How to Identify and Tune PostgreSQL Performance Issues using Wait Events?


Identifying and tuning PostgreSQL performance issues using wait events involves a systematic approach to diagnose and address the underlying causes of performance bottlenecks. Here’s a comprehensive guide.

Runbook for using Wait Events to Tune PostgreSQL Performance

1. Understanding PostgreSQL Wait Events

  • Wait Events: These are indicators in PostgreSQL that show where a process is spending its time, waiting for resources like IO, locks, or network.
  • Types of Wait Events: Common wait events include IO waits, lock waits, LWLock waits, buffer waits, and more.

2. Identifying Wait Events

  • pg_stat_activity: This view provides information on the current activities of each connection, including any wait events.
  • Logging: Configure PostgreSQL to log long-running queries and their associated wait events.
  • Monitoring Tools: Use tools like PgAdmin, Grafana, or third-party monitoring solutions to continuously monitor wait events.

3. Analyzing Wait Events

  • Correlate Wait Events with Queries: Identify which queries are associated with high wait times.
  • System Resource Analysis: Check system resources like CPU, memory, disk I/O, and network usage to see if they correlate with specific wait events.
  • Pattern Recognition: Look for patterns like specific times of high wait events or specific operations causing waits.

4. Tuning Based on Wait Event Types

Lock Waits

  • Optimize Query Logic: Ensure that queries are not unnecessarily holding locks for long periods.
  • Transaction Management: Review transaction sizes and durations. Smaller, faster transactions reduce lock contention.
  • Deadlock Resolution: Analyze deadlocks if present and adjust application logic to prevent them.

LWLock Waits

  • Configuration Tuning: Adjusting parameters like shared_buffers and max_connections can alleviate these waits.
  • Parallel Query Management: In case of high contention, consider limiting the degree of parallelism.

IO Waits

  • Disk Performance Enhancement: Upgrade disk hardware or reconfigure RAID levels for better performance.
  • Query Optimization: Optimize queries to reduce disk I/O, such as by improving indexes or rewriting inefficient queries.
  • Maintenance Operations: Regularly run maintenance tasks like VACUUM, REINDEX, or CLUSTER to improve data organization on disk.

Network Waits

  • Network Optimization: Improve network infrastructure or configuration.
  • Query Distribution: Distribute queries across multiple servers to reduce network load.

5. Regular Monitoring and Adjustment

  • Ongoing Monitoring: Continuously monitor wait events and system performance.
  • Iterative Tuning: Regularly revisit configurations and query optimizations based on changing workloads and performance metrics.

6. Best Practices

  • Load Testing: Test changes in a staging environment under load to predict their impact.
  • Documentation: Document changes made for future reference and troubleshooting.
  • Holistic Approach: Consider wait events as part of a broader performance tuning strategy, which includes application tuning, database schema optimization, and hardware assessments.


Tuning PostgreSQL performance using wait events requires a thorough understanding of how these events relate to overall database performance. By methodically analyzing wait events and correlating them with system performance and query behavior, you can identify and address performance bottlenecks. Regular monitoring and iterative tuning are key to maintaining optimal performance in a dynamic PostgreSQL environment.

About Shiv Iyer 455 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.