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Migrate a Sharded Cluster to Different Hardware

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  • Disable the Balancer
  • Migrate Each Config Server Separately
  • Restart the mongos Instances
  • Migrate the Shards
  • Re-Enable the Balancer

The tutorial is specific to MongoDB 5.0. For earlier versions of MongoDB, refer to the corresponding version of the MongoDB Manual.

Config servers for sharded clusters are deployed as a replica set. The replica set config servers must run the WiredTiger storage engine.

This procedure moves the components of the sharded cluster to a new hardware system without downtime for reads and writes.


While the migration is in progress, do not attempt to change to the Sharded Cluster Metadata. Do not use any operation that modifies the cluster metadata in any way. For example, do not create or drop databases, create or drop collections, or use any sharding commands.

Disable the balancer to stop chunk migration and do not perform any metadata write operations until the process finishes. If a migration is in progress, the balancer will complete the in-progress migration before stopping.

To disable the balancer, connect to one of the cluster's mongos instances and issue the following method: [1]


To check the balancer state, issue the sh.getBalancerState() method.

For more information, see Disable the Balancer.

[1] Starting in MongoDB 4.2, sh.stopBalancer() also disables auto-splitting for the sharded cluster.

Config servers for sharded clusters can be deployed as a replica set (CSRS). Using a replica set for the config servers improves consistency across the config servers, since MongoDB can take advantage of the standard replica set read and write protocols for the config data. In addition, using a replica set for config servers allows a sharded cluster to have more than 3 config servers since a replica set can have up to 50 members. To deploy config servers as a replica set, the config servers must run the WiredTiger Storage Engine.

The following restrictions apply to a replica set configuration when used for config servers:

For each member of the config server replica set:


Replace the secondary members before replacing the primary.


Start a mongod instance, specifying the --configsvr, --replSet, --bind_ip options, and other options as appropriate to your deployment.


Before binding to a non-localhost (e.g. publicly accessible) IP address, ensure you have secured your cluster from unauthorized access. For a complete list of security recommendations, see Security Checklist. At minimum, consider enabling authentication and hardening network infrastructure.

mongod --configsvr --replSet <replicaSetName> --bind_ip localhost,<hostname(s)|ip address(es)>

Connect mongosh to the primary of the config server replica set and use rs.add() to add the new member.


Before MongoDB 5.0, a newly added secondary still counts as a voting member even though it can neither serve reads nor become primary until its data is consistent. If you are running a MongoDB version earlier than 5.0 and add a secondary with its votes and priority settings greater than zero, this can lead to a case where a majority of the voting members are online but no primary can be elected. To avoid such situations, consider adding the new secondary initially with priority :0 and votes :0. Then, run rs.status() to ensure the member has transitioned into SECONDARY state. Finally, use rs.reconfig() to update its priority and votes.

rs.add( { host: "<hostnameNew>:<portNew>", priority: 0, votes: 0 } )

The initial sync process copies all the data from one member of the config server replica set to the new member without restarting.

mongos instances automatically recognize the change in the config server replica set members without restarting.

  1. Ensure that the new member has reached SECONDARY state. To check the state of the replica set members, run rs.status():

  2. Reconfigure the replica set to update the votes and priority of the new member:

    var cfg = rs.conf();
    cfg.members[n].priority = 1; // Substitute the correct array index for the new member
    cfg.members[n].votes = 1; // Substitute the correct array index for the new member

    where n is the array index of the new member in the members array.


  • The rs.reconfig() shell method can force the current primary to step down, which causes an election. When the primary steps down, the mongod closes all client connections. While this typically takes 10-20 seconds, try to make these changes during scheduled maintenance periods.

  • Avoid reconfiguring replica sets that contain members of different MongoDB versions as validation rules may differ across MongoDB versions.


If replacing the primary member, step down the primary first before shutting down.


Upon completion of initial sync of the replacement config server, from a mongosh session that is connected to the primary, use rs.remove() to remove the old member.


mongos instances automatically recognize the change in the config server replica set members without restarting.

With replica set config servers, the mongos instances specify in the --configdb or sharding.configDB setting the config server replica set name and at least one of the replica set members. The mongos instances for the sharded cluster must specify the same config server replica set name but can specify different members of the replica set.

If a mongos instance specifies a migrated replica set member in the --configdb or sharding.configDB setting, update the config server setting for the next time you restart the mongos instance.

For more information, see Start a mongos for the Sharded Cluster.

Migrate the shards one at a time. For each shard, follow the appropriate procedure in this section.

To migrate a sharded cluster, migrate each member separately. First migrate the non-primary members, and then migrate the primary last.

If the replica set has two voting members, add an arbiter to the replica set to ensure the set keeps a majority of its votes available during the migration. You can remove the arbiter after completing the migration.

  1. Shut down the mongod process. To ensure a clean shutdown, use the shutdown command.

  2. Move the data directory (i.e., the dbPath) to the new machine.

  3. Restart the mongod process at the new location.

  4. Connect to the replica set's current primary.

  5. If the hostname of the member has changed, use rs.reconfig() to update the replica set configuration document with the new hostname.

    For example, the following sequence of commands updates the hostname for the instance at position 2 in the members array:

    cfg = rs.conf()
    cfg.members[2].host = ""

    For more information on updating the configuration document, see Examples.

  6. To confirm the new configuration, issue rs.conf().

  7. Wait for the member to recover. To check the member's state, issue rs.status().

While migrating the replica set's primary, the set must elect a new primary. This failover process which renders the replica set unavailable to perform reads or accept writes for the duration of the election, which typically completes quickly. If possible, plan the migration during a maintenance window.

  1. Step down the primary to allow the normal failover process. To step down the primary, connect to the primary and issue the either the replSetStepDown command or the rs.stepDown() method. The following example shows the rs.stepDown() method:

  2. Once the primary has stepped down and another member has become PRIMARY state. To migrate the stepped-down primary, follow the Migrate a Member of a Replica Set Shard procedure

    You can check the output of rs.status() to confirm the change in status.

To complete the migration, re-enable the balancer to resume chunk migrations.

Connect to one of the cluster's mongos instances and pass true to the sh.startBalancer() method: [2]


To check the balancer state, issue the sh.getBalancerState() method.

For more information, see Enable the Balancer.

[2] Starting in MongoDB 4.2, sh.startBalancer() also enables auto-splitting for the sharded cluster.
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