Skip to content

Backup and restore types

As of version 1.7.0, Percona Backup for MongoDB supports physical and logical backups and restores. This document describes each type.


Physical backups and restores is the technical preview feature [1]. Before using them in production, we recommend that you test restoring from physical backups in your environment, and also use an alternative backup method for redundancy.

Physical backup is copying of physical files from the Percona Server for MongoDB dbPath data directory to the remote backup storage. These files include data files, journal, index files, etc. Physical restore is the reverse process: pbm-agents shut down the mongod nodes, clean up the dbPath data directory and copy the physical files from the storage to it.

During physical backups and restores, pbm-agents don’t connect to the database and don’t read the data. This significantly reduces the backup / restore time compared to logical ones and is the recommended backup method for big (multi-terabyte) databases.

Physical backups and restores are available for Percona Server for MongoDB starting from versions 4.2.15-16, 4.4.6-8, 5.0 and higher. Since physical backups heavily rely on the WiredTiger $backupCursor functionality, they are available only for WiredTiger storage engine.

Logical backup is the copying of the actual database data. A pbm-agent connects to the database, retrieves the data and writes it to the remote backup storage. During the restore, the reverse process occurs: the pbm-agent retrieves the backup data from the storage and inserts it to the dbPath data directory.

Logical backups allow for point in time recovery





  • Faster backup and restore speed

  • Recommended for big, multi-terabyte datasets

  • No database overhead

  • The backup size is bigger than for logical backups due to data fragmentation extra cost of keeping data and indexes in appropriate data structures

  • Extra manual operations are required after the restore

  • Point in time recovery is not supported


  • Easy to operate with, using a single command

  • Support for incremental backups and point-in-time recovery

  • The backup size is smaller as it includes only the data

  • Much slower than physical backup / restore

  • Adds database overhead on reading and inserting the data