How to control automatic maintenance activities in PostgreSQL?

In PostgreSQL, there are several automatic maintenance activities that occur to keep the database healthy and optimized.

These activities include: auto vacuumingauto analyzing, and auto checkpointing

While these automated processes are crucial for maintaining good performance, you may sometimes need to control or customize them based on your specific requirements. Here are some ways to control automatic maintenance activities in PostgreSQL: 

  1. Configuration parameters:PostgreSQL provides various configuration parameters that allow you to control the behavior of automatic maintenance activities. The key parameters related to maintenance activities include:
    • autovacuum: This parameter enables or disables the automatic vacuum process. You can set it to “on” or “off” to control auto vacuuming.
    • autovacuum_analyze_threshold and autovacuum_vacuum_threshold: These parameters determine the number of updated or deleted rows in a table that triggers an automatic vacuum or analyze operation. You can adjust these thresholds to control when auto vacuuming and auto analyzing occur.
    • autovacuum_max_workers: This parameter defines the maximum number of worker processes that can be used for auto vacuuming. You can increase or decrease this value based on the available system resources and workload.
    • checkpoint_timeout and checkpoint_completion_target: These parameters control the frequency and duration of automatic checkpoints. You can adjust them to control the checkpointing behavior.
  2. Manual execution:If you want more control over maintenance activities, you can manually trigger vacuuming and analyzing operations using the VACUUM and ANALYZE statements. By manually executing these commands, you can schedule them at specific times or intervals that suit your workload and resource availability. 
  3. Scheduling utilities:PostgreSQL provides utilities like pg_cron and external schedulers (e.g., cron) that allow you to schedule maintenance tasks at specific times or intervals. You can use these utilities to run VACUUM and ANALYZE commands with custom schedules. 
  4. Table-level settings:PostgreSQL allows you to customize maintenance behavior at the table level using the ALTER TABLE command. For example, you can set specific options like autovacuum_enabled, autovacuum_analyze_scale_factor, or autovacuum_vacuum_scale_factor on individual tables to override the database-level settings. 

It’s important to strike a balance between automatic and manual maintenance activities based on your workload, system resources, and performance requirements. Regularly monitor the performance and health of your database to ensure that the maintenance activities are effectively managing the database’s needs. 

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About Shiv Iyer 444 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.