MongoDB is an open-source, document database designed for ease of development and scaling.


In this blog post, we are going to learn how to setup mongoDB on Windows. If you are looking for instructions on how to setup MongoDB on Ubuntu check out my post on the topic. At the end of this post, we would have accomplished the following objectives:

  • Setup and configured MongoDB as a Windows service
  • Launched and interacted with the mongo Shell JavaScript Interface
  • Written and retrieved BSON documents to and from mongoDB using the mongo Shell

In the next section of this post, we are going to look at how to install mongoDB on Windows. The section that follows will show you how to launch the interactive shell after server is configured as a Windows service. The penultimate section will then cover the basics of the BSON interchange format and how to save and retrieve documents to and from mongoDB.

Setting up MongoDB

Before you install the .msi package, make sure your system meets the following requirements:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Vista or later

To know which version of Windows you are running, enter the following command in Command Prompt or Powershell:

wmic os get caption

Once your machine meets the above requirements, you have to determine which build of MongoDB you need (32 bit or 64 bit). To know your Windows OS architecture, run the following command in Command Prompt or Powershell:

wmic os get osarchitecture

To setup mongoDB on Windows, first download the latest .msi package from the MongoDB downloads center. Ensure you download the correct version of MongoDB for your Windows system. The 64-bit versions of MongoDB do not work with 32-bit Windows.

Install MongoDB Community Edition

To install MongoDB, you have two options:

  • Interactive Installation
  • Unattended Installation

Interactive Installation

In Windows Explorer, locate the downloaded MongoDB .msi file, which typically is located in the default Downloads folder. Double-click the .msi file. A set of screens will appear to guide you through the installation process. You may specify an installation directory if you choose the Custom installation option.

These instructions assume that you have installed MongoDB to C:\Program Files\MongoDB\Server\3.2\.

MongoDB is self-contained and does not have any other system dependencies. You can run MongoDB from any folder you choose. You may install MongoDB in any folder (e.g. D:\test\mongodb).

Unattended Installation

You may install MongoDB Community unattended on Windows from the command line using msiexec.exe.

  1. Open an Administrator command prompt.
    Press the Win key, type cmd.exe, and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to run the Command Prompt as Administrator.
    Execute the remaining steps from the Administrator command prompt.
  2. Install MongoDB for Windows.
    Change to the directory containing the .msi installation binary of your choice and invoke:
    msiexec.exe /q /i mongodb-win32-x86_64-2008plus-ssl-3.2.11-signed.msi ^
            INSTALLLOCATION="C:\Program Files\MongoDB\Server\3.2\" ^

You can specify the installation location for the executable by modifying the INSTALLLOCATION value.
By default, this method installs all MongoDB binaries. To install specific MongoDB component sets, you can specify them in the ADDLOCAL argument using a comma-separated list including one or more of the following component sets:

Component Set Binaries
Server mongod.exe
Router mongos.exe
Client mongo.exe
MonitoringTools mongostat.exe, mongotop.exe
ImportExportTools mongodump.exe, mongorestore.exe, mongoexport.exe, mongoimport.exe
MiscellaneousTools bsondump.exe, mongofiles.exe, mongooplog.exe, mongoperf.exe

For instance, to install only the MongoDB utilities, invoke:

msiexec.exe /q /i mongodb-win32-x86_64-2008plus-ssl-3.2.11-signed.msi ^
            INSTALLLOCATION="C:\Program Files\MongoDB\Server\3.2\" ^

Configure a Windows Service for MongoDB Community Edition

Open an Administrative Command Prompt by pressing the Win key. Type cmd.exe, and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open Command Prompt in elevated mode.
Execute the remaining steps from the Administrator command prompt.

Create directories for your database and log files:

mkdir c:\data\db
mkdir c:\data\log

Execute the above commands one after the other.

Create a configuration file (mongod.cfg). The file must set systemLog.path. For example, create a file at C:\Program Files\MongoDB\Server\3.2\mongod.cfg or whatever location you prefer that specifies both systemLog.path and storage.dbPath:

    destination: file
    path: c:\data\log\mongod.log
    dbPath: c:\data\db

systemLog.path: This is the location of your logs
storage.dbPath: This is where you data is stored

Run all of the following commands in Command Prompt with “Administrative Privileges”.

Before we go any further, we will add MongoDB to the path. Please refer to this page if you are not familiar with creating environment variables on Windows.
Add a new System Environment Variable. Set the Variable name to MONGO_HOME; and the Variable value to path\to\mongo\root. If you are following along this blog and you used all the defaults, this value will be C:\Program Files\MongoDB\Server\3.2.
Next we would add the MONGO_HOME variable to the path. Select path from System Variables and click Edit… add ;%MONGO_HOME%\bin at the end of the path Variable value.

Install the MongoDB service by starting mongod.exe with the --install option and the -config option to specify the previously created configuration file:

mongod --config "C:\Program Files\MongoDB\Server\3.2\mongod.cfg" --install

To use an alternate dbpath, specify the path in the configuration file (e.g. C:\Program Files\MongoDB\Server\3.2\mongod.cfg) or on the command line with the --dbpath option.

