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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. Script dumps are plain-text files containing the SQL commands required to reconstruct the database to the state it was in at the time it was saved. To restore from such a script, feed it to psql. Script files 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 must be used with pg_restore to rebuild the database. They allow pg_restore to be selective about what is restored, or even to reorder the items prior to being restored. The archive file formats are 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 standard Unix 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 control the content and format of the output.

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 archive formats, you can specify the option when you call pg_restore.

-b
--blobs

Include large objects in the dump. This is the default behavior except when --schema, --table, or --schema-only is specified, so the -b switch is only useful to add large objects to selective dumps.

-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 archive formats, you can 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 archive formats, you can specify the option when you call pg_restore.

-E encoding
--encoding=encoding

Create the dump in the specified character set encoding. By default, the dump is created in the database encoding. (Another way to get the same result is to set the PGCLIENTENCODING environment variable to the desired dump encoding.)

-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
plain

Output a plain-text SQL script file (the default).

c
custom

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

t
tar

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

-i
--ignore-version

A deprecated option that is now ignored.

-n schema
--schema=schema

Dump only schemas matching schema; this selects both the schema itself, and all its contained objects. When this option is not specified, all non-system schemas in the target database will be dumped. Multiple schemas can be selected by writing multiple -n switches. Also, the schema parameter is interpreted as a pattern according to the same rules used by psql's \d commands (see Patterns), so multiple schemas can also be selected by writing wildcard characters in the pattern. When using wildcards, be careful to quote the pattern if needed to prevent the shell from expanding the wildcards.

Note: When -n is specified, pg_dump makes no attempt to dump any other database objects that the selected schema(s) might depend upon. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the results of a specific-schema dump can be successfully restored by themselves into a clean database.

Note: Non-schema objects such as blobs are not dumped when -n is specified. You can add blobs back to the dump with the --blobs switch.

-N schema
--exclude-schema=schema

Do not dump any schemas matching the schema pattern. The pattern is interpreted according to the same rules as for -n. -N can be given more than once to exclude schemas matching any of several patterns.

When both -n and -N are given, the behavior is to dump just the schemas that match at least one -n switch but no -N switches. If -N appears without -n, then schemas matching -N are excluded from what is otherwise a normal dump.

-o
--oids

Dump object identifiers (OIDs) as part of the data 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 ALTER OWNER or SET SESSION AUTHORIZATION statements to set ownership of created database objects. 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 archive formats, you can 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 object definitions (schema), not 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 only tables (or views or sequences) matching table. Multiple tables can be selected by writing multiple -t switches. Also, the table parameter is interpreted as a pattern according to the same rules used by psql's \d commands (see Patterns), so multiple tables can also be selected by writing wildcard characters in the pattern. When using wildcards, be careful to quote the pattern if needed to prevent the shell from expanding the wildcards.

The -n and -N switches have no effect when -t is used, because tables selected by -t will be dumped regardless of those switches, and non-table objects will not be dumped.

Note: When -t is specified, pg_dump makes no attempt to dump any other database objects that the selected table(s) might depend upon. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the results of a specific-table dump can be successfully restored by themselves into a clean database.

Note: The behavior of the -t switch is not entirely upward compatible with pre-8.2 PostgreSQL versions. Formerly, writing -t tab would dump all tables named tab, but now it just dumps whichever one is visible in your default search path. To get the old behavior you can write -t '*.tab'. Also, you must write something like -t sch.tab to select a table in a particular schema, rather than the old locution of -n sch -t tab.

-T table
--exclude-table=table

Do not dump any tables matching the table pattern. The pattern is interpreted according to the same rules as for -t. -T can be given more than once to exclude tables matching any of several patterns.

When both -t and -T are given, the behavior is to dump just the tables that match at least one -t switch but no -T switches. If -T appears without -t, then tables matching -T are excluded from what is otherwise a normal dump.

-v
--verbose

Specifies verbose mode. This will cause pg_dump to output detailed object comments and start/stop times to the dump file, and progress messages to standard error.

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

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

-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.

--binary-upgrade

This option is for use by in-place upgrade utilities. Its use for other purposes is not recommended or supported. The behavior of the option may change in future releases without notice.

--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. Also, since this option generates a separate command for each row, an error in reloading a row causes only that row to be lost rather than the entire table contents. Note that the restore might fail altogether if you have rearranged column order. The --column-inserts option is safe against column order changes, though even slower.

--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. Also, since this option generates a separate command for each row, an error in reloading a row causes only that row to be lost rather than the entire table contents.

--disable-dollar-quoting

This option disables the use of dollar quoting for function bodies, and forces them to be quoted using SQL standard string syntax.

--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 archive formats, you can specify the option when you call pg_restore.

