Optimizing PostgreSQL Performance: A Guide to Using pg_test_fsync for Effective Fsync Method Selection

Optimizing PostgreSQL performance is an art, and the right fsync method can make all the difference. Explore how to select the most effective fsync method using pg_test_fsync in our latest guide: https://minervadb.xyz/optimizing-postgresql-performance-a-guide-to-using-pg_test_fsync-for-effective-fsync-method-selection/ 🚀 #PostgreSQL #DatabasePerformance #Optimization

pg_test_fsync is a utility included with PostgreSQL that helps you determine the most efficient method for your system to issue fsync() calls, which are crucial for ensuring data durability. This tool tests various fsync methods to see which provides the best performance on your hardware configuration. It’s particularly useful when setting up a new PostgreSQL server or when trying to optimize an existing one.

How to Use pg_test_fsync:

  1. Locate the Utility:
    • pg_test_fsync is typically located in the bin directory of your PostgreSQL installation.
    • If it’s not there, you may need to install additional PostgreSQL tools or packages depending on your operating system.
  2. Run pg_test_fsync:
    • Open a terminal or command prompt.
    • Navigate to the PostgreSQL bin directory.
    • Run the utility by typing pg_test_fsync and pressing Enter.
  3. Examine the Output:
    • The tool will test different methods of fsync (like open_datasync, fdatasync, fsync, fsync_writethrough, and open_sync) and different write sizes.
    • It will output the number of operations (fsync calls) it can perform per second for each method.
  4. Interpret the Results:
    • Higher numbers indicate better performance for your system.
    • Look for the method that provides the highest throughput (operations per second).
  5. Configuring PostgreSQL:
    • Based on the results, you might decide to adjust the wal_sync_method parameter in your postgresql.conffile.
    • This parameter controls how PostgreSQL issues its write-ahead log (WAL) fsync calls.
    • Choose the method from pg_test_fsync that had the best performance.
  6. Restart PostgreSQL:
    • After making changes to postgresql.conf, restart your PostgreSQL server to apply the new configuration.


Suppose pg_test_fsync indicates that open_datasync is the fastest method on your system. You would then set:

in your postgresql.conf.


  • Running pg_test_fsync can be disk-intensive. It’s recommended to run it during a maintenance window or when the server is not under heavy load.
  • The utility is most useful on systems using spinning disks. With SSDs, the differences between methods might be less pronounced, but it can still be worth testing.
  • Always backup your postgresql.conf before making changes.
  • Remember that the fastest method might not always be the safest in terms of data durability, so weigh the trade-offs between performance and reliability.


Optimizing PostgreSQL performance is crucial for efficient database operations, and selecting the right fsync method is a key factor in achieving this. Utilizing pg_test_fsync allows for a systematic evaluation of fsync methods to identify the most efficient one for your hardware configuration. By interpreting the test results and adjusting the wal_sync_method parameter accordingly, you can significantly enhance the performance of your PostgreSQL server.

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.