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Articles tagged: WAL

David Rowley

Speeding up recovery & VACUUM in Postgres 14

Written byBy David Rowley | March 25, 2021Mar 25, 2021

One of the performance projects I’ve focused on in PostgreSQL 14 is speeding up PostgreSQL recovery and vacuum. In the PostgreSQL team at Microsoft, I spend most of my time working with other members of the community on the PostgreSQL open source project. And in Postgres 14 (due to release in Q3 of 2021), I committed a change to optimize the compactify_tuples function, to reduce CPU utilization in the PostgreSQL recovery process. This performance optimization in PostgreSQL 14 made our crash recovery test case about 2.4x faster.

The compactify_tuples function is used internally in PostgreSQL:

  • when PostgreSQL starts up after a non-clean shutdown—called crash recovery
  • by the recovery process that is used by physical standby servers to replay changes (as described in the write-ahead log) as they arrive from the primary server
  • by VACUUM

So the good news is that the improvements to compactify_tuples will: improve crash recovery performance; reduce the load on the standby server, allowing it to replay the write-ahead log from the primary server more quickly; and improve VACUUM performance.

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Ozgun Erdogan

Three Approaches to PostgreSQL Replication and Backup

Written byBy Ozgun Erdogan | February 21, 2018Feb 21, 2018

The Citus distributed database scales out PostgreSQL through sharding, replication, and query parallelization. For replication, our database as a service (by default) leverages the streaming replication logic built into Postgres.

When we talk to Citus users, we often hear questions about setting up Postgres high availability (HA) clusters and managing backups. How do you handle replication and machine failures? What challenges do you run into when setting up Postgres HA?

The PostgreSQL database follows a straightforward replication model. In this model, all writes go to a primary node. The primary node then locally applies those changes and propagates them to secondary nodes.

In the context of Postgres, the built-in replication (known as “streaming replication”) comes with several challenges:

  • Postgres replication doesn’t come with built-in monitoring and failover. When the primary node fails, you need to promote a secondary to be the new primary. This promotion needs to happen in a way where clients write to only one primary node, and they don’t observe data inconsistencies.
  • Many Postgres clients (written in different programming languages) talk to a single endpoint. When the primary node fails, these clients will keep retrying the same IP or DNS name. This makes failover visible to the application.
  • Postgres replicates its entire state. When you need to construct a new secondary node, the secondary needs to replay the entire history of state change from the primary node. This process is resource intensive—and makes it expensive to kill nodes in the head and bring up new ones.

The first two challenges are well understood. Since the last challenge isn’t as widely recognized, we’ll examine it in this blog post.

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A key part of running a reliable database service is ensuring you have a good plan for disaster recovery. Disaster recovery comes into play when disks or instances fail, and you need to be able to recover your data. In those type of cases logical backups, via pg_dump, may be days old and in such cases not ideal for you to restore from. To remove the risk of data loss, many of us turn to the Postgres WAL to keep safe.

Years ago Daniel Farina, now a principal engineer at Citus Data, authored a continuous archiving utility to make it easy for Postgres users to prepare for and recover from disasters. The tool, WAL-E, has been used to keep millions of Postgres databases safe. Today we’re excited to introduce an exciting new version of this tool: WAL-G. WAL-G, the successor to WAL-E, was created by a software engineering intern here at Citus Data, Katie Li, who is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley.

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AWS is the leader when it comes to the cloud, and for good reason. AWS is well ahead in the quality and breadth of services they offer.

However, when a service is running at the scale of AWS, it is natural to expect some failures to occur. According to AWS EBS availability is designed for 99.999%.

The annual failure rate (AFR) is 0.1% - 0.2%, where failure means a complete or partial failure. For example, if you had 1,000 EBS discs, you should expect 1 or 2 to have a failure per year. In our experience, partial failure is significantly more common than a complete loss. Even so, a partial loss can take a lot of time to resolve and can still be debilitating to a business.

Over the years, there have been some AWS failures that made news headlines due to havoc caused for both companies and their users. These incidents put a spotlight on AWS’ imperfections.

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