It seems like MongoDB 3.6 isn't automatically configured to restart if it crashes. Looking at the systemd service that is bundled with the latest .deb package for Ubuntu 16.04LTS it doesn't seem to have restarts configured:

$ sudo systemctl cat mongod
# /lib/systemd/system/mongod.service
Description=High-performance, schema-free document-oriented database

ExecStart=/usr/bin/mongod --config /etc/mongod.conf
# file size
# cpu time
# virtual memory size
# open files
# processes/threads
# locked memory
# total threads (user+kernel)

# Recommended limits for for mongod as specified in
# http://docs.mongodb.org/manual/reference/ulimit/#recommended-settings


Sending SIGKILL and SIGSEGV both kill the process and it isn't restarted. I'm not sure if those are "caught" by systemd and not just restarted however.

So a few questions: Is this crucial for a high availability service like a database? It sure seems like it. Is there any reason MongoDB wouldn't have this configured out of the box?


Unexpected shutdown is definitely a case where admin intervention would be strongly recommended, although you can always change the service default for your deployments.

If the reason for a mongod process shutting down is an invariant that cannot be fixed without manual intervention (eg. lack of disk space or data file corruption), automatic restarts won't be helpful and could potentially make the situation worse. In general, mongod should not shut down on recoverable errors. The MongoDB Server Exception Architecture distinguishes between per-operation fatal errors and those that are fatal to the entire process. Process-fatal errors are situations where continuing may lead to dire outcomes like loss of data or corrupt data on disk. A user or O/S initiated signal to terminate the process (such as the Out-of-Memory aka OOM Killer on Linux) will also cause mongod to shutdown.

An example error mentioned in comments was an index build that segfaulted on some secondaries with an older version of MongoDB. With automatic service restarts this scenario could potentially lead to an endless loop where a secondary might crash, restart, resume the index build, encounter the same condition, and restart .. only to resume a doomed index build. While this restart loop is in progress, the intermittent availability of the secondary could impact clients using secondary read preferences or other members of the replica set (for example, repeatedly seeking on an upstream oplog to resume syncing).

As a system administrator I would prefer to review the MongoDB logs and try to understand why the process shut down so the root cause can be addressed. Ideally a deployment will have sufficient fault tolerance to be able to cope with members being unavailable so there is time to investigate and remedy the situation.

Depending on the nature of the issue and deployment (standalone, replica set, or sharded cluster) I may also want to take a backup of the data files before attempting any automatic or manual recovery. For example, when restarted after an unclean shutdown mongod has an initial recovery stage that will apply outstanding journal entries and run storage engine checks like data file integrity in the dbPath. For a standalone server it would be prudent to take a copy of the unmodified data files before any recovery/repair attempts. With a replica set deployment the data is already duplicated on another member of the replica set, so if the standard recovery is unsuccessful I would re-sync this member rather than attempting any repair.


If you are using systemd then Restart=always under the [Service] section should allow the service to restart after a crash.

  • Understood, I guess I was more concerned with why they don't do that by default since it's simple enough. – four43 Mar 22 '18 at 16:02
  • @four43 It's not really that simple. There are many possible failure conditions for as many different services, and this is something that administrators need to choose explicitly. See the documentation. What should bother you is, why Ubuntu didn't put this into their unit file. – Michael Hampton Mar 23 '18 at 16:14
  • @MichaelHampton I'm not concerned with setting up systemd restarts, that's fairly simple. As I said before, I'm more concerned about why they didn't set it up by default. Also Ubuntu doesn't control the unit file, it's in the package provided by the MongoDB group. If you're unfamiliar with their install instructions here they are: docs.mongodb.com/manual/tutorial/install-mongodb-on-ubuntu – four43 Mar 24 '18 at 23:47

If you're really concerned about high-availability, you'd be running a replicaset, and can deal with 1, or more, nodes failing.

Having personally managed a large, sharded mongodb deployment in production for 5 years, I'd prefer instances NOT auto-restart, as I'd want to investigate any issues before it went back into rotation in the replicaset.


  • 1
    So I have managed a large, at scale production. And with an older version of MongoDB I created an index that was propagated to the secondaries, like normal, that seg faulted each server. We had to manually restart each server in our cluster again. You bring up a good point about wanting to investigate what went wrong, but since I've had an issue propagate before, I'm a little wary. A notification about the event then investigating crash dumps and logs might be a better strategy. – four43 Mar 24 '18 at 23:50
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    @four43 If the reason for a process shutting down is an invariant that cannot be automatically fixed (eg lack of disk space, data file corruption) automatic restarts won't be helpful and could potentially make the situation worse. Unexpected shutdown is definitely a case where admin intervention would be strongly recommended, although you can always change the service default for your deployments. Your example of an index build that segfaulted could potentially lead to a case where the service might restart, resume the index build, and encounter the same condition. Leading to a restart ... :). – Stennie Mar 26 '18 at 3:43
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    @Stennie - I appreciate the advice, if anyone were to know, it'd be you :) Thanks for the help. If you want to make your comment an answer, I'll mark it as the accepted solution. – four43 Mar 26 '18 at 15:00
  • 1
    @four43 Sure, answered with some elaboration. – Stennie Mar 29 '18 at 9:47

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