--lock-wait-timeout=timeout

Do not wait forever to acquire shared table locks at the beginning of the dump. Instead fail if unable to lock a table within the specified timeout. The timeout may be specified in any of the formats accepted by SET statement_timeout. (Allowed values vary depending on the server version you are dumping from, but an integer number of milliseconds is accepted by all versions since 7.3. This option is ignored when dumping from a pre-7.3 server.)

--no-tablespaces

Do not output commands to select tablespaces. With this option, all objects will be created in whichever tablespace is the default during restore.

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

--use-set-session-authorization

Output SQL-standard SET SESSION AUTHORIZATION commands instead of ALTER OWNER commands to determine object ownership. This makes the dump more standards compatible, but depending on the history of the objects in the dump, might not restore properly. Also, a dump using SET SESSION AUTHORIZATION will certainly require superuser privileges to restore correctly, whereas ALTER OWNER requires lesser privileges.

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
--username=username

User name to connect as.

-w
--no-password

Never issue a password prompt. If the server requires password authentication and a password is not available by other means such as a .pgpass file, the connection attempt will fail. This option can be useful in batch jobs and scripts where no user is present to enter a password.

-W
--password

Force pg_dump to prompt for a password before connecting to a database.

This option is never essential, since pg_dump will automatically prompt for a password if the server demands password authentication. However, pg_dump will waste a connection attempt finding out that the server wants a password. In some cases it is worth typing -W to avoid the extra connection attempt.

--role=rolename

Specifies a role name to be used to create the dump. This option causes pg_dump to issue a SET ROLE rolename command after connecting to the database. It is useful when the authenticated user (specified by -U) lacks privileges needed by pg_dump, but can switch to a role with the required rights. Some installations have a policy against logging in directly as a superuser, and use of this option allows dumps to be made without violating the policy.

Environment

PGDATABASE
PGHOST
PGOPTIONS
PGPORT
PGUSER

Default connection parameters.

This utility, like most other PostgreSQL utilities, also uses the environment variables supported by libpq (see Section 30.13).

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. Also, any default connection settings and environment variables used by the libpq front-end library will apply.

The database activity of pg_dump is normally collected by the statistics collector. If this is undesirable, you can set parameter track_counts to false via PGOPTIONS or the ALTER USER command.

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;

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 then commands to re-enable them after the data has been inserted. If the restore is stopped in the middle, the system catalogs might 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 any one 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.

The dump file produced by pg_dump does not contain the statistics used by the optimizer to make query planning decisions. Therefore, it is wise to run ANALYZE after restoring from a dump file to ensure good performance; see Section 23.1.3 and Section 23.1.5 for more information. The dump file also does not contain any ALTER DATABASE ... SET commands; these settings are dumped by pg_dumpall, along with database users and other installation-wide settings.

Because pg_dump is used to transfer data to newer versions of PostgreSQL, the output of pg_dump can be expected to load into PostgreSQL server versions newer than pg_dump's version. pg_dump can also dump from PostgreSQL servers older than its own version. (Currently, servers back to version 7.0 are supported.) However, pg_dump cannot dump from PostgreSQL servers newer than its own major version; it will refuse to even try, rather than risk making an invalid dump. Also, it is not guaranteed that pg_dump's output can be loaded into a server of an older major version — not even if the dump was taken from a server of that version. Loading a dump file into an older server may require manual editing of the dump file to remove syntax not understood by the older server.

Examples

To dump a database called mydb into a SQL-script file:

$ pg_dump mydb > db.sql

To reload such a script into a (freshly created) database named newdb:

$ psql -d newdb -f db.sql

To dump a database into a custom-format archive file:

$ pg_dump -Fc mydb > db.dump

To reload an archive file into a (freshly created) database named newdb:

$ pg_restore -d newdb db.dump

To dump a single table named mytab:

$ pg_dump -t mytab mydb > db.sql

To dump all tables whose names start with emp in the detroit schema, except for the table named employee_log:

$ pg_dump -t 'detroit.emp*' -T detroit.employee_log mydb > db.sql

To dump all schemas whose names start with east or west and end in gsm, excluding any schemas whose names contain the word test:

$ pg_dump -n 'east*gsm' -n 'west*gsm' -N '*test*' mydb > db.sql

The same, using regular expression notation to consolidate the switches:

$ pg_dump -n '(east|west)*gsm' -N '*test*' mydb > db.sql

To dump all database objects except for tables whose names begin with ts_:

$ pg_dump -T 'ts_*' mydb > db.sql

To specify an upper-case or mixed-case name in -t and related switches, you need to double-quote the name; else it will be folded to lower case (see Patterns). But double quotes are special to the shell, so in turn they must be quoted. Thus, to dump a single table with a mixed-case name, you need something like

$ pg_dump -t '"MixedCaseName"' mydb > mytab.sql
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