Best Practices for Amazon DocumentDB - Amazon DocumentDB
Services or capabilities described in Amazon Web Services documentation might vary by Region. To see the differences applicable to the China Regions, see Getting Started with Amazon Web Services in China (PDF).

Best Practices for Amazon DocumentDB

Learn best practices for working with Amazon DocumentDB (with MongoDB compatibility). This section is continually updated as new best practices are identified.

Basic Operational Guidelines

The following are basic operational guidelines that everyone should follow when working with Amazon DocumentDB. The Amazon DocumentDB Service Level Agreement requires that you follow these guidelines.

  • Deploy a cluster consisting of two or more Amazon DocumentDB instances in two Amazon Availability Zones. For production workloads, we recommend deploying a cluster consisting of three or more Amazon DocumentDB instances in three Availability Zones.

  • Use the service within the stated service limits. For more information, see Amazon DocumentDB Quotas and Limits.

  • Monitor your memory, CPU, connections, and storage usage. To help you maintain system performance and availability, set up Amazon CloudWatch to notify you when usage patterns change or when you approach the capacity of your deployment.

  • Scale up your instances when you are approaching capacity limits. Your instances should be provisioned with enough compute resources (i.e., RAM, CPU) to accommodate unforeseen increases in demand from your applications.

  • Set your backup retention period to align with your recovery point objective.

  • Test failover for your cluster to understand how long the process takes for your use case. For more information, see Amazon DocumentDB Failover.

  • Connect to your Amazon DocumentDB cluster with the cluster endpoint (see Amazon DocumentDB Endpoints) and in replica set mode (see Connecting to Amazon DocumentDB as a Replica Set) to minimize the impact of a failover on your application.

  • Choose a driver read preference setting that maximizes read scaling while meeting your application's read consistency requirements. The secondaryPreferred read preference enables replica reads and frees up the primary instance to do more work. For more information, see Read Preference Options.

  • Design your application to be resilient in the event of network and database errors. Use your driver's error mechanism to distinguish between transient errors and persistent errors. Retry transient errors using an exponential backoff mechanism when appropriate. Ensure that your application considers data consistency when implementing retry logic.

  • Enable cluster deletion protection for all production clusters, or any cluster that has valuable data. Before deleting an Amazon DocumentDB cluster, take a final snapshot. If you are deploying resources with Amazon CloudFormation, enable termination protection. For more information, see Termination Protection and Deletion Protection.

  • When creating an Amazon DocumentDB cluster, the --engine-version is an optional parameter that defaults to the latest major engine version. The current major engine version is 4.0.0. When new major engine versions are released, the default engine version for --engine-version will be updated to reflect the lasted major engine version. As a result, for production workloads, and especially those that are dependent on scripting, automation, or Amazon CloudFormation templates, we recommend that you explicitly specify the --engine-version to the intended major version.

Instance Sizing

One of the most critical aspects of choosing an instance size in Amazon DocumentDB is the amount of RAM for your cache. Amazon DocumentDB reserves one-third of the RAM for its own services, meaning that only two-thirds of the instance RAM is available for the cache. Thus, it is an Amazon DocumentDB best practice to choose an instance type with enough RAM to fit your working set (i.e., data and indexes) in memory. Having properly sized instances will help optimize for overall performance and potentially minimize I/O cost. You can use the third party Amazon DocumentDB sizing calculator to estimate the instance size for a particular workload.

To determine whether your application's working set fits in memory, monitor the BufferCacheHitRatio using Amazon CloudWatch for each instance in a cluster that is under load.

The BufferCacheHitRatio CloudWatch metric measures the percentage of data and indexes served from an instance’s memory cache (versus the storage volume). Generally speaking, the value of BufferCacheHitRatio should be as high as possible, as reading data from working set memory is faster and more cost-effective than reading from the storage volume. While it is desirable to keep BufferCacheHitRatio as close to 100% as possible, the best achievable value will depend on your application’s access patterns and performance requirements. To maintain the highest possible BufferCacheHitRatio, it is recommended that the instances in your cluster are provisioned with enough RAM to be able to fit your indexes and working data set in memory.

