I recently had to assign more diskspace to my MongoDB 2.4.8 instance. This instance continually receives transactions, makes some updates and then deletes them after 3 months. I would therefore expect that the disk usage was relatively constant. The documents have a relatively uniform size of 5KB.

"db" : "mydb",
"collections" : 16,
"objects" : 4.71578e+006,
"avgObjSize" : 5368.2594088278856000,
"dataSize" : 25315551828.0000000000000000,
"storageSize" : 111230508336.0000000000000000,
"numExtents" : 128,
"indexes" : 41,
"indexSize" : 1398799136.0000000000000000,
"fileSize" : 122280738816.0000000000000000,
"nsSizeMB" : 16,
"dataFileVersion" : {
    "major" : 4,
    "minor" : 5
"ok" : 1.0000000000000000

I understand that disk usage will be larger than data size due to preallocation and fragmentation, but I cannot see any reasonble explanation for a 5 to 1 ratio other than a large historical delete or a bug.

Is MongoDB unable to reuse space properly so that we must schedule manual repair-jobs on otherwise completely stable systems, or do I have another problem somewhere?

  • 1
    Maybe the following article can help you further : stackoverflow.com/questions/13390160/… . – aldwinaldwin Jul 13 '15 at 9:15
  • Most probably, indeed the deleted space that isn't reused. Maybe advised is, while you need to do a maintenance anyway to recover the space, upgrade to v3.0 in the meantime. There seem so be a lot of improvements between 2.4 and 3.0. Also, instead of deleting/removing everything older than 3 months, have a look at the TTL-index. – aldwinaldwin Jul 13 '15 at 9:21
  • Thanks. The article you refer to does address the common issue of reclaiming space. I am however not concerned about reclamation, but that the database file size never seems to stabilize even with a constant amount of data. I would expect that at some point in time there should be 100% reuse of provisioned space. – Karl Ivar Dahl Jul 13 '15 at 10:07
  • 1
    It seems that 2.4 uses the 'exact fit allocation', what means that when there is free space, a document with the exact fit 'might' be used to fill it in, but unlikely. The power of 2 sizes allocation strategy can efficiently reuse freed records to reduce fragmentation. Quantizing record allocation sizes into a fixed set of sizes increases the probability that an insert will fit into the free space created by an earlier document deletion or relocation. docs.mongodb.org/manual/core/storage/#power-of-2-allocation 100% without any maintenance is not possible except for capped collections – aldwinaldwin Jul 13 '15 at 10:21
  • 1
    You are basically seeing poor re-use (I wrote the SO answer linked above). There are several reasons why it can happen - the free list can become poisoned (rare), or new data doesn't fit in the free space, or you may be hitting the timeout on the free list search which defaults to allocate new space rather than slow things down. You should look at the power of 2 sizes option as mentioned, you can schedule repairs/resyncs every few weeks to reclaim space, or you can look at the newer versions and storage engines for better disk space utilisation in general – Adam C Jul 13 '15 at 11:31

Based on the comments I have received the following actions seem to address my concerns:

  • Migrate existing collections to power of 2 sizes.
  • Run repair or compress periodically to optimize the free list search so that default allocation of new disk space on timeout is avoided.
  • Only capped collections should be considered "100% maintenance-free".

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