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Storing (small) Images in MongoDB

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The question of if and how to store images in MongoDB keeps popping up on StackOverflow and newsgroups. The two standard answers are "Yeah, use GridFS But GridFS is mongodb javascript bindata a nut with a sledgehammer and storing a large number of files in the file system doesn't usually come with replication, backup or versioning.

Let's explore a simple alternative. Raw image data is neither structured nor searchable anyway, so flat files will do just as well as a database, with less overhead.

That approach still requires the database to store the mongodb javascript bindata to the image, or mongodb javascript bindata convention on how database items and filenames are related. The advantage of this approach is that the static file can be delivered by the web server directly, bypassing your server-side code, database connections and what not.

But we'll get back to that. However, your mongodb javascript bindata IaaS-Server usually doesn't come with a pre-configured distributed file system that mongodb javascript bindata replication and centralized backup - features that you hopefully have in place for your MongoDB already. Also, storing images in the file system isn't trivial at all, because different file systems respond very differently to folders with a very large number of files. Replication, backup, concurrency and limitations for folder sizes and file names aren't fun to deal with.

Then again, since the advent of node. Other platforms such as. The server model is still multi-threaded and very different from node. Sure, there's still overhead, and this would certainly not work for the likes of facebook, but compared to setting up and maintaining another technology for replication and mongodb javascript bindata, this is often a good deal. Also, if the images can be cached by proxies, good caching headers and ETags with a CDN or reverse proxy will probably eliminate most of the requests anyway which highlights the importance of better and easier mongodb javascript bindata vs.

That's another standard answer, and it usually comes with little knowledge of GridFS. GridFS is a mere data model convention which makes it possible to supply some simple tools to help interact with data stored according to that convention. But let's mongodb javascript bindata at this in detail.

We'll store a slightly larger version of this image: The larger version is called large. Ok, so we now see two collections, called fs. Again, these are just regular mongodb javascript bindata. Peeking inside, we find:. But where's mongodb javascript bindata data? Now, if we do db. Ok, that looks like the actual data. Let's exclude that field so we can see the rest of the document clearly:. So we see we have two documents here, both pointing to the same fs.

The value of n specifies the ordering of the chunks so the data doesn't get messed up - that's the GridFS convention, nothing more. Besides working around MongoDB's document size limit of 16MB, the idea of chunking is to mongodb javascript bindata streamingi. Imagine the file is a 2. The default chunk size of GridFS is kB which is supposedly a good compromise of overhead more queries to the database and little memory use, but it can be configured.

But what does that mean for small images? Mongodb javascript bindata only kB, streaming hardly makes sense, and delivering our image will require three round-trips to the database instead of one: One to find the fs.

Even if we increased mongodb javascript bindata chunk size, we'd still need two round-trips before we can even start to deliver the file. As we have seen, there's nothing special about GridFS, so for small files, we can basically just merge the contents of the fs.

This eliminates two of the three round-trips to the database and increases the amount of required RAM only marginally, as long as images are reasonably small. This might not be the best approach for storing large images, but for your typical user thumbnail, it's certainly a viable alternative.

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