What is the best way to store dates in MongoDB

Discussion created by gracylayla on Mar 1, 2018
Latest reply on Mar 1, 2018 by fmpdude

I am just starting to learn about MongoDB and hoping to slowly migrate from MySQL.

In MySQL, there are two different data types – DATE (‘0000-00-00’) and DATETIME (‘0000-00-00 00:00:00’). In my MySQL, I use the DATE type, but I am not sure how to transfer them into MongoDB. In MongoDB, there is a Date object, which is comparable to DATETIME. It seems it would be most appropriate to use Date objects, but that would be wasting space, since hours, min, sec are not utilized. On the other hand, storing dates as strings seems wrong.

Is there a golden standard on storing dates (‘0000-00-00’) in MongoDB?

BSON (the storage data format used by mongo natively) has a dedicated date type UTC datetime which is a 64 bit (so, 8 byte) signed integer denoting milliseconds since Unix time epoch. There are very few valid reasons why you would use any other type for storing dates and timestamps.

If you’re desperate to save a few bytes per date (again, with mongo’s padding and minimum block size and everything this is only worth the trouble in very rare cases) you can store dates as a 3 byte binary blob by storing it as an unsigned integer in YYYYMMDD format, or a 2 byte binary blob denoting “days since January 1st of year X” where X must be chosen appropriately since that only supports a date range spanning 179 years.

EDIT: As the discussion below demonstrates this is only a viable approach in very rare circumstances.


Basically; use mongo’s native date type


I’m actually in the process of converting a MongoDB database where dates are stored as proper Date() types to instead store them as strings in the form yyyy-mm-dd. Why, considering that every other answerer says that this is a horrible idea? Simply put, because of the neverending pain I’ve been suffering trying to work with dates in JavaScript, which has no (real) concept of timezones. I had been storing UTC dates in MongoDB, i.e. a Date() object with my desired date and the time set as midnight UTC, but it’s unexpectedly complicated and error-prone to get a user-submitted date correctly converted to that from whatever timezone they happen to be in. I’ve been struggling to get my JavaScript “whatever local timezone to UTC” code to work (and yes, I’m aware of Sugar.js and Moment.js) and I’ve decided that simple strings like the good old MySQL standard yyyy-mm-dd is the way to go, and I’ll parse into Date() objects as needed at runtime on the client side.

Incidentally, I’m also trying to sync this MongoDB database with a FileMaker database, which also has no concept of timezones. For me the simplicity of simply not storing time data, especially when it’s meaningless like UTC midnight, helps ensure less-buggy code even if I have to parse to and from the string dates now and then.