There are several WAL-related parameters that affect database performance. This section explains their use. Consult Section 3.4 for details about setting configuration parameters.
Checkpoints are points in the sequence of transactions at which it is guaranteed that the data files have been updated with all information logged before the checkpoint. At checkpoint time, all dirty data pages are flushed to disk and a special checkpoint record is written to the log file. As result, in the event of a crash, the recoverer knows from what record in the log (known as the redo record) it should start the REDO operation, since any changes made to data files before that record are already on disk. After a checkpoint has been made, any log segments written before the undo records are no longer needed and can be recycled or removed. (When WAL-based BAR is implemented, the log segments would be archived before being recycled or removed.)
The postmaster spawns a special backend process every so often
to create the next checkpoint. A checkpoint is created every
CHECKPOINT_SEGMENTS log segments, or
whichever comes first. The default settings are 3 segments and
300 seconds respectively. It is also possible to force a
checkpoint by using the SQL command CHECKPOINT.
checkpoints to be done more often. This allows faster after-crash
recovery (since less work will need to be redone). However, one
must balance this against the increased cost of flushing dirty
data pages more often. In addition, to ensure data page
consistency, the first modification of a data page after each
checkpoint results in logging the entire page content. Thus a
smaller checkpoint interval increases the volume of output to the
log, partially negating the goal of using a smaller interval, and
in any case causing more disk I/O.
There will be at least one 16MB segment file, and will
normally not be more than 2 *
CHECKPOINT_SEGMENTS + 1 files. You can use this
to estimate space requirements for WAL. Ordinarily, when old log
segment files are no longer needed, they are recycled (renamed to
become the next sequential future segments). If, due to a
short-term peak of log output rate, there are more than 2 *
CHECKPOINT_SEGMENTS + 1 segment
files, the unneeded segment files will be deleted instead of
recycled until the system gets back under this limit.
There are two commonly used WAL functions:
LogInsert is used to place a new record into
the WAL buffers in shared
memory. If there is no space for the new record,
LogInsert will have to write (move to kernel
cache) a few filled WAL
buffers. This is undesirable because
LogInsert is used on every database low level
modification (for example, tuple insertion) at a time when an
exclusive lock is held on affected data pages, so the operation
needs to be as fast as possible. What is worse, writing
WAL buffers may also force the
creation of a new log segment, which takes even more time.
Normally, WAL buffers should
be written and flushed by a
LogFlush request, which is made, for the most
part, at transaction commit time to ensure that transaction
records are flushed to permanent storage. On systems with high
LogFlush requests may
not occur often enough to prevent WAL buffers being written by
LogInsert. On such systems one should increase
the number of WAL buffers by
modifying the postgresql.conf
WAL_BUFFERS parameter. The default
number of WAL buffers is 8.
Increasing this value will correspondingly increase shared memory
defines for how many microseconds the backend will sleep after
writing a commit record to the log with
LogInsert but before performing a
LogFlush. This delay allows other backends to
add their commit records to the log so as to have all of them
flushed with a single log sync. No sleep will occur if
fsync is not enabled or if fewer
COMMIT_SIBLINGS other backends
are not currently in active transactions; this avoids sleeping
when it's unlikely that any other backend will commit soon. Note
that on most platforms, the resolution of a sleep request is ten
milliseconds, so that any nonzero
COMMIT_DELAY setting between 1 and 10000
microseconds will have the same effect. Good values for these
parameters are not yet clear; experimentation is encouraged.
determines how PostgreSQL will
ask the kernel to force WAL updates out to disk. All the options
should be the same as far as reliability goes, but it's quite
platform-specific which one will be the fastest. Note that this
parameter is irrelevant if
been turned off.
to any nonzero value will result in each
call being logged to standard error. At present, it makes no
difference what the nonzero value is. This option may be replaced
by a more general mechanism in the future.
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