PostgreSQL Performance Best Practices

Top 8 tips to go through when aiming to optimize PostgreSQL performance. Follow these and other important steps and ensure a better database performance.

Digital Analytics
8 min
Digital Analytics
PostgreSQL Performance Best Practices

When it comes to managing a database, performance is one of the most crucial and complicated processes.

PostgreSQL is a robust, open-source object-relational database software that has been in use since the mid-1990s.

With over 30 years on the market, PostgreSQL has earned a solid reputation for dependability, flexibility, and efficiency.

Top 8 tips for a better PostgreSQL performance

PostgreSQL performance improvement can be made by following these eight tips that will help ensure better database performance.

tips for a better postgreSQL performance

1. Tune your PostgreSQL server

The first thing you want to do when optimizing PostgreSQL ensures that it is properly tuned.

PostgreSQL provides you with many configurable settings that can adjust depending upon the use case, hardware, and other needs.

Many PostgreSQL configurations are dependent on certain variables like OS type and network infrastructure.

Postgres recommends using their configuration wizard to guide you through tuning your Postgres server for better performance.

2. Set up your commit interval appropriately

By default, PostgreSQL will commit transactions automatically every 100 milliseconds via auto-commit mode.

This means that there could potentially be up to 100 individual commands sent down per millisecond to process data efficiently into your database — this is not ideal.

Using this option puts unnecessary strain on both memory and processing power which can lead to system failure.

3. Understand your hardware

The type and quality of the hardware you use for your database server significantly impact its performance. Here are a few tips for things to consider when purchasing hardware.

RAM — You want as much RAM as possible. With more RAM comes more disk cache, which is directly related to memory and performance.

Disk types — Fast Ultra-320 SCSI disks are your best choice, but high-end SATA drives are excellent as well.

With SATA, each disk is less expensive, allowing you to purchase more spindles than with SCSI on the same budget.

Disk configuration — RAID 1+0 is the best combination, with as many disks as possible and your transaction log (pg_xlog) on a separate disk.

RAID 5 isn't recommended for databases using less than six disks in a volume.

To improve performance, you may use the tablespaces option to split different tables, databases, and indexes across multiple disks in PostgreSQL versions later than 9.2.

CPUs — The more CPUs you have, the better, but if your database does not require many complex algorithms, extra RAM or a faster disk system are both suitable investments.

4. Use EXPLAIN PostgreSQL

One of the first things we can do to figure out how to improve our database's performance is to look at the queries that are run.

The PostgreSQL EXPLAIN command displays how the PostgreSQL optimizer will execute a query.

You can use the Postgres EXPLAIN command to see which steps (or operations) are performing as part of each SQL statement.

A query plan is made up of a hierarchy of plan nodes. Scan nodes are located at the bottom level of the tree.

They return raw rows from a table, which is what they're designed for. For each node in the tree, there is a line in the EXPLAIN output.

Understand how the EXPLAIN function works, and your performance will surely be on the path to improvement.

5. Update the config file

The PostgreSQL configuration file is a text document containing Postgres instructions on how to start up and additional settings, such as the port number Postgres should use.

The config file uses the INI format (e.g., [section] option = value).

There are three ways you can update your Postgres configuration files: by using a command-line utility called pg_config, via an editor like VIM or VI, or through the PG Admin III GUI interface.

Note: If you used apt-get install PostgreSQL, it would be located at /etc/PostgreSQL/VERSION/.

You'll have to edit this version, so make sure that when updating its contents change "VERSION" in both.

6. Monitor your database

The PostgreSQL monitor is a command-line utility that can check the performance of your Postgres database.

The PostgreSQL monitor provides users with information about queries, connections, and locks in real-time.

7. Check for long transactions

Sometimes when you are working on tasks within Postgres, it may seem like they have stopped responding, but this is not always true.

Sometimes, simply refreshing the page will allow them to continue as normal.

However, if there has been no activity from your workstation or server after more than 30 seconds, then usually what's happened is that one of these processes was hung up somehow.

Checking whether anything was running against the databases helps identify issues here.

8. Generate logs and enable log checkpoints

PostgreSQL logs are beneficial for troubleshooting Postgres performance problems.

The PostgreSQL log file is a record of all the SQL commands executed against your Postgres database, besides information about those queries.

Checkpoints are extremely inconvenient to your database performance, and they might cause connections to stall for up to a few seconds while taking place.

In PostgreSQL 8.3 or newer, you may enable verbose logging of the checkpoint procedure by enabling log_checkpoints.


PostgreSQL Performance is a complex issue, but there are some basic Postgres best practices that you can follow to ensure your PostgreSQL database performs as well as possible.

Since each developer and individual that uses PostgresSQL will have varying hardware and technology, it does not come with "one size fits all" optimization.

Once you begin working with PostgreSQL, you must understand your particular situation and optimize it based on your tuning needs.

If you are looking forward to enhancing your database performance, Adservio with its team of professionals and our long expertise can help you do that, contact us.

Published on
September 16, 2021

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