Write Concern

The mongo_client and mongo_replica_set_client functions set a default write concern at the top level specifying acknowledged writes.

In addition to reporting write errors, write concern also allows you to ensure that your write are replicated to a particular number of servers to a set of servers tagged with a given value.

Or for very-high write performance, write concern can specify writes without acknowledgment. This is recommended only for cases that can tolerate the potential loss of a few writes such as logging, analytics, etc.

The old mongo_connect and mongo_replica_set_connect functions have a default write concern where writes are unacknowledged. They are deprecated and temporarily available for backward compatibility to smooth transition to the mongo_client and mongo_replica_set_client functions.

Implementation and API

Write concern is implemented by appending a call to the getlasterror command after each write. You can certainly do this manually, but nearly all of the drivers provide a write concern API for simplicty. To read about the options for getlasterror, and hence the options for write concern, see the MongoDB getlasterror docs.

The MongoDB C driver supports write concern on two levels. You can set the write concern on a mongo connection object, in which case that write concern level will be used for every write. You can also specify a write concern for any individual write operation (mongo_insert(), mongo_insert_batch(), mongo_update(), or mongo_remove). This will override any default write concern set on the connection level.

Here are specific parameters, values, and meanings:

w = -1 : errors ignored w = 0 : unacknowledged w = 1 : acknowledged w = 2 : replica acknowledged j = 1 (true) : journaled fsync = 1 (true) : fsynced


 #include <mongo.h>
 #include <stdio.h>

 #define ASSERT(x) \
  do{ \
      if(!(x)){ \
          printf("\nFailed ASSERT [%s] (%d):\n     %s\n\n", __FILE__,  __LINE__,  #x); \
          exit(1); \

 int main() {
     mongo conn[1];
     mongo_write_concern write_concern[1];
     bson b[1];

     if( mongo_client( conn, "", 27017 ) == MONGO_ERROR ) {
         printf( "Failed to connect!\n" );

     mongo_cmd_drop_collection( conn, "test", "foo", NULL );

     /* Initialize the write concern object.*/
     mongo_write_concern_init( write_concern );
     write_concern->w = 1;
     mongo_write_concern_finish( write_concern );

     bson_init( b );
     bson_append_new_oid( b );
     bson_finish( b );

     ASSERT( mongo_insert( conn, "test.foo", b, write_concern ) == MONGO_OK );

     /* If we try to insert the same document again,
        we'll get an error due to the unique index on _id.*/
     ASSERT( mongo_insert( conn, "test.foo", b, write_concern ) == MONGO_ERROR );
     ASSERT( conn->err == MONGO_WRITE_ERROR );
     printf( "Error message: %s\n", conn->lasterrstr );

     /* Clear any stored errors.*/
     mongo_clear_errors( conn );

     /* We'll get the same error if we set a default write concern
        on the connection object but don't set it on insert.*/
     mongo_set_write_concern( conn, write_concern );
     ASSERT( mongo_insert( conn, "test.foo", b, 0 ) == MONGO_ERROR );
     ASSERT( conn->err == MONGO_WRITE_ERROR );
     printf( "Error message: %s\n", conn->lasterrstr );

     mongo_write_concern_destroy( write_concern );
     bson_destroy( b );
     mongo_destroy( conn );

     return 0;


As you’ll see in the code sample, the process for creating a write concern object is to initialize it, manually set any write concern values (e.g., w, wtimeout for values of w greater than 1, j, etc.), and then call mongo_write_concern_finish() on it. This will effectively create the equivalent getlasterror command. Note you must call mongo_write_concern_destroy() when you’re finished with the write concern object.

And for a longer example, see the C driver’s write concern tests.

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