I'm running mongo 3.4.7 (WiredTiger) replica set with two secondaries.

According to the docs, when journaling is enabled and write concern is {w: "majority", j: 0}, the ack is sent after the data is written to "In memory".

However the docs don't specify what happens when journaling is off on the server (--nojournal). What happens in that case? What is the write concern waiting for?

2 Answers 2


Since you're using MongoDB 3.4.7 with WiredTiger, there are certain defaults in place if you run MongoDB with the default values (journal is enabled):

If you run MongoDB without journaling, using {w:'majority', j:true} will result in an error (see the Note section on j option):

[PRIMARY:replset] test> db.test.insert({a:1},{writeConcern:{w:'majority', j:true}})
  "writeError": {
    "code": 2,
    "errmsg": "cannot use 'j' option when a host does not have journaling enabled"

Please note that counter-intuitively, running WiredTiger with the --nojournal option may make it slower. This is because WiredTiger performs a checkpoint every 60 seconds or 2 GB of data in MongoDB 3.4, and writes to the journal between checkpoints.

Disabling journaling will force any journal flushes to become a checkpoint instead. Since a journal sync is relatively lightweight compared to a full checkpoint, the forced checkpoints will slow down WiredTiger.

  • Thanks! Why does turning journaling off makes checkpoints more frequent? Is that documented anywhere?
    – Tzach
    Sep 13, 2017 at 8:01
  • @Tzach I edited my answer to be more precise regarding this fact. It's currently not documented anywhere, but this behaviour in MongoDB 3.4.9 was defined in github.com/mongodb/mongo/blob/r3.4.9/src/mongo/db/storage/…
    – kevinadi
    Sep 18, 2017 at 2:31

The answer to your question: Writing data change to disk.

When journaling is on, the first change is written to the journal, then it is written to data blocks.

  • Thanks! So when journaling is on, is the ack sent before or after the change is actually written to the disk?
    – Tzach
    Sep 12, 2017 at 19:05
  • Here is an image: bit.ly/2wZ6VkL at the situation where you have w:1, j:true, without journaling, of course, we have only written to the disk possibility. But, remember, even write is done to data blocks, actual write (flush) to physical disk happens later.
    – JJussi
    Sep 12, 2017 at 19:16
  • Do you have the same image for j:false and journaling off on the server?
    – Tzach
    Sep 13, 2017 at 7:59

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