PostgreSQL Blocking Queries: Identifying and Resolving Resource Conflicts


In a busy PostgreSQL database environment, resource conflicts can arise, causing queries to be blocked and impacting overall system performance. Identifying and resolving these blocking queries is crucial for maintaining a responsive and efficient database. In this technical blog post, we will explore a powerful SQL query that can help identify and analyze blocking queries in PostgreSQL. By understanding the output of this query, database administrators can take necessary actions to resolve conflicts and optimize database performance.

SELECT AS blocked_pid,
blocked_activity.usename AS blocked_user, AS blocking_pid,
blocking_activity.usename AS blocking_user,
blocked_activity.query AS blocked_query,
blocking_activity.query AS blocking_query
FROM pg_catalog.pg_locks blocked_locks
JOIN pg_catalog.pg_stat_activity blocked_activity ON =
JOIN pg_catalog.pg_locks blocking_locks ON 
(blocking_locks.locktype = blocked_locks.locktype AND
blocking_locks.database IS NOT DISTINCT FROM blocked_locks.database AND
blocking_locks.relation IS NOT DISTINCT FROM blocked_locks.relation AND IS NOT DISTINCT FROM AND
blocking_locks.tuple IS NOT DISTINCT FROM blocked_locks.tuple AND
blocking_locks.virtualxid IS NOT DISTINCT FROM blocked_locks.virtualxid AND
blocking_locks.transactionid IS NOT DISTINCT FROM blocked_locks.transactionid AND
blocking_locks.classid IS NOT DISTINCT FROM blocked_locks.classid AND
blocking_locks.objid IS NOT DISTINCT FROM blocked_locks.objid AND
blocking_locks.objsubid IS NOT DISTINCT FROM blocked_locks.objsubid AND !=
JOIN pg_catalog.pg_stat_activity blocking_activity ON =
WHERE blocked_locks.granted AND NOT blocking_locks.granted;

Query Explanation:

The SQL query provided above focuses on identifying blocked queries and their associated blocking queries. Let’s break down the query and understand its components:

  1. Joining pg_locks and pg_stat_activity:
    • The query starts by joining the pg_locks table with the pg_stat_activity table using the pid (process ID) as the common key.
    • The pg_locks table contains information about all active locks in the database, including the lock type and the process ID holding the lock.
    • The pg_stat_activity table provides details about active database connections, including the user, query being executed, and process ID.
  2. Joining blocking and blocked queries:
    • The query further joins the pg_locks and pg_stat_activity tables again to establish a connection between the blocking and blocked queries.
    • This join is based on matching the lock attributes (locktype, database, relation, page, tuple, etc.) between the blocking and blocked locks.
    • The condition != ensures that the blocking and blocked queries are not the same.
  3. Filtering blocked queries:
    • The WHERE clause filters the result set to include only the blocked queries.
    • The condition blocked_locks.granted AND NOT blocking_locks.granted ensures that the lock on the blocked query is granted while the lock on the blocking query is not.

Output Analysis:

The result of this query provides valuable information about blocked queries and their associated blocking queries. The following columns are included in the output:

  • blocked_pid: The process ID of the blocked query.
  • blocked_user: The username associated with the blocked query.
  • blocking_pid: The process ID of the blocking query.
  • blocking_user: The username associated with the blocking query.
  • blocked_query: The SQL statement of the blocked query.
  • blocking_query: The SQL statement of the blocking query.

By analyzing the output, database administrators can identify the queries causing the blocking and take appropriate actions to resolve the conflicts. This may involve optimizing query performance, adjusting transaction isolation levels, or making necessary schema or index modifications.

Real-Life Example:

Let’s consider a real-life scenario where a database experiences frequent blocking issues due to concurrent updates on a heavily accessed table. By running the provided SQL query, the database administrator can identify the blocking and blocked queries, along with the associated process IDs and SQL statements. With this information, they can investigate the root cause of the conflicts, optimize the queries or transactions, and implement measures to mitigate the blocking issues.


Identifying and resolving blocking queries is essential for maintaining a high-performance PostgreSQL database. By leveraging the power of the SQL query provided in this blog post, database administrators can proactively monitor and address blocking issues. Understanding the output of the query enables them to take appropriate actions to optimize query performance, enhance concurrency, and ensure a smooth and efficient database operation.

By actively monitoring and resolving blocking queries, PostgreSQL administrators can ensure optimal performance, improve user experience, and minimize potential disruptions in their database 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.