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Reconfigure a Replica Set with Unavailable Members

To reconfigure a replica set when a minority of members are unavailable, use the rs.reconfig() operation on the current primary, following the example in the Replica Set Reconfiguration Procedure.

This document provides the following options for re-configuring a replica set when a majority of members are not accessible:

You may need to use one of these procedures, for example, in a geographically distributed replica set, where no local group of members can reach a majority. See Elections and Network Partitions for more information on this situation.

Reconfigure by Forcing the Reconfiguration

Changed in version 2.0.

This procedure lets you recover while a majority of replica set members are down or unreachable. You connect to any surviving member and use the force option to the rs.reconfig() method.

The force option forces a new configuration onto the. Use this procedure only to recover from catastrophic interruptions. Do not use force every time you reconfigure. Also, do not use the force option in any automatic scripts and do not use force when there is still a primary.

To force reconfiguration:

  1. Back up a surviving member.

  2. Connect to a surviving member and save the current configuration. Consider the following example commands for saving the configuration:

    cfg = rs.conf()
  3. On the same member, remove the down and unreachable members of the replica set from the members array by setting the array equal to the surviving members alone. Consider the following example, which uses the cfg variable created in the previous step:

    cfg.members = [cfg.members[0] , cfg.members[4] , cfg.members[7]]
  4. On the same member, reconfigure the set by using the rs.reconfig() command with the force option set to true:

    rs.reconfig(cfg, {force : true})

    This operation forces the secondary to use the new configuration. The configuration is then propagated to all the surviving members listed in the members array. The replica set then elects a new primary.


    When you use force : true, the version number in the replica set configuration increases significantly, by tens or hundreds of thousands. This is normal and designed to prevent set version collisions if you accidentally force re-configurations on both sides of a network partition and then the network partitioning ends.

  5. If the failure or partition was only temporary, shut down or decommission the removed members as soon as possible.

Reconfigure by Replacing the Replica Set

Use the following procedure only for versions of MongoDB prior to version 2.0. If you’re running MongoDB 2.0 or later, use the above procedure, Reconfigure by Forcing the Reconfiguration.

These procedures are for situations where a majority of the replica set members are down or unreachable. If a majority is running, then skip these procedures and instead use the rs.reconfig() command according to the examples in Example Reconfiguration Operations.

If you run a pre-2.0 version and a majority of your replica set is down, you have the two options described here. Both involve replacing the replica set.

Reconfigure by Turning Off Replication

This option replaces the replica set with a standalone server.

  1. Stop the surviving mongod instances. To ensure a clean shutdown, use an existing control script or an invocation that resembles the following:

    mongod --dbpath /data/db/ --shutdown

    Set --dbpath to the data directory of your mongod instance.

  2. Create a backup of the data directory (i.e. dbpath) of the surviving members of the set.


    If you have a backup of the database you may instead remove this data.

  3. Restart one of the mongod instances without the --replSet parameter.

    The data is now accessible and provided by a single server that is not a replica set member. Clients can use this server for both reads and writes.

When possible, re-deploy a replica set to provide redundancy and to protect your deployment from operational interruption.

Reconfigure by “Breaking the Mirror”

This option selects a surviving replica set member to be the new primary and to “seed” a new replica set. In the following procedure, the new primary is MongoDB copies the data from to all the other members.

  1. Stop the surviving mongod instances. To ensure a clean shutdown, use an existing control script or an invocation that resembles the following:

    mongod --dbpath /data/db/ --shutdown

    Set --dbpath to the data directory of your mongod instance.

  2. Move the data directories (i.e. dbpath) for all the members except, so that all the members except have empty data directories. For example:

    mv /data/db /data/db-old
  3. Move the data files for local database (i.e. local.*) so that has no local database. For example

    mkdir /data/local-old
    mv /data/db/local* /data/local-old/
  4. Start each member of the replica set normally.

  5. Connect to in a mongo shell and run rs.initiate() to initiate the replica set.

  6. Add the other set members using rs.add(). For example, to add a member running on at port 27017, issue the following command:


    MongoDB performs an initial sync on the added members by copying all data from to the added members.