pg_rewind — synchronize a PostgreSQL data directory with another data directory that was forked from it
pg_rewind is a tool for synchronizing a PostgreSQL cluster with another copy of the same cluster, after the clusters' timelines have diverged. A typical scenario is to bring an old master server back online after failover as a standby that follows the new master.
The result is equivalent to replacing the target data directory with the source one. Only changed blocks from relation files are copied; all other files are copied in full, including configuration files. The advantage of pg_rewind over taking a new base backup, or tools like rsync, is that pg_rewind does not require reading through unchanged blocks in the cluster. This makes it a lot faster when the database is large and only a small fraction of blocks differ between the clusters.
pg_rewind examines the
timeline histories of the source and target clusters to
determine the point where they diverged, and expects to find
WAL in the target cluster's
pg_wal directory reaching all the way back to
the point of divergence. The point of divergence can be found
either on the target timeline, the source timeline, or their
common ancestor. In the typical failover scenario where the
target cluster was shut down soon after the divergence, this is
not a problem, but if the target cluster ran for a long time
after the divergence, the old WAL files might no longer be
present. In that case, they can be manually copied from the WAL
archive to the
or fetched on startup by configuring
recovery.conf. The use of pg_rewind is not limited to failover, e.g.
a standby server can be promoted, run some write transactions,
and then rewinded to become a standby again.
When the target server is started for the first time after
running pg_rewind, it will go
into recovery mode and replay all WAL generated in the source
server after the point of divergence. If some of the WAL was no
longer available in the source server when pg_rewind was run, and therefore could not
be copied by the pg_rewind
session, it must be made available when the target server is
started. This can be done by creating a
recovery.conf file in the target data
directory with a suitable
pg_rewind requires that the
target server either has the wal_log_hints
option enabled in
or data checksums enabled when the cluster was initialized with
initdb. Neither of these are
currently on by default. full_page_writes
must also be set to
on, but is
enabled by default.
If pg_rewind fails while processing, then the data folder of the target is likely not in a state that can be recovered. In such a case, taking a new fresh backup is recommended.
pg_rewind will fail immediately if it finds files it cannot write directly to. This can happen for example when the source and the target server use the same file mapping for read-only SSL keys and certificates. If such files are present on the target server it is recommended to remove them before running pg_rewind. After doing the rewind, some of those files may have been copied from the source, in which case it may be necessary to remove the data copied and restore back the set of links used before the rewind.
pg_rewind accepts the following command-line arguments:
This option specifies the target data directory that is synchronized with the source. The target server must be shut down cleanly before running pg_rewind
Specifies the file system path to the data directory of the source server to synchronize the target with. This option requires the source server to be cleanly shut down.
Specifies a libpq connection string to connect to the source PostgreSQL server to synchronize the target with. The connection must be a normal (non-replication) connection with superuser access. This option requires the source server to be running and not in recovery mode.
Do everything except actually modifying the target directory.
Enables progress reporting. Turning this on will deliver an approximate progress report while copying data from the source cluster.
Print verbose debugging output that is mostly useful for developers debugging pg_rewind.
Display version information, then exit.
Show help, then exit.
--source-server option is
used, pg_rewind also uses the
environment variables supported by libpq (see Section 34.14).
The basic idea is to copy all file system-level changes from the source cluster to the target cluster:
Scan the WAL log of the target cluster, starting from the last checkpoint before the point where the source cluster's timeline history forked off from the target cluster. For each WAL record, record each data block that was touched. This yields a list of all the data blocks that were changed in the target cluster, after the source cluster forked off.
Copy all those changed blocks from the source
cluster to the target cluster, either using direct file
system access (
--source-pgdata) or SQL (
Copy all other files such as
pg_xact and configuration files from
the source cluster to the target cluster (everything
except the relation files). Similarly to base backups,
the contents of the directories
pg_subtrans/ are omitted from the
data copied from the source cluster. Any file or
directory beginning with
pgsql_tmp is omitted, as well as are
Apply the WAL from the source cluster, starting from the checkpoint created at failover. (Strictly speaking, pg_rewind doesn't apply the WAL, it just creates a backup label file that makes PostgreSQL start by replaying all WAL from that checkpoint forward.)