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pg_dump

Name

pg_dump --  extract a PostgreSQL database into a script file or other archive file

Synopsis

pg_dump [option...] [dbname]

Description

pg_dump is a utility for backing up a PostgreSQL database. It makes consistent backups even if the database is being used concurrently. pg_dump does not block other users accessing the database (readers or writers).

Dumps can be output in script or archive file formats. The script files are in plain-text format and contain the SQL commands required to reconstruct the database to the state it was in at the time it was saved. To restore these scripts, use psql. They can be used to reconstruct the database even on other machines and other architectures, with some modifications even on other SQL database products.

The alternative archive file formats that are meant to be used with pg_restore to rebuild the database, and they also allow pg_restore to be selective about what is restored, or even to reorder the items prior to being restored. The archive files are also designed to be portable across architectures.

When used with one of the archive file formats and combined with pg_restore, pg_dump provides a flexible archival and transfer mechanism. pg_dump can be used to backup an entire database, then pg_restore can be used to examine the archive and/or select which parts of the database are to be restored. The most flexible output file format is the "custom" format (-Fc). It allows for selection and reordering of all archived items, and is compressed by default. The tar format (-Ft) is not compressed and it is not possible to reorder data when loading, but it is otherwise quite flexible; moreover, it can be manipulated with other tools such as tar.

While running pg_dump, one should examine the output for any warnings (printed on standard error), especially in light of the limitations listed below.

Options

The following command-line options are used to control the output format.

dbname

Specifies the name of the database to be dumped. If this is not specified, the environment variable PGDATABASE is used. If that is not set, the user name specified for the connection is used.

-a
--data-only

Dump only the data, not the schema (data definitions).

This option is only meaningful for the plain-text format. For the other formats, you may specify the option when you call pg_restore.

-b
--blobs

Include large objects in dump.

-c
--clean

Output commands to clean (drop) database objects prior to (the commands for) creating them.

This option is only meaningful for the plain-text format. For the other formats, you may specify the option when you call pg_restore.

-C
--create

Begin the output with a command to create the database itself and reconnect to the created database. (With a script of this form, it doesn't matter which database you connect to before running the script.)

This option is only meaningful for the plain-text format. For the other formats, you may specify the option when you call pg_restore.

-d
--inserts

Dump data as INSERT commands (rather than COPY). This will make restoration very slow; it is mainly useful for making dumps that can be loaded into non-PostgreSQL databases. Note that the restore may fail altogether if you have rearranged column order. The -D option is safer, though even slower.

-D
--column-inserts
--attribute-inserts

Dump data as INSERT commands with explicit column names (INSERT INTO table (column, ...) VALUES ...). This will make restoration very slow; it is mainly useful for making dumps that can be loaded into non-PostgreSQL databases.

-f file
--file=file

Send output to the specified file. If this is omitted, the standard output is used.

-F format
--format=format

Selects the format of the output. format can be one of the following:

p

Output a plain-text SQL script file (default)

t

Output a tar archive suitable for input into pg_restore. Using this archive format allows reordering and/or exclusion of schema elements at the time the database is restored. It is also possible to limit which data is reloaded at restore time.

c

Output a custom archive suitable for input into pg_restore. This is the most flexible format in that it allows reordering of data load as well as schema elements. This format is also compressed by default.

-i
--ignore-version

Ignore version mismatch between pg_dump and the database server.

pg_dump can handle databases from previous releases of PostgreSQL, but very old versions are not supported anymore (currently prior to 7.0). Use this option if you need to override the version check (and if pg_dump then fails, don't say you weren't warned).

-n namespace
--schema=schema

Dump the contents of schema only. If this option is not specified, all non-system schemas in the target database will be dumped.

Note: In this mode, pg_dump makes no attempt to dump any other database objects that objects in the selected schema may depend upon. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the results of a single-schema dump can be successfully restored by themselves into a clean database.

-o
--oids

Dump object identifiers (OIDs) for every table. Use this option if your application references the OID columns in some way (e.g., in a foreign key constraint). Otherwise, this option should not be used.

-O
--no-owner

Do not output commands to set ownership of objects to match the original database. By default, pg_dump issues SET SESSION AUTHORIZATION statements to set ownership of created schema elements. These statements will fail when the script is run unless it is started by a superuser (or the same user that owns all of the objects in the script). To make a script that can be restored by any user, but will give that user ownership of all the objects, specify -O.

