30th September 2021: PostgreSQL 14 Released!
Supported Versions: Current (14) / 13 / 12 / 11 / 10 / 9.6
Development Versions: devel
Unsupported versions: 9.5 / 9.4 / 9.3 / 9.2 / 9.1 / 9.0 / 8.4 / 8.3 / 8.2 / 8.1 / 8.0 / 7.4 / 7.3 / 7.2
This documentation is for an unsupported version of PostgreSQL.
You may want to view the same page for the current version, or one of the other supported versions listed above instead.

21.3. Log File Maintenance

It's a good idea to save the database server's log output somewhere, rather than just routing it to /dev/null. The log output is invaluable when it comes time to diagnose problems. However, the log output tends to be voluminous (especially at higher debug levels) and you won't want to save it indefinitely. You need to "rotate" the log files so that new log files are started and old ones thrown away every so often.

If you simply direct the stderr of the postmaster into a file, the only way to truncate the log file is to stop and restart the postmaster. This may be OK for development setups but you won't want to run a production server that way.

The simplest production-grade approach to managing log output is to send it all to syslog and let syslog deal with file rotation. To do this, set the configurations parameter syslog to 2 (to log to syslog only) in postgresql.conf. Then you can send a SIGHUP signal to the syslog daemon whenever you want to force it to start writing a new log file. If you want to automate log rotation, the logrotate program can be configured to work with log files from syslog.

On many systems, however, syslog is not very reliable, particularly with large log messages; it may truncate or drop messages just when you need them the most. You may find it more useful to pipe the stderr of the postmaster to some type of log rotation program. If you start the server with pg_ctl, then the stderr of the postmaster is already redirected to stdout, so you just need a pipe command:

pg_ctl start | logrotate

The PostgreSQL distribution doesn't include a suitable log rotation program, but there are many available on the Internet; one is included in the Apache distribution, for example.