mongodb: insert if not exists

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Solution 1: [1]

Sounds like you want to do an "upsert". MongoDB has built-in support for this. Pass an extra parameter to your update() call: {upsert:true}. For example:

key = {'key':'value'}
data = {'key2':'value2', 'key3':'value3'};
coll.update(key, data, upsert=True); #In python upsert must be passed as a keyword argument

This replaces your if-find-else-update block entirely. It will insert if the key doesn't exist and will update if it does.


{"key":"value", "key2":"Ohai."}


{"key":"value", "key2":"value2", "key3":"value3"}

You can also specify what data you want to write:

data = {"$set":{"key2":"value2"}}

Now your selected document will update the value of "key2" only and leave everything else untouched.

Solution 2: [2]

As of MongoDB 2.4, you can use $setOnInsert (

Set 'insertion_date' using $setOnInsert and 'last_update_date' using $set in your upsert command.

To turn your pseudocode into a working example:

now = datetime.utcnow()
for document in update:
            '_id': document['_id'],
            '$setOnInsert': {
                'insertion_date': now,
            '$set': {
                'last_update_date': now,

Solution 3: [3]

You could always make a unique index, which causes MongoDB to reject a conflicting save. Consider the following done using the mongodb shell:

> db.getCollection("test").insert ({a:1, b:2, c:3})
> db.getCollection("test").find()
{ "_id" : ObjectId("50c8e35adde18a44f284e7ac"), "a" : 1, "b" : 2, "c" : 3 }
> db.getCollection("test").ensureIndex ({"a" : 1}, {unique: true})
> db.getCollection("test").insert({a:2, b:12, c:13})      # This works
> db.getCollection("test").insert({a:1, b:12, c:13})      # This fails
E11000 duplicate key error index: foo.test.$a_1  dup key: { : 1.0 }

Solution 4: [4]

You may use Upsert with $setOnInsert operator.

db.Table.update({noExist: true}, {"$setOnInsert": {xxxYourDocumentxxx}}, {upsert: true})

Solution 5: [5]

I don't think mongodb supports this type of selective upserting. I have the same problem as LeMiz, and using update(criteria, newObj, upsert, multi) doesn't work right when dealing with both a 'created' and 'updated' timestamp. Given the following upsert statement:

update( { "name": "abc" }, 
        { $set: { "created": "2010-07-14 11:11:11", 
                  "updated": "2010-07-14 11:11:11" }},
        true, true ) 

Scenario #1 - document with 'name' of 'abc' does not exist: New document is created with 'name' = 'abc', 'created' = 2010-07-14 11:11:11, and 'updated' = 2010-07-14 11:11:11.

Scenario #2 - document with 'name' of 'abc' already exists with the following: 'name' = 'abc', 'created' = 2010-07-12 09:09:09, and 'updated' = 2010-07-13 10:10:10. After the upsert, the document would now be the same as the result in scenario #1. There's no way to specify in an upsert which fields be set if inserting, and which fields be left alone if updating.

My solution was to create a unique index on the critera fields, perform an insert, and immediately afterward perform an update just on the 'updated' field.


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Source: Stack Overflow

Solution Credit
Solution 1 Van Nguyen
Solution 2 andy
Solution 3 Ram Rajamony
Solution 4 YulCheney
Solution 5 Yonsink