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  • Behavior
  • Further Reading

A hidden member maintains a copy of the primary's data set but is invisible to client applications. Hidden members are good for workloads with different usage patterns from the other members in the replica set. Hidden members must always be priority 0 members and so cannot become primary. The db.hello() method does not display hidden members. Hidden members, however, may vote in elections.

In the following five-member replica set, all four secondary members have copies of the primary's data set, but one of the secondary members is hidden.

Diagram of a 5 member replica set with a hidden priority 0 member.

Clients will not distribute reads with the appropriate read preference to hidden members. As a result, these members receive no traffic other than basic replication. Use hidden members for dedicated tasks such as reporting and backups.


If your replica set contains delayed members ensure that the delayed members are hidden and non-voting.

Hiding delayed replica set members prevents applications from seeing and querying delayed data without a direct connection to that member. Making delayed replica set members non-voting means they will not count towards acknowledging write operations with write concern "majority".

If you do not hide delayed members and one or more nodes become unavailable, the replica set has to wait for the delayed member and the commit point lags. A lagged commit point can lead to performance issues.

For example, consider a Primary-Secondary-Delayed replica set configuration where the delayed secondary is voting with a 10 minute delay.

With one non-delayed secondary unavailable, the degraded configuration of Primary-Delayed must wait at least 10 minutes to acknowledge a write operation with "majority".The majority commit point will take longer to advance, leading to cache pressure similar performance issues with a Primary with a Secondary and an Arbiter (PSA) replica set.

For more information on the majority commit point, see Causal Consistency and Read and Write Concerns. For additional details on resolving performance issues see the replica set maintenance tutorial.

In a sharded cluster, mongos do not interact with hidden members.

Hidden members may vote in replica set elections. If you stop a voting hidden member, ensure that the set has an active majority or the primary will step down.

For the purposes of backups,

  • db.fsyncLock() ensures that the data files are safe to copy using low-level backup utilities such as cp, scp, or tar. A mongod started using the copied files contains user-written data that is indistinguishable from the user-written data on the locked mongod.

    The data files of a locked mongod may change due to operations such as journaling syncs or WiredTiger snapshots. While this has no affect on the logical data (e.g. data accessed by clients), some backup utilities may detect these changes and emit warnings or fail with errors. For more information on MongoDB- recommended backup utilities and procedures, see MongoDB Backup Methods.

Hidden replica set members can acknowledge write operations issued with w: <number>. For write operations issued with w : "majority", however, hidden members must also be voting members (i.e. members[n].votes greater than 0) to acknowledge the "majority" write operation. Non-voting replica set members (i.e. members[n].votes is 0) cannot contribute to acknowledging write operations with majority write concern.

For more information about backing up MongoDB databases, see MongoDB Backup Methods. To configure a hidden member, see Configure a Hidden Replica Set Member.

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