To start the MongoDB service use the following command:

net start MongoDB

To stop the MongoDB service use the following command:

net stop MongoDB

To remove the MongoDB service use the following command:

mongod --remove

The mongo Shell

Now that we have MongoDB set up as a Windows service, we can start hacking with the mongo shell.
The mongo shell is an interactive JavaScript interface to MongoDB. You can use the mongo shell to query and update data as well as perform administrative operations.

The rest of this article assumes that you have MongoDB running as a service on Windows and MongoDB is on the path

In this section we will be learning basic hacks with the mongo Shell. In the next section we will look at inserting into and retrieving documents from the database using the mongo Shell. To start the mongo shell and connect to your MongoDB instance running on localhost with default port:


The command above will generate an output similar to this:

MongoDB shell version: 3.2.11
connecting to: test

When starting, mongo checks the user’s HOME directory for a JavaScript file named .mongorc.js. If found, mongo interprets the content of .mongorc.js before displaying the prompt for the first time. If you use the shell to evaluate a JavaScript file or expression, either by using the --eval option on the command line or by specifying a .js file to mongo, mongo will read the .mongorc.js file after the JavaScript has finished processing. You can prevent .mongorc.js from being loaded by using the --norc option.

To display the database you are using, type db:

> db

The operation should return the default database test:


You should also note that the mongo Shell is a JavaScript interface. You can write regular JavaScript in the Shell:

> var intValue = 0;

We can then write a regular while loop and then print the incrementing value of intValue:

> while (intValue < 10) {
... intValue++;
... print(intValue);
... }

From the example above, there are a few things to note. If you end a line with an open parenthesis (‘(’), an open brace (‘{’), or an open bracket (‘[’), then the subsequent lines start with ellipsis (“...”) until you enter the corresponding closing parenthesis (‘)’), the closing brace (‘}’) or the closing bracket (‘]’). The mongo shell waits for the closing parenthesis, closing brace, or the closing bracket before evaluating the code.

With this in mind the output of the previously executed JavaScript loop will be:


We will look at BSON documents in the next section.

Write and Retrieve BSON Documents

A record in MongoDB is a document, which is a data structure composed of field and value pairs. MongoDB documents are similar to JSON objects. The values of fields may include other documents, arrays, and arrays of documents.

BSON, short for Bin­ary JSON, is a bin­ary-en­coded seri­al­iz­a­tion of JSON-like doc­u­ments. Like JSON, BSON sup­ports the em­bed­ding of doc­u­ments and ar­rays with­in oth­er doc­u­ments and ar­rays. BSON also con­tains ex­ten­sions that al­low rep­res­ent­a­tion of data types that are not part of the JSON spec. For ex­ample, BSON has a Date type and a BinData type.

A document in MongoDB will be represented similar to this:

    name: "Julius",
    age: 26,
    status: "Alive",
    groups: ["google", "github"]

The advantages of using documents are:

  • Documents (i.e. objects) correspond to native data types in many programming languages.
  • Embedded documents and arrays reduce need for expensive joins.
  • Dynamic schema supports fluent polymorphism.

In this section we are going to write into and read from a MongoDB database. To demonstrate this, we will be using the test database. Launch the mongo Shell interface and execute the following commands to switch to the test database:

> use test

MongoDB stores BSON documents, i.e. data records, in collections; the collections in databases. MongoDB stores documents in collections. Collections are analogous to tables in relational databases.

Let us write our first document into MongoDB. To write documents into MongoDB we use Create Operations.
Create or insert operations add new documents to a collection. If the collection does not currently exist, insert operations will create the collection.

MongoDB provides the following methods to insert documents into a collection:

  • db.collection.insert()
  • db.collection.insertOne()
  • db.collection.insertMany()

For this post we will be using only the insert() method. In MongoDB, insert operations target a single collection. All write operations in MongoDB are atomic on the level of a single document:

> db.users.insert(
    name: "Julius",
    age: 26,
    status: "Alive"

This will create the users collection and give the sample output:

WriteResult({ "nInserted" : 1 })

MongoDB uses Read operations to retrieve documents from a collection; i.e. queries a collection for documents. MongoDB provides the following methods to read documents from a collection:

  • db.collection.find()
  • db.collection.findOne()

We will retreive the document we just inserted into the users collection with the find() method:

> db.users.find()

You will get output similar to this:

{ "_id" : ObjectId("5839f9585165b6512261035c"), "name" : "Julius", "age" : 26, "status" : "Alive" }

From the above output there is one thing of note here _id. In MongoDB, each document stored in a collection requires a unique _id field that acts as a primary key. If an inserted document omits the _id field, the MongoDB driver automatically generates an ObjectId for the _id field.
The above output can be made pretty with indentation by calling pretty() on the returned cursor of find():

> db.users.find().pretty()


In this blog post, we learned how to setup MongoDB as a Windows service. We also learned how to use and interact with the mongo JavaScript Shell interface. We finished up with working with BSON documents.
I enjoyed writing this post, I hope you did too and until the next post, keep doing cool things :smile:.