This option is only meaningful for the plain-text format. For the other formats, you may specify the option when you call pg_restore.

-R
--no-reconnect

This option is obsolete but still accepted for backwards compatibility.

-s
--schema-only

Dump only the schema (data definitions), no data.

-S username
--superuser=username

Specify the superuser user name to use when disabling triggers. This is only relevant if --disable-triggers is used. (Usually, it's better to leave this out, and instead start the resulting script as superuser.)

-t table
--table=table

Dump data for table only. It is possible for there to be multiple tables with the same name in different schemas; if that is the case, all matching tables will be dumped. Specify both --schema and --table to select just one table.

Note: In this mode, pg_dump makes no attempt to dump any other database objects that the selected table may depend upon. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the results of a single-table dump can be successfully restored by themselves into a clean database.

-v
--verbose

Specifies verbose mode. This will cause pg_dump to print progress messages to standard error.

-x
--no-privileges
--no-acl

Prevent dumping of access privileges (grant/revoke commands).

-X use-set-session-authorization
--use-set-session-authorization

This option is obsolete but still accepted for backwards compatibility. pg_dump now always behaves in the way formerly selected by this option.

-X disable-triggers
--disable-triggers

This option is only relevant when creating a data-only dump. It instructs pg_dump to include commands to temporarily disable triggers on the target tables while the data is reloaded. Use this if you have referential integrity checks or other triggers on the tables that you do not want to invoke during data reload.

Presently, the commands emitted for --disable-triggers must be done as superuser. So, you should also specify a superuser name with -S, or preferably be careful to start the resulting script as a superuser.

This option is only meaningful for the plain-text format. For the other formats, you may specify the option when you call pg_restore.

-Z 0..9
--compress=0..9

Specify the compression level to use. Zero means no compression. For the custom archive format, this specifies compression of individual table-data segments, and the default is to compress at a moderate level. For plain text output, setting a nonzero compression level causes the entire output file to be compressed, as though it had been fed through gzip; but the default is not to compress. The tar archive format currently does not support compression at all.

The following command-line options control the database connection parameters.

-h host
--host=host

Specifies the host name of the machine on which the server is running. If the value begins with a slash, it is used as the directory for the Unix domain socket. The default is taken from the PGHOST environment variable, if set, else a Unix domain socket connection is attempted.

-p port
--port=port

Specifies the TCP port or local Unix domain socket file extension on which the server is listening for connections. Defaults to the PGPORT environment variable, if set, or a compiled-in default.

-U username

Connect as the given user

-W

Force a password prompt. This should happen automatically if the server requires password authentication.

Environment

PGDATABASE
PGHOST
PGPORT
PGUSER

Default connection parameters.

Diagnostics

pg_dump internally executes SELECT statements. If you have problems running pg_dump, make sure you are able to select information from the database using, for example, psql.

Notes

If your database cluster has any local additions to the template1 database, be careful to restore the output of pg_dump into a truly empty database; otherwise you are likely to get errors due to duplicate definitions of the added objects. To make an empty database without any local additions, copy from template0 not template1, for example:

CREATE DATABASE foo WITH TEMPLATE template0;

pg_dump has a few limitations:

  • When dumping a single table or as plain text, pg_dump does not handle large objects. Large objects must be dumped with the entire database using one of the non-text archive formats.

  • When a data-only dump is chosen and the option --disable-triggers is used, pg_dump emits commands to disable triggers on user tables before inserting the data and commands to re-enable them after the data has been inserted. If the restore is stopped in the middle, the system catalogs may be left in the wrong state.

Members of tar archives are limited to a size less than 8 GB. (This is an inherent limitation of the tar file format.) Therefore this format cannot be used if the textual representation of a table exceeds that size. The total size of a tar archive and any of the other output formats is not limited, except possibly by the operating system.

Once restored, it is wise to run ANALYZE on each restored table so the optimizer has useful statistics.

Examples

To dump a database:

$ pg_dump mydb > db.out

To reload this database:

$ psql -d database -f db.out

To dump a database called mydb that contains large objects to a tar file:

$ pg_dump -Ft -b mydb > db.tar

To reload this database (with large objects) to an existing database called newdb:

$ pg_restore -d newdb db.tar

History

The pg_dump utility first appeared in Postgres95 release 0.02. The non-plain-text output formats were introduced in PostgreSQL release 7.1.

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