What is the difference between findAndModify and update in MongoDB?


I'm a little bit confused by the findAndModify method in MongoDB. What's the advantage of it over the update method? For me, it seems that it just returns the item first and then updates it. But why do I need to return the item first? I read the MongoDB: the definitive guide and it says that it is handy for manipulating queues and performing other operations that need get-and-set style atomicity. But I didn't understand how it achieves this. Can somebody explain this to me?

If you fetch an item and then update it, there may be an update by another thread between those two steps. If you update an item first and then fetch it, there may be another update in-between and you will get back a different item than what you updated.

Doing it "atomically" means you are guaranteed that you are getting back the exact same item you are updating - i.e. no other operation can happen in between.