How do I update/upsert a document in Mongoose?


Perhaps it's the time, perhaps it's me drowning in sparse documentation and not being able to wrap my head around the concept of updating in Mongoose :)

Here's the deal:

I have a contact schema and model (shortened properties):

var mongoose = require('mongoose'),
    Schema = mongoose.Schema;

var mongooseTypes = require("mongoose-types"),
    useTimestamps = mongooseTypes.useTimestamps;

var ContactSchema = new Schema({
    phone: {
        type: String,
        index: {
            unique: true,
            dropDups: true
    status: {
        type: String,
        lowercase: true,
        trim: true,
        default: 'on'
var Contact = mongoose.model('Contact', ContactSchema);

I receive a request from the client, containing the fields I need and use my model thusly:

var contact = new Contact({
    status: request.status

And now we reach the problem:

  1. If I call{...}) I'll receive an error if the contact with the same phone number already exists (as expected - unique)
  2. I can't call update() on contact, since that method does not exist on a document
  3. If I call update on the model:
    Contact.update({}, contact, {upsert: true}, function(err{...})
    I get into an infinite loop of some sorts, since the Mongoose update implementation clearly doesn't want an object as the second parameter.
  4. If I do the same, but in the second parameter I pass an associative array of the request properties {status: request.status, phone: ...} it works - but then I have no reference to the specific contact and cannot find out its createdAt and updatedAt properties.

So the bottom line, after all I tried: given a document contact, how do I update it if it exists, or add it if it doesn't?

Thanks for your time.

5/1/2019 4:42:33 PM

Accepted Answer

Well, I waited long enough and no answer. Finally gave up the whole update/upsert approach and went with:

ContactSchema.findOne({phone:}, function(err, contact) {
    if(!err) {
        if(!contact) {
            contact = new ContactSchema();
        contact.status = request.status; {
            if(!err) {
                console.log("contact " + + " created at " + contact.createdAt + " updated at " + contact.updatedAt);
            else {
                console.log("Error: could not save contact " +;

Does it work? Yep. Am I happy with this? Probably not. 2 DB calls instead of one.
Hopefully a future Mongoose implementation would come up with a Model.upsert function.

9/5/2011 3:09:10 AM

Mongoose now supports this natively with findOneAndUpdate (calls MongoDB findAndModify).

The upsert = true option creates the object if it doesn't exist. defaults to false.

var query = {'username':req.user.username};
req.newData.username = req.user.username;
MyModel.findOneAndUpdate(query, req.newData, {upsert:true}, function(err, doc){
    if (err) return res.send(500, { error: err });
    return res.send("succesfully saved");

In older versions Mongoose does not support these hooks with this method:

  • defaults
  • setters
  • validators
  • middleware

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