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Operational Restrictions in Sharded Clusters

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  • Sharding Operational Restrictions
  • Sharding Existing Collection Data Size

$where does not permit references to the db object from the $where function. This is uncommon in un-sharded collections.

The geoSearch command is not supported in sharded environments.

In MongoDB 5.0 and earlier, you cannot specify sharded collections in the from parameter of $lookup stages.

To use updateOne() and deleteOne() operations for a sharded collection that specify the multi: false or justOne option:

  • If you only target one shard, you can use a partial shard key in the query specification or,

  • You can provide the shard key or the _id field in the query specification.

To use findOneAndUpdate() with a sharded collection, your query filter must include an equality condition on the shard key to compare the key and value in either of these formats:

{ key: value }
{ key: { $eq: value } }

MongoDB does not support unique indexes across shards, except when the unique index contains the full shard key as a prefix of the index. In these situations MongoDB will enforce uniqueness across the full key, not a single field.



Unique Constraints on Arbitrary Fields for an alternate approach.

An existing collection can only be sharded if its size does not exceed specific limits. These limits can be estimated based on the average size of all shard key values, and the configured chunk size.


These limits only apply for the initial sharding operation. Sharded collections can grow to any size after successfully enabling sharding.

MongoDB distributes documents in the collection so that each chunk is half full at creation. Use the following formulas to calculate the theoretical maximum collection size.

maxSplits = 16777216 (bytes) / <average size of shard key values in bytes>
maxCollectionSize (MB) = maxSplits * (chunkSize / 2)


The maximum BSON document size is 16MB or 16777216 bytes.

All conversions should use base-2 scale, e.g. 1024 kilobytes = 1 megabyte.

If maxCollectionSize is less than or nearly equal to the target collection, increase the chunk size to ensure successful initial sharding. If there is doubt as to whether the result of the calculation is too 'close' to the target collection size, it is likely better to increase the chunk size.

After successful initial sharding, you can reduce the chunk size as needed. If you later reduce the chunk size, it may take time for all chunks to split to the new size. See Modify Chunk Size in a Sharded Cluster for instructions on modifying chunk size.

This table illustrates the approximate maximum collection sizes using the formulas described above:

Average Size of Shard Key Values
512 bytes
256 bytes
128 bytes
64 bytes
Maximum Number of Splits
Max Collection Size (64 MB Chunk Size)
1 TB
2 TB
4 TB
8 TB
Max Collection Size (128 MB Chunk Size)
2 TB
4 TB
8 TB
16 TB
Max Collection Size (256 MB Chunk Size)
4 TB
8 TB
16 TB
32 TB


Sharding Reference


Troubleshoot Sharded Clusters