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Production Considerations (Sharded Clusters)

On this page

  • Sharded Transactions and MongoDB Drivers
  • Performance
  • Read Concerns
  • Write Concerns
  • Arbiters
  • Three Member Primary-Secondary-Arbiter Shards
  • Backups and Restores
  • Chunk Migrations
  • Outside Reads During Commit
  • Additional Information

Starting in version 4.2, MongoDB provides the ability to perform multi-document transactions for sharded clusters.

The following page lists concerns specific to running transactions on a sharded cluster. These concerns are in addition to those listed in Production Considerations.

For transactions on MongoDB 4.2 deployments (replica sets and sharded clusters), clients must use MongoDB drivers updated for MongoDB 4.2.

On sharded clusters with multiple mongos instances, performing transactions with drivers updated for MongoDB 4.0 (instead of MongoDB 4.2) will fail and can result in errors, including:


Your driver may return a different error. Refer to your driver's documentation for details.

Error Code
Error Message
cannot continue txnId -1 for session ... with txnId 1
cannot commit with no participants

Transactions that target a single shard should have the same performance as replica-set transactions.

Transactions that affect multiple shards incur a greater performance cost.


On a sharded cluster, transactions that span multiple shards will error and abort if any involved shard contains an arbiter.

To specify a time limit, specify a maxTimeMS limit on commitTransaction.

If maxTimeMS is unspecified, MongoDB will use the transactionLifetimeLimitSeconds.

If maxTimeMS is specified but would result in transaction that exceeds transactionLifetimeLimitSeconds, MongoDB will use the transactionLifetimeLimitSeconds.

To modify transactionLifetimeLimitSeconds for a sharded cluster, the parameter must be modified for all shard replica set members.

Multi-document transactions support "local", "majority", and "snapshot" read concern levels.

For transactions on a sharded cluster, only the "snapshot" read concern provides a consistent snapshot across multiple shards.

For more information on read concern and transactions, see Transactions and Read Concern.

You cannot run transactions on a sharded cluster that has a shard with writeConcernMajorityJournalDefault set to false (such as a shard with a voting member that uses the in-memory storage engine).


Regardless of the write concern specified for the transaction, the commit operation for a sharded cluster transaction includes some parts that use {w: "majority", j: true} write concern.

Transactions whose write operations span multiple shards will error and abort if any transaction operation reads from or writes to a shard that contains an arbiter.

See also Three Member Primary-Secondary-Arbiter Shards for transaction restrictions on shards that have disabled read concern majority.

For a sharded cluster with three-member PSA shards, you may have disabled read concern "majority" (i.e. --enableMajorityReadConcern false or replication.enableMajorityReadConcern: false) to avoid cache pressure.

On sharded clusters,
  • If a transaction involves a shard that has disabled read concern "majority", you cannot use read concern "snapshot" for the transaction. You can only use read concern "local" or "majority" for the transaction. If you use read concern "snapshot", the transaction errors and aborts.

    readConcern level 'snapshot' is not supported in sharded clusters when enableMajorityReadConcern=false.
  • Transactions whose write operations span multiple shards will error and abort if any of the transaction's read or write operations involves a shard that has disabled read concern "majority".

To check if read concern "majority" is disabled,
You can run db.serverStatus() and check the storageEngine.supportsCommittedReads field. If false, read concern "majority" is disabled.


To use mongodump and mongorestore as a backup strategy for sharded clusters, you must stop the sharded cluster balancer and use the fsync command or the db.fsyncLock() method on mongos to block writes on the cluster during backups.

Sharded clusters can also use one of the following coordinated backup and restore processes, which maintain the atomicity guarantees of transactions across shards:

Chunk migration acquires exclusive collection locks during certain stages.

If an ongoing transaction has a lock on a collection and a chunk migration that involves that collection starts, these migration stages must wait for the transaction to release the locks on the collection, thereby impacting the performance of chunk migrations.

If a chunk migration interleaves with a transaction (for instance, if a transaction starts while a chunk migration is already in progress and the migration completes before the transaction takes a lock on the collection), the transaction errors during the commit and aborts.

Depending on how the two operations interleave, some sample errors include (the error messages have been abbreviated):

  • an error from cluster data placement change ... migration commit in progress for <namespace>

  • Cannot find shardId the chunk belonged to at cluster time ...


See also:

During the commit for a transaction, outside read operations may try to read the same documents that will be modified by the transaction. If the transaction writes to multiple shards, then during the commit attempt across the shards:

  • Outside reads that use read concern "snapshot" or "linearizable" wait until all writes of a transaction are visible.

  • Outside reads that are part of causally consistent sessions (those that include afterClusterTime) wait until all writes of a transaction are visible.

  • Outside reads using other read concerns do not wait until all writes of a transaction are visible, but instead read the before-transaction version of the documents.

See also Production Considerations.

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