By Mark Drake
Manager, Developer Education
An earlier version of this tutorial was written by Melissa Anderson.
MongoDB is a document-oriented database used in many modern web applications. By default, it only allows connections that originate on the same server where it’s installed. If you want to manage MongoDB remotely or connect it to a separate application server, there are a few changes you’d need to make to the default configuration.
In this tutorial, you will configure a MongoDB installation to securely allow access from a trusted remote computer. To do this, you’ll update your firewall rules to provide the remote machine access to the port on which MongoDB is listening for connections and then update its configuration file to change its IP binding setting. Then, as a final step, you’ll test that your remote machine is able to make the connection to your database successfully.
To complete this tutorial, you’ll need:
Note: Lastly, while it isn’t required to complete this tutorial, we strongly recommend that you secure your MongoDB installation by creating an administrative user account for the database and enabling authentication. To do this, follow our tutorial on How To Secure MongoDB on Ubuntu 20.04.
Assuming you followed the prerequisite initial server setup tutorial and enabled a UFW firewall on your server, your MongoDB installation will be inaccessible from the internet. If you intend to use MongoDB only locally with applications running on the same server, this is the recommended and secure setting. However, if you would like to be able to connect to your MongoDB server from a remote location, you have to allow incoming connections to the port where the database is listening by adding a new UFW rule.
Start by checking which port your MongoDB installation is listening on with the
lsof command. This command typically returns a list with every open file in a system, but when combined with the
-i option, it lists only network-related files or data streams.
The following command will redirect the output produced by
lsof -i to a
grep command that searches for a string named
- sudo lsof -i | grep mongo
This example output shows that MongoDB is listening for connections on its default port,
Outputmongod 82221 mongodb 11u IPv4 913411 0t0 TCP localhost:27017 (LISTEN)
In most cases, MongoDB should only be accessed from certain trusted locations, such as another server hosting an application or a local machine from used to manage a remote MongoDB instance. One way to configure this is to run the following command on your MongoDB server, which opens up access on MongoDB’s default port while explicitly only allowing the IP address of the other trusted machine.
Run the following command, making sure to change
trusted_machine_ip to the IP address of the trusted remote computer you’ll use to access your MongoDB instance.
Note: If you aren’t sure of the trusted machine’s IP address, you can run the following
curl command. This will access the website
icanhazip.com, which will return the IP address of the machine from which you run the command:
curl -4 icanhazip.com
Also, if the previous command’s output showed your installation of MongoDB is listening on a non default port, use that port number in place of
27017 in this command:
- sudo ufw allow from trusted_machine_ip to any port 27017
In the future, if you ever want to access MongoDB from another machine, run this command again with the new machine’s IP address in place of
You can verify the change in firewall settings with
- sudo ufw status
The output will show that traffic to port
27017 from the remote server is now allowed:
To Action From
-- ------ ----
OpenSSH ALLOW Anywhere
27017 ALLOW trusted_machine_ip
OpenSSH (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6)
You can find more advanced firewall settings for restricting access to services in UFW Essentials: Common Firewall Rules and Commands.
Next, you’ll bind MongoDB to the server’s public IP address so you can access it from your remote machine.
At this point, even though the port is open, MongoDB is currently bound to
127.0.0.1, the local loopback network interface. This means that MongoDB is only able to accept connections that originate on the server where it’s installed.
To allow remote connections, you must edit the MongoDB configuration file —
/etc/mongod.conf — to additionally bind MongoDB to an IP address which can be reached by your trusted remote computer. This way, your MongoDB installation will be able to listen to connections made to your MongoDB server from remote machines.
Open the MongoDB configuration file in your preferred text editor. The following example uses
- sudo nano /etc/mongod.conf
network interfaces section, then the
. . .
# network interfaces
. . .
Append a comma to this line followed by your MongoDB server’s public IP address:
. . .
# network interfaces
. . .
Please note that this should be the IP address of the server on which you’ve installed MongoDB, not the IP address of your trusted remote machine.
Save and close the file. If you used
nano, do so by pressing
CTRL + X,
Then, restart MongoDB to put this change into effect:
- sudo systemctl restart mongod
Following that, your MongoDB installation will be able to accept remote connections from whatever machines you’ve allowed to access port
27017. As a final step, you can test whether the trusted machine you allowed through the firewall in Step 1 can reach the MongoDB instance running on your server.
Now that you configured your MongoDB installation to listen for connections that originate on its publicly-routable IP address and granted your remote machine access through your server’s firewall to Mongo’s default port, you can test that the remote machine is able to connect.
Note: As mentioned in the Prerequisites section, this tutorial assumes that your remote machine is another server running Ubuntu 20.04. The procedure for enabling remote connections outlined in Steps 1 and 2 should work regardless of what operating system your remote machine runs, but the testing methods described in this Step do not work universally across operating systems.
One way to test that your trusted computer is able to connect to the MongoDB instance is to use the
nc, short for netcat, is a utility used to establish network connections with TCP or UDP. It’s useful for testing in cases like this because it allows you to specify both an IP address and a port number.
First, log into your trusted server using SSH:
- ssh sammy@trusted_machine_ip
Then run the following
nc command, which includes the
-z option. This limits
nc to only scan for a listening daemon on the target server without sending it any data. Recall from the prerequisite installation tutorial that MongoDB is running as a service daemon, making this option useful for testing connectivity. It also includes the
v option which increases the command’s verbosity, causing netcat to return some output which it otherwise wouldn’t.
Run the following
nc command from your trusted remote server, making sure to replace
mongodb_server_ip with the IP address of the server on which you installed MongoDB:
- nc -zv mongodb_server_ip 27017
If the trusted server can access the MongoDB daemon, its output will indicate that the connection was successful:
OutputConnection to mongodb_server_ip 27017 port [tcp/*] succeeded!
Assuming you have a compatible version of the
mongo shell installed on your remote server, you can at this point connect directly to the MongoDB instance installed on the host server.
One way to connect is with a connection string URI, like this:
- mongo "mongodb://mongo_server_ip:27017"
Note: If you followed the recommended How To Secure MongoDB on Ubuntu 20.04 tutorial, you will have closed off access to your database to unauthenticated users. In this case, you’d need to use a URI that specifies a valid username, like this:
- mongo "mongodb://username@mongo_server_ip:27017"
The shell will automatically prompt you to enter the user’s password.
With that, you’ve confirmed that your MongoDB server can accept connections from the trusted server.
You can now access your MongoDB installation from a remote server. At this point, you can manage your MongoDB database remotely from the trusted server. Alternatively, you could configure an application to run on the trusted server and use the database remotely.
If you haven’t configured an administrative user and enabled authentication, anyone who has access to your remote server can also access your MongoDB installation. If you haven’t already done so, we strongly recommend that you follow our guide on How To Secure MongoDB on Ubuntu 20.04 to add an administrative user and lock things down further.
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