If your indexes do not fit into memory, you will see a lower BufferCacheHitRatio. Continually reading from disk incurs additional I/O costs and is not as performant as reading from memory. If your BufferCacheHitRatio ratio is lower than expected, scale up the instance size for your cluster to provide more RAM to fit working set data in memory. If scaling up the instance class results in a dramatic increase in BufferCacheHitRatio, then your application's working set did not fit in memory. Continue to scale up until BufferCacheHitRatio no longer increases dramatically after a scaling operation. For information about monitoring an instance's metrics, see Amazon DocumentDB Metrics.

Depending on your workload and latency requirements, it may be acceptable for your application to have higher BufferCacheHitRatio values during steady state usage, but have the BufferCacheHitRatio dip periodically as analytic queries that need to scan an entire collection are run on an instance. These periodic dips in BufferCacheHitRatio may manifest as higher latency for subsequent queries that need to repopulate the working set data from the storage volume back into the buffer cache. We recommend that you test your workloads in a pre-production environment with a representative production workload first in order to understand the performance characteristics and BufferCacheHitRatio before deploying the workload to production.

The BufferCacheHitRatio is an instance-specific metric, so different instances within the same cluster may have different BufferCacheHitRatio values depending on how reads are distributed among the primary and replica instances. If your operational workload cannot handle periodic increases in latency from repopulating the working set cache after running analytic queries, you should try to isolate the regular workload’s buffer cache from that of the analytic queries. You can achieve complete BufferCacheHitRatio isolation by directing operational queries to the primary instance and analytic queries only to the replica instances. You can also achieve partial isolation by directing analytic queries to a specific replica instance with the understanding that some percentage of regular queries will also run on that replica and could potentially be affected.

Appropriate BufferCacheHitRatio values depend on your use case and application requirements. There is no one best or minimum value for this metric; only you can decide if the tradeoff from a temporarily lower BufferCacheHitRatio is acceptable from a cost and performance perspective.

Working with Indexes

Building Indexes

When importing data into Amazon DocumentDB, you should create your indexes before importing large datasets. You can use the Amazon DocumentDB Index Tool to extract indexes from a running MongoDB instance or mongodump directory, and create those indexes in an Amazon DocumentDB cluster. For more guidance on migrations, see Migrating to Amazon DocumentDB.

Index Selectivity

We recommend that you limit the creation of indexes to fields where the number of duplicate values is less than 1% of the total number of documents in the collection. As an example, if your collection contains 100,000 documents, only create indexes on fields where the same value occurs 1000 times or fewer.

Choosing an index with a high number of unique values (i.e., a high cardinality) ensures that filter operations return a small number of documents, thereby yielding good performance during index scans. An example of a high-cardinality index is a unique index, which guarantees that equality predicates return at most a single document. Examples of low-cardinality include an index over a Boolean field and an index over day of the week. Due to their poor performance, low cardinality indexes are unlikely to be chosen by the database’s query optimizer. At the same time, low cardinality indexes continue to consume resources such as disk space and I/Os. As a rule of thumb, you should target indexes on fields where the typical value frequency is 1% of the total collection size or less.

Additionally, it is recommended to only create indexes on fields that are commonly utilized as a filter and regularly look for unused indexes. For more information, see How do I identify unused indexes?.

Impact of Indexes on Writing Data

While indexes can improve query performance by avoiding the need to scan every document in a collection, this improvement comes with a tradeoff. For each index on a collection, every time a document is inserted, updated, or deleted, the database must update the collection and write the fields to each of the indexes for the collection. For example, if a collection has nine indexes, the database must perform ten writes before acknowledging the operation to the client. Thus, each additional index incurs additional write latency, I/O's, and increase in the overall utilized storage.

Cluster instances need to be appropriately sized to keep all working set memory. This avoids the need to continuously read index pages from the storage volume, which negatively impacts performance and generates higher I/O costs. For more information, see Instance Sizing.

For best performance, minimize the number of indexes in your collections, adding only those indexes necessary to improve performance for common queries. While workloads vary, a good guideline is to keep the number of indexes per collection to five or fewer.

Identifying Missing Indexes

Identifying missing indexes is a best practice that we recommend performing on a regular basis. For more information, please see How do I identify missing indexes?.

Identifying Unused Indexes

Identifying and removing unused indexes is a best practice that we recommend performing on a regular basis. For more information, please see How do I identify unused indexes?.

Security Best Practices

For security best practices, you must use Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) accounts to control access to Amazon DocumentDB API operations, especially operations that create, modify, or delete Amazon DocumentDB resources. Such resources include clusters, security groups, and parameter groups. You must also use IAM to control actions that perform common administrative actions such as backing up restoring clusters. When creating IAM roles, employ the principle of least privilege.

