Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Java Authors: Ruxit Blog, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yakov Fain, Plutora Blog

Related Topics: Virtualization, Java, Linux, Open Source

Virtualization: Blog Post

GridFS and MongoDB: Pros and Cons

Should I use GridFS for file storage with MongoDB

GridFS looks like a great idea on paper - a virtual filesystem held within MongoDB which allows for larger than 16MB files to be held, synced and replicated. It's very tempting when architecting your solutions to want to consider using GridFS. It appears to be able to take on the problem of storing many thousands or millions of files without consuming file-system resources where there are often hard limits on the number of file names. It also seems to allow for massive files to be stored without any obvious downsides.

It is important, though, to know what GridFS is under the hood. For any file being stored with GridFS, the file is chopped into 255KB chunks. Those chunks are saved in a bucket, called fs, and a collection in that bucket, fs.chunks. Metadata about the files is stored in another collection in the same bucket, fs.files, though you can have more buckets with different bucket names in the same database. An index makes retrieving the chunks quick. All this chunking and metadata management is not done by the MongoDB database though. It is a task performed by the client's driver which is then wrapped in a GridFS API for that driver.

When you put or retrieve a large file of size nKB, in its entirety, what is happening is the driver is retrieving all the relevant chunks, all nKB/255KB chunks, as documents, assembling them at the client end and writing them out to wherever they are needed. So a 16MB file is retrieved as 65 documents of 255K each. Consider what would happen if you did that regularly on your MongoDB database outside of GridFS; there would be severe competition for the servers RAM between those documents and the rest of the database.

The chunking with GridFS and the fact that it is done by the driver also means that large operations like replacing an entire file within GridFS are not atomic and there's no built in versioning to fall back on. This may, or may not, be a problem for some applications where files are concurrently accessible by many users or their applications. You can, though, work around this by layering on your own versioning scheme over GridFS, only making replacement files the latest version when they have completed writing.

There is an upside of to chunking though - it is remarkably cheap to access particular sections of files because they are broken up into manageable blocks during the chunking so if you need to access particular parts of large binary files, you won't be pushing the working set out of memory in the server. You can also adjust the chunk size so if your application would work better with a smaller or larger chunk, you can tune your GridFS usage by requesting a particular size of chunk. Smaller chunks would push fewer parts of the working set out of memory, larger chunks less so.

You can avoid the entire issue of contention with your working set of data by having another MongoDB server dedicated to GridFS storage and optimized towards your file storage use patterns. This also lets you focus on tuning the best performance out of your core database instance without having to look over your shoulder for the march of the GridFS files through your working set. With MongoHQ, creating a separate database instance is easier than ever and there'll be a plan to suit your needs.

If you are dealing with files less than 16MB and want to handle them as atomic entities, it is also worth considering whether you need to use GridFS at all because you can have MongoDB documents with 16MB fields. You will have to ensure that when reading the database, you only pull the large fields into memory when you need to, but this does give you the atomic replacement writes and architecturally simpler system you may desire. The down side is that access to binary ranges within the file will likely require downloading the file, modifying it and re-writing it, but it is all about balance and matching your file storage and use patterns.

So, as we said at the beginning, "it depends" if GridFS is a good fit for your application's file storage needs. There are some pitfalls which you can avoid at planning time with some estimates of what quantity of file data you want to store and how you want to access it. There are also many benefits to a MongoDB and GridFS solution, especially in terms of replication and synchronization.

More Stories By DJ Walker-Morgan

Content Curator at MongoHQ, Dj has been both a developer and writer since Apples came in ][ flavors and Commodores had Pets.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, had reached 30,000 page views on his home page - http://RobertoMedrano.SYS-CON.com/ - on the SYS-CON family of online magazines, which includes Cloud Computing Journal, Internet of Things Journal, Big Data Journal, and SOA World Magazine. He is a recognized executive in the information technology fields of SOA, internet security, governance, and compliance. He has extensive experience with both start-ups and large companies, having been involved at the beginning of four IT industries: EDA, Open Systems, Computer Security and now SOA.
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, a...
When it comes to the Internet of Things, hooking up will get you only so far. If you want customers to commit, you need to go beyond simply connecting products. You need to use the devices themselves to transform how you engage with every customer and how you manage the entire product lifecycle. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, will show how “product relationship management” can help you leverage your connected devices and the data they generate about customer usage and product performance to deliver extremely compelling and reliabl...
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
Operational Hadoop and the Lambda Architecture for Streaming Data Apache Hadoop is emerging as a distributed platform for handling large and fast incoming streams of data. Predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and Internet-of-Things analysis are examples where Hadoop provides the scalable storage, processing, and analytics platform to gain meaningful insights from granular data that is typically only valuable from a large-scale, aggregate view. One architecture useful for capturing and analyzing streaming data is the Lambda Architecture, representing a model of how to analyze rea...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - is now accepting submissions to demo smart cars on the Expo Floor. Smart car sponsorship benefits include general brand exposure and increasing engagement with the developer ecosystem.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
When it comes to the Internet of Things, hooking up will get you only so far. If you want customers to commit, you need to go beyond simply connecting products. You need to use the devices themselves to transform how you engage with every customer and how you manage the entire product lifecycle. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, will show how “product relationship management” can help you leverage your connected devices and the data they generate about customer usage and product performance to deliver extremely compelling and reliabl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 9-11, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3–5, 2015 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from ...
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Open Data Centers (ODC), a carrier-neutral colocation provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Open Data Centers is a carrier-neutral data center operator in New Jersey and New York City offering alternative connectivity options for carriers, service providers and enterprise customers.
The IoT market is projected to be $1.9 trillion tidal wave that’s bigger than the combined market for smartphones, tablets and PCs. While IoT is widely discussed, what not being talked about are the monetization opportunities that are created from ubiquitous connectivity and the ensuing avalanche of data. While we cannot foresee every service that the IoT will enable, we should future-proof operations by preparing to monetize them with extremely agile systems.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. Learn about IoT, Big Data and deployments processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Intelligent Systems Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Established in 1994, Intelligent Systems Services Inc. is located near Washington, DC, with representatives and partners nationwide. ISS’s well-established track record is based on the continuous pursuit of excellence in designing, implementing and supporting nationwide clients’ mission-critical systems. ISS has completed many successful projects in Healthcare, Commercial, Manufacturing, ...
PubNub on Monday has announced that it is partnering with IBM to bring its sophisticated real-time data streaming and messaging capabilities to Bluemix, IBM’s cloud development platform. “Today’s app and connected devices require an always-on connection, but building a secure, scalable solution from the ground up is time consuming, resource intensive, and error-prone,” said Todd Greene, CEO of PubNub. “PubNub enables web, mobile and IoT developers building apps on IBM Bluemix to quickly add scalable realtime functionality with minimal effort and cost.”
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.