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pg_restore --  Restore a Postgres database from an archive file created by pg_dump


pg_restore [ -a ] [ -c ] [ -C ] [ -d dbname ] [ -f archive-file ] [ -F format ] [ -i index ] [ -l ] [ -L contents-file ] [ -N | -o | -r ] [ -O ] [ -P function-name ] [ -R ] [ -s ] [ -S ] [ -t table ] [ -T trigger ] [ -v ] [ -x ] [ -h host ] [ -p port ] [ -u ] [ archive-file ]


pg_restore is a utility for restoring a Postgres database dumped by pg_dump in one of the non-plain-text formats.

The archive files, new with the 7.1 release, contain enough information for pg_restore to rebuild the database, but 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 designed to be portable across architectures. pg_dump will produce the queries necessary to re-generate all user-defined types, functions, tables, indices, aggregates, and operators. In addition, all the data is copied out (in text format for scripts) so that it can be readily copied in again.

pg_restore reads the archive file and outputs the appropriate SQL in the required order based on the command parameters. Obviously, it can not restore information that is not present in the dump file; so if the dump is made using the "dump data as INSERTs" option, pg_restore will not be able to load the data using COPY statements.

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.

To reorder the items, it is first necessary to dump the contents of the archive:

$ pg_restore archive.file -l > archive.list
This file consists of a header and one line for each item, e.g.,
; Archive created at Fri Jul 28 22:28:36 2000
;     dbname: birds
;     TOC Entries: 74
;     Compression: 0
;     Dump Version: 1.4-0
;     Format: CUSTOM
; Selected TOC Entries:
2; 145344 TABLE species postgres
3; 145344 ACL species
4; 145359 TABLE nt_header postgres
5; 145359 ACL nt_header
6; 145402 TABLE species_records postgres
7; 145402 ACL species_records
8; 145416 TABLE ss_old postgres
9; 145416 ACL ss_old
10; 145433 TABLE map_resolutions postgres
11; 145433 ACL map_resolutions
12; 145443 TABLE hs_old postgres
13; 145443 ACL hs_old
Semi-colons are comment delimiters, and the numbers at the start of lines refer to the internal archive ID assigned to each item.

Lines in the file can be commented out, deleted, and reordered. For example,

10; 145433 TABLE map_resolutions postgres
;2; 145344 TABLE species postgres
;4; 145359 TABLE nt_header postgres
6; 145402 TABLE species_records postgres
;8; 145416 TABLE ss_old postgres
could be used as input to pg_restore and would only restore items 10 and 6, in that order.
$ pg_restore archive.file -L archive.list


pg_restore accepts the following command line arguments. (Long option forms are only available on some platforms.)


Specifies the location of the archive file to be restored. If not specified, and no -f option is specified, then the standard input is used.

-a, --data-only

Restore only the data, no schema (definitions).

-c, --clean

Clean (drop) schema prior to create.

-C, --create

Include SQL to create the schema.

-d dbname, --dbname=dbname

Connect to database dbname and restore directly into the database. BLOBs can only be restored by using a direct database connection.

-f filename, --file=filename

Specify output file for generated script. (Use with the -l option.) Default is the standard output.

-F format, --format=format

Specify format of the archive. It is not necessary to specify the format, since pg_restore will determine the format automatically. If specified, it can be one of the following:


Archive is a tar archive. 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.


Archive is in the custom format of pg_dump. 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 index, --index=index

Restore definition for named index only.

-l, --list

List the contents of the archive. The output of this command can be used with the -L option to restrict and reorder the items that are restored.

-L list-file, --use-list=list-file

Restore elements in list-file only, and in the order they appear in the file. Lines can be moved and may also be commented out by placing a ';' at the start of the line.

-N, --orig-order

Restore items in the original dump order. By default pg_dump will dump items in an order convenient to pg_dump, then save the archive in a modified OID order. This option overrides the OID ordering.

-o, --oid-order

Restore items in the OID order. By default pg_dump will dump items in an order convenient to pg_dump, then save the archive in a modified OID order. This option enforces strict OID ordering.

-O, --no-owner

Prevent any attempt to restore original object ownership. Objects will be owned by the user name used to attach to the database.

-P function-name, --function=function-name

Specify a procedure or function to be restored.

-r, --rearrange

Restore items in modified OID order. By default pg_dump will dump items in an order convenient to pg_dump, then save the archive in a modified OID order. Most objects will be restored in OID order, but some things (e.g., rules and indices) will be restored at the end of the process irrespective of their OIDs. This option is the default.

-R, --no-reconnect

Prohibit pg_restore from issuing any

statements or reconnecting to the database if directly connected.
-s, --schema-only

Restore the schema (definitions), no data. Sequence values will be reset.

-S username, --superuser=username

Specify the superuser user name to use when disabling triggers and/or setting ownership of schema elements. By default, pg_restore will use the current user name if it is a superuser.

-t table, --table=table

Restore schema/data for table only.

-T trigger, --trigger=trigger

Restore definition of trigger only.

-v, --verbose

Specifies verbose mode.

-x, --no-acl

Prevent restoration of ACLs (grant/revoke commands).

pg_restore also accepts the following command line arguments for connection parameters:

-h host, --host=host

Specifies the host name of the machine on which the postmaster is running. If host begins with a slash, it is used as the directory for the Unix domain socket.

-p port, --port=port

Specifies the Internet TCP/IP port or local Unix domain socket file extension on which the postmaster is listening for connections. The port number defaults to 5432, or the value of the PGPORT environment variable (if set).


Use password authentication. Prompts for user name and password.


Connection to database 'template1' failed.
connectDBStart() -- connect() failed: No such file or directory
        Is the postmaster running locally
        and accepting connections on Unix socket '/tmp/.s.PGSQL.5432'?
pg_restore could not attach to the postmaster process on the specified host and port. If you see this message, ensure that the postmaster is running on the proper host and that you have specified the proper port. If your site uses an authentication system, ensure that you have obtained the required authentication credentials.

Note: When a direct database connection is specified using the -d option, pg_restore internally executes SQL statements. If you have problems running pg_restore, make sure you are able to select information from the database using, for example, psql.


The limitations of pg_restore are detailed below.

  • When restoring data to a table, pg_restore emits queries to disable triggers on user tables before inserting the data then emits queries 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.

  • pg_restore will not restore BLOBs for a single table. If an archive contains BLOBs, then all BLOBs will be restored.

See the pg_dump documentation for details on limitation of pg_dump.


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 BLOBs to a tar file:

$ pg_dump -Ft -b mydb > db.tar

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

$ pg_restore -d newdb db.tar

See Also

pg_dump , pg_dumpall, psql, PostgreSQL Administrator's Guide