  • Enforce least privilege with role-based access control.

  • Assign an individual IAM account to each person who manages Amazon DocumentDB resources. Do not use the Amazon Web Services account root user to manage Amazon DocumentDB resources. Create an IAM user for everyone, including yourself.

  • Grant each IAM user the minimum set of permissions that are required to perform their duties.

  • Use IAM groups to effectively manage permissions for multiple users. For more information about IAM, see the IAM User Guide. For information about IAM best practices, see IAM Best Practices.

  • Regularly rotate your IAM credentials.

  • Configure Amazon Secrets Manager to automatically rotate the secrets for Amazon DocumentDB. For more information, see Rotating Your Amazon Secrets Manager Secrets and Rotating Secrets for Amazon DocumentDB in the Amazon Secrets Manager User Guide.

  • Grant each Amazon DocumentDB user the minimum set of permissions that are required to perform their duties. For more information, see Database Access Using Role-Based Access Control.

  • Use Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt your data in transit and Amazon KMS to encrypt your data at rest.

Cost Optimization

The following best practices can help you manage and minimize your costs when using Amazon DocumentDB. For pricing information, see Amazon DocumentDB (with MongoDB compatibility) pricing and Amazon DocumentDB (with MongoDB compatibility) FAQs.

  • Create billing alerts at thresholds of 50 percent and 75 percent of your expected bill for the month. For more information about creating billing alerts, see Creating a Billing Alarm.

  • Amazon DocumentDB's architecture separates storage and compute, so even a single-instance cluster is highly durable. The cluster storage volume replicates data six ways across three Availability Zones, providing extremely high durability regardless of the number of instances in the cluster. A typical production cluster has three or more instances to provide high availability. However, you can optimize costs by using a single instance development cluster when high availability is not required.

  • For development and test scenarios, stop a cluster when it is no longer needed and start the cluster when development resumes. For more information, see Stopping and Starting an Amazon DocumentDB Cluster.

  • Both TTL and change streams incur I/O's when data is written, read, and deleted. If you have enabled these features but are not utilizing them in your application, disabling the features can help reduce costs.

Using Metrics to Identify Performance Issues

To identify performance issues caused by insufficient resources and other common bottlenecks, you can monitor the metrics available for your Amazon DocumentDB cluster.

Viewing Performance Metrics

Monitor performance metrics on a regular basis to see the average, maximum, and minimum values for a variety of time ranges. This helps you identify when performance is degraded. You can also set Amazon CloudWatch alarms for particular metric thresholds so that you are alerted if they are reached.

To troubleshoot performance issues, it’s important to understand the baseline performance of the system. After you set up a new cluster and get it running with a typical workload, capture the average, maximum, and minimum values of all the performance metrics at different intervals (for example, 1 hour, 24 hours, 1 week, 2 weeks). This gives you an idea of what is normal. It helps to get comparisons for both peak and off-peak hours of operation. You can then use this information to identify when performance is dropping below standard levels.

You can view performance metrics using the Amazon Web Services Management Console or Amazon CLI. For more information, see the following:

Setting a CloudWatch Alarm

To set a CloudWatch alarm, see Using Amazon CloudWatch Alarms in the Amazon CloudWatch User Guide.

Evaluating Performance Metrics

An instance has several different categories of metrics. How you determine acceptable values depends on the metric.

  • CPU Utilization — The percentage of the computer processing capacity used.

  • Freeable Memory — How much RAM is available on the instance.

  • Swap Usage — How much swap space is used by the instance, in megabytes.

Input/output operations
  • Read IOPS, Write IOPS — The average number of disk read or write operations per second.

  • Read Latency, Write Latency — The average time for a read or write operation in milliseconds.

  • Read Throughput, Write Throughput — The average number of megabytes read from or written to disk per second.

  • Disk Queue Depth — The number of I/O operationsthat are waiting to be written to or read from disk.

Network traffic
  • Network Receive Throughput, Network Transmit Throughput — The rate of network traffic to and from the instance in megabytes per second.

Database connections
  • DB Connections — The number of client sessions that are connected to the instance.

Generally speaking, acceptable values for performance metrics depend on what your baseline looks like and what your application is doing. Investigate consistent or trending variances from your baseline.

