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$backupCursor and $backupCursorExtend aggregation stages

$backupCursor and $backupCursorExtend aggregation stages expose the WiredTiger API which allows making consistent backups. Running these stages allows listing and freezing the files so you can copy them without the files being deleted or necessary parts within them being overwritten.

  • $backupCursor outputs the list of files and their size to copy.

  • $backupCursorExtend outputs the list of WiredTiger transaction log files that have been updated or newly added since the $backupCursor was first run. Saving these files enables restoring the database to any arbitrary time between the $backupCursor and $backupCursorExtend execution times.

They are available in Percona Server for MongoDB starting with version 4.2.15-16.

Percona provides Percona Backup for MongoDB (PBM) – a light-weight open source solution for consistent backups and restores across sharded clusters. PBM relies on these aggregation stages for physical backups and restores. However, if you wish to develop your own backup application, this document describes the $backupCursor and $backupCursorExtend aggregation stages.


You can run these stages in any type of MongoDB deployment. If you need to back up a single node in a replica set, first run the $backupCursor, then the $backupCursorExtend and save the output files to the backup storage.

To make a consistent backup of a sharded cluster, run both aggregation stages on one node from each shard and the config server replica set. It can be either the primary or the secondary node. Note that since the secondary node may lag in syncing the data from the primary one, you will have to wait for the exact same time before running the $backupCursorExtend.

Note that for standalone MongoDB node with disabled oplogs, you can only run the $backupCursor aggregation stage.

Get a list of all files to copy with $backupCursor

var bkCsr = db.getSiblingDB("admin").aggregate([{$backupCursor: {}}])
bkCsrMetadata =

Sample output:

         "metadata" : {
            "backupId": UUID("35c34101-0107-44cf-bdec-fad285e07534"),
            "dbpath": '/var/lib/mongodb',
            "oplogStart": { ts: Timestamp({ t: 1666631297, i: 1 }), t: Long("-1") },
            "oplogEnd": { ts: Timestamp({ t: 1666631408, i: 1 }), t: Long("1") },
            "checkpointTimestamp": Timestamp({ t: 1666631348, i: 1 })
            "disableIncrementalBackup" : false,
            "incrementalBackup" : false,
            "blockSize" : 16

Store the metadata document somewhere, because you need to pass the backupId parameter from this document as the input parameter for the $backupCursorExtend stage. Also you need the oplogEnd timestamp. Make sure that the $backupCursor is complete on all shards in your cluster.


Note that when running $backupCursor in a standalone node deployment, oplogStart, oplogEnd, checkpointTimesatmp values may be absent. This is because standalone node deployments don’t have oplogs.

Run $backupCursorExtend to retrieve the WiredTiger transaction logs

Pass the backupId from the metadata document as the first parameter. For the timestamp parameter, use the maximum (latest) value among the oplogEnd timestamps from all shards and config server replica set. This will be the target time to restore.

var bkExtCsr = db.aggregate([{$backupCursorExtend: {backupId: bkCsrMetadata.backupId, timestamp: new Timestamp(1666631418, 1)}}])

Sample output:

{ "filename" : "/data/plain_rs/n1/data/journal/WiredTigerLog.0000000042" }
{ "filename" : "/data/plain_rs/n1/data/journal/WiredTigerLog.0000000043" }
{ "filename" : "/data/plain_rs/n1/data/journal/WiredTigerLog.0000000044" }

Loop the $backupCursor

Prevent the backup cursor from closing on timeout (default – 10 minutes). This is crucial since it prevents overwriting backup snapshot file blocks with new ones if the files take longer than 10 minutes to copy. Use the getMore command for this purpose.

Copy the files to the storage

Now you can copy the output of both aggregation stages to your backup storage.

After the backup is copied to the storage, terminate the getMore command and close the cursor.


Save the timestamp that you passed for the $backupCursorExtend stage somewhere since you will need it for the restore.

This document is based on the blog post Experimental Feature: $backupCursorExtend in Percona Server for MongoDB by Akira Kurogane

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