Creating a Database Copy in PostgreSQL: Two Main Approaches


This is the simplest method and involves using the CREATE DATABASE command with the WITH TEMPLATE clause. This command creates a new database based on the structure and data of an existing one.

Here's the syntax:

CREATE DATABASE [new_database_name] WITH TEMPLATE [original_database] OWNER [username];
  • Replace [new_database_name] with the desired name for your copy.

  • Replace [original_database] with the name of the database you want to copy.

  • Replace [username] (optional) with the username who will own the new database. If omitted, it will default to the current user.

    1. Using pg_dump and pg_restore:

This method involves creating a dump of the original database and then restoring it into a new database. This approach offers more flexibility as you can exclude specific objects during the dump process.

Here's a general overview of the steps:

  • Use pg_dump to create a dump of the original database. This utility creates a script containing all the SQL statements required to recreate the schema and data in the new database.

  • Use pg_restore to restore the dump file into a new database. This recreates the schema and populates the tables with data from the original database.

Additional Considerations:

  • Terminating Connections: When copying a database, existing connections to the original database might interfere with the process. You can use the pg_terminate_backend command to terminate any active connections before creating the copy.
  • Permissions: Ensure you have the necessary permissions to create new databases and access the original database you want to copy.

By following these methods, you can create a complete copy of a PostgreSQL database, which can be useful for various purposes like testing, development, or creating backups.


-- Create a copy of a database named "source_db" with the name "target_db"

Using pg_dump and pg_restore:

a) Dumping the original database:

# Dump the database "source_db" to a file named "source_db.sql"
pg_dump -U postgres -d source_db > source_db.sql

# Explanation of flags:
# -U postgres: Username to connect to the database (replace with your username if different)
# -d source_db: Name of the database to dump
# > source_db.sql: Output file for the dump

b) Restoring the dump to create a new database:

# Create a new database named "target_db"
createdb target_db

# Restore the dump file "source_db.sql" into the new database
psql -U postgres -d target_db < source_db.sql

# Explanation of flags:
# -U postgres: Username to connect to the database (replace with your username if different)
# -d target_db: Name of the target database
# < source_db.sql: Input file for the restore

Note: Remember to replace postgres with your actual username if it's different.

Logical Replication:

This method involves setting up logical replication between the source and target databases. Logical replication allows you to continuously copy data modifications (inserts, updates, deletes) from the source database to the target database. This approach is ideal for scenarios where you need a near real-time copy of the database for tasks like reporting or analytics.

Setting up logical replication involves configuring replication slots, publications, and subscriptions on the PostgreSQL server. It's a more complex method compared to the previous ones, but offers benefits like minimal downtime and data consistency.

pg_basebackup (for physical backups):

This method is primarily used for creating physical backups of a database. However, it can also be used to create a copy of a database on the same server. pg_basebackup creates a consistent snapshot of the database files, allowing you to restore it to a new database or even another server.

This method is efficient for large databases as it copies the data files directly. However, keep in mind that this approach might not be suitable for creating a copy for development or testing purposes since it involves stopping the original database momentarily during the backup process.

Choosing the right method depends on your specific needs. Here's a quick guideline:

  • Use CREATE DATABASE for simple one-time copies with minimal configuration.
  • Use pg_dump and pg_restore for more flexibility and potential exclusion of specific objects during the copy process.
  • Use Logical Replication for near real-time copies suitable for reporting or analytics.
  • Use pg_basebackup for efficient physical backups that can also be used to create a copy on the same server (with some downtime).


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