The following are recommendations and advice about specific types of metrics:

  • High CPU consumption — High values for CPU consumption might be appropriate, provided that they are in keeping with your goals for your application (like throughput or concurrency) and are expected. If your CPU consumption is consistently over 80 percent, consider scaling up your instances.

  • High RAM consumption — If your FreeableMemory metric frequently dips below 10% of the total instance memory, consider scaling up your instances. For more information on what happens when your DocumentDB instance is experiencing high memory pressure, see Amazon DocumentDB Resource Governance.

  • Swap usage — This metric should remain at or near zero. If your swap usage is significant, consider scaling up your instances.

  • Network traffic — For network traffic, talk with your system administrator to understand what the expected throughput is for your domain network and internet connection. Investigate network traffic if throughput is consistently lower than expected.

  • Database connections — Consider constraining database connections if you see high numbers of user connections together with decreases in instance performance and response time. The best number of user connections for your instance varies based on your instance class and the complexity of the operations being performed. For issues with any performance metrics, one of the first things you can do to improve performance is tune the most used and most expensive queries to see if that lowers the pressure on system resources.

If your queries are tuned and an issue persists, consider upgrading your Amazon DocumentDB instance class to one with more of the resource (CPU, RAM, disk space, network bandwidth, I/O capacity) that is related to the issue you're experiencing.

Tuning Queries

One of the best ways to improve cluster performance is to tune your most commonly used and most resource-intensive queries to make them less expensive to run.

You can use the profiler (see Profiling Amazon DocumentDB Operations) to log the execution time and details of operations that were performed on your cluster. Profiler is useful for monitoring the slowest operations on your cluster to help you improve individual query performance and overall cluster performance.

You can also use the explain command to learn how to analyze a query plan for a particular query. Use this information to modify a query or underlying collection to improve your query performance (for example, adding an index).

TTL and Timeseries Workloads

Document deletion resulting from TTL index expiry is a best effort process. Documents are not guaranteed to be deleted within any specific period. Factors like instance size, instance resource utilization, document size, overall throughput, the number of indexes, and whether indexes and the working set fit in memory can all affect the timing of when expired documents are deleted by the TTL process.

When the TTL monitor deletes your documents, each deletion incurs I/O costs, which increases your bill. If throughput and TTL delete rates increase, you should expect a higher bill due to increased I/O usage. However, if you do not create a TTL index to delete documents, but instead segment documents into collections based on time and simply drop those collections when they are no longer needed, you will not incur any IO costs. This can be significantly more cost effective than using a TTL index.

For time-series workloads, you can consider creating rolling collections instead of a TTL index as rolling collections can be a more performant way to delete data and less I/O intensive. If you have large collections (especially collections over 1TB) or TTL deletion I/O costs are a concern, we recommend that you partition documents into collections based on time, and drop collections when the documents are no longer needed. You can create one collection per day or one per week, depending on your data ingest rate. While requirements will vary depending on your application, a good rule of thumb is to have more smaller collections rather than a few large collections. Dropping these collections does not incur I/O costs, and can be faster and more cost effective than using a TTL index.


As a best practice, we recommend that when migrating data to Amazon DocumentDB, you first create your indexes in Amazon DocumentDB before migrating the data. Creating the indexes first can reduce the overall time and increase the speed of the migration. To do this, you can use the Amazon DocumentDB Index Tool. For more information on migrations, see the Amazon DocumentDB migration guide.

We also recommend that before you migrate your production database, it is a best practice to fully test your application on Amazon DocumentDB, taking into consideration functionality, performance, operations, and cost.

Working with Cluster Parameter Groups

We recommend that you try out cluster parameter group changes on a test cluster before applying the changes to your production clusters. For information about backing up your cluster, see Backing Up and Restoring in Amazon DocumentDB.

Aggregation Pipeline Queries

When creating an aggregation pipeline query with multiple stages and evaluating only a subset of the data in the query, use the $match stage as the first stage or in the beginning of the pipeline. Using $match first will reduce the number of documents subsequent stages within the aggregation pipeline query will need to process, thus improving the performance of your query.

batchInsert and batchUpdate

When performing a high rate of concurrent batchInsert and/or batchUpdate operations, and the amount of FreeableMemory (CloudWatch Metric) goes to zero on your primary instance, you can either reduce the concurrency of the batch insert or update workload or, if concurrency of the workload cannot be reduced, increase the instance size to increase the amount of FreeableMemory.