As options proliferate, choosing between different databases can be complicated. This article will help you choose between two popular ones: MongoDB and Firestore. We’ll go over each of their features and what makes one better than the other for different use cases.
In order to understand the differences between these two technologies, we have to emphasize the most important features that make each unique.
The Mongo service offers automated daily backups to the databases managed by the Atlas service. It also offers incremental data recovery and consistent, cluster-wide snapshots of sharded clusters. Firestore’s similar service, “Scheduled export”, has to be configured and implemented manually by the administrator. In the other hand, Firestore can be configured to export all its data to a cloud storage bucket, almost like a backup but harder to recover in a case of a failure or the need to roll back the data because you have to manually update all your database, in this case, MongoDB feature is better for backing up.
Mongo has a unique level of security for its Atlas service. Firestore has its own security rules that work slightly differently:
This is one of the most important features that distinguishes Firestore from other services. The capability to update and listen to changes in the database in real-time is pretty neat when working with web/mobile applications, giving all the users the feeling they are updated all the time. Mongo can be integrated with other technologies to make this possible, but it requires a lot of work and a very specific infrastructure. For example, an application that keeps a user’s to-do list and syncs between the mobile and web versions of the app would best utilize Firebase because of its ability to provide real-time updates.
Working with Firestore gives the developer the ability to enable offline support to save data locally and then sync it with the cloud whenever the connection is back. Offline data is not new to web and mobile applications; the difference here is that this feature already comes out of the box using the Firestore library. Let's imagine that you have to create a web application for local businesses to manage their inventory, sales, and providers. This sounds like a more robust application, so for this multi-purpose approach you should be using MongoDB, since it can be installed in your own server and doesn't need to have internet access to store or process data. MongoDB can also be installed in Linux, Windows, Solaris, and OS X, which means a server application can be developed locally without needing any remote connections.
Here are some reasons you might want to pick each Mongo over Firestore, or vice versa:
While MongoDB has the Atlas service to offer a cloud solution for its database, Firestore has an entire development platform included in Firebase. This simplifies many things and gives more time to the developers to focus on coding. For example, Firebase’s hosting service provides a complete hosting solution where you can deploy your application assets directly from your code. It already has https and a domain where other applications can interact and consume its APIs. On the back end, Firebase provides Cloud Functions — simple code snippets executed on the cloud so you don’t have to worry about how to get a server to handle requests.
MongoDB has the ability to respond to requests faster than most other NoSQL databases, and it usually outperforms Firestore in processing read/write/update operations. That’s due to its proprietary protocol which converts the data and transfers it on its own port, while Firebase utilizes the https protocol which can be slower for the encryption associated with it. Also, the MongoDB engine was designed to work with light to heavy data transactions, but Firestore was designed to handle mobile applications data, which is often much lighter than working with blobs and analytics in real-time — the type of data MongoDB was designed to work with.
Firestore can scale automatically in multiple regions with data replication and strong consistency. MongoDB Atlas, on the other hand, offers cross-region replication, distributing nodes around the world. The key difference here is that MongoDB has a fault-tolerant infrastructure, while Firestore removes this concern securing the replication no matter what. This means that, according to Google’s SLAs, the data will continue to migrate from one region to another even if the server holding it fails because their infrastructure has several redundant nodes to secure this process all the way. While Firestore only distributes these nodes within the same continent, MongoDB distributes them globally. An application with a global user base would benefit from MongoDB’s cross-region platform support and worldwide data replication.
Whenever you are using a NoSQL database as your application’s main data store, MongoDB should be your first option; it’s highly scalable in the long run, and even though Firestore has scalability features as well, Firesore was designed to start developing applications quickly and solve problems on the go. MongoDB, on the other hand, can be structured to satisfy immediate, mid-term, and long-term needs as a project matures. Additionally, the Firebase suite is focused on providing a fast ecosystem for mobile development, with crash analytics, performance insights, and push notifications, but in a single region established from the beginning of the project. MongoDB can be used from any ecosystem and has tools to integrate business analytics and structured queries, and its unique protocol to establish connections and be cloned among different regions using the Atlas ecosystem which provides such functionality.
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