PostgreSQL Configuration Files

PostgreSQL is a powerful open-source relational database management system that offers a wide range of configuration options to optimize performance and customize the behavior of the database server. These configuration options are stored in various configuration files that control different aspects of the PostgreSQL server.

These are the main configuration files in a standard PostgreSQL installation. Always be cautious when modifying these files, as incorrect configurations can lead to issues with your PostgreSQL server. Always make backups before making changes and consult the official PostgreSQL documentation for detailed information on each configuration parameter.

1. postgresql.conf

The main configuration file for PostgreSQL is postgresql.conf. This file contains settings that apply to the entire PostgreSQL server instance. It is typically located in the data directory of the PostgreSQL installation.

Some of the important settings that can be configured in postgresql.conf include:

  • Location: The location of postgresql.conf depends on how PostgreSQL was installed, but it’s commonly found in the PostgreSQL data directory.
  • Purpose: This file contains a wide range of configuration settings that control the behavior of the PostgreSQL server. These settings include database connection parameters, resource allocation, logging, and many others.
  • Example Path:


  • listen_addresses: Specifies the IP addresses or hostnames on which the PostgreSQL server listens for incoming connections.
  • port: Specifies the TCP/IP port number on which the PostgreSQL server listens for connections.
  • max_connections: Specifies the maximum number of simultaneous connections allowed to the PostgreSQL server.
  • shared_buffers: Specifies the amount of memory allocated for the PostgreSQL server’s shared memory cache.
  • work_mem: Specifies the amount of memory allocated for each internal sort operation or hash table.
  • effective_cache_size: Specifies the estimated size of the operating system’s disk cache.

2. pg_hba.conf

The pg_hba.conf file controls client authentication for PostgreSQL. It determines which hosts are allowed to connect to the PostgreSQL server and which authentication methods are used for each connection.

Some of the authentication methods that can be configured in pg_hba.conf include:

  • Location: Like postgresql.conf, the location of pg_hba.conf depends on the installation. It is often found in the PostgreSQL data directory.
  • Purpose: This file controls client authentication to the PostgreSQL server. It defines the rules that determine which hosts are allowed to connect, what authentication methods should be used, and which databases and users they can access.
  • Example Path:


  • trust: Allows any connection without requiring a password.
  • md5: Requires the client to provide a password that is encrypted using MD5.
  • peer: Allows connections from local users with the same name as the PostgreSQL user.
  • ldap: Authenticates users against an LDAP server.
  • cert: Authenticates users using SSL certificates.

3. pg_ident.conf

The pg_ident.conf file maps PostgreSQL user names to system user names. It is used for authentication when the ident authentication method is used in pg_hba.conf.

For example, if a PostgreSQL user named “myuser” wants to connect to the database server using the ident authentication method, the pg_ident.conf file can be used to map “myuser” to a system user name such as “postgres”.

  • Location: Similar to the previous files, the location depends on the installation.
  • Purpose: This file allows the mapping of external user names to database user names. It is used for authentication and can be useful in scenarios where different authentication methods are needed for different operating system users.
  • Example Path:



The file is automatically generated by PostgreSQL and contains settings that have been modified using the ALTER SYSTEM command. These settings override the values specified in postgresql.conf and are automatically loaded when the PostgreSQL server starts.

This file is useful for making dynamic configuration changes without manually editing postgresql.conf.

  • Location: This file is typically found in the PostgreSQL data directory.
  • Purpose: It is used for runtime configuration changes. The settings in override those in postgresql.conf. Changes to this file are managed automatically by the PostgreSQL server and tools like ALTER SYSTEM.
  • Example Path:


5. recovery.conf

The recovery.conf file is used for configuring replication and high availability in PostgreSQL. It is used on standby servers to specify the primary server to replicate from and other replication settings.

Some of the settings that can be configured in recovery.conf include:


The recovery.conf file in PostgreSQL is indeed used for configuring replication and high availability on standby servers. It is employed when setting up a streaming replication or warm standby server. Below are some key settings that can be configured in the recovery.conf file:

  1. standby_mode:
    • Purpose: Specifies whether the server should act as a standby server.
    • Values:
      • on: The server will act as a standby.
      • off (default): The server operates as a regular PostgreSQL instance.


  1. primary_conninfo:
    • Purpose: Specifies the connection parameters for the primary (master) server.
    • Values: Connection string specifying details such as host, port, database, user, and password for connecting to the primary server.


  1. trigger_file:
    • Purpose: Specifies a file that, when created, triggers a failover to the standby server.
    • Values: A file path.


  1. Other settings:
    • restore_command: Specifies the command to use to fetch archived WAL (Write-Ahead Log) segments from the primary server when they are not available locally.
    • recovery_target_timeline: Specifies the timeline ID or ‘latest’ for recovery target selection.
    • recovery_target_time: Specifies a timestamp up to which point recovery should proceed.
    • recovery_target_xid and recovery_target_lsn: Specifies the transaction ID or LSN (Log Sequence Number) up to which point recovery should proceed.

Here is a minimal example of a recovery.conf file:

Remember to adjust the values according to your specific setup. This file is crucial in setting up replication scenarios, and its configuration may vary depending on your PostgreSQL version and replication method (e.g., streaming replication, logical replication). Always refer to the PostgreSQL documentation relevant to your version for the most accurate and detailed information.

Understanding and correctly configuring these PostgreSQL configuration files is essential for optimizing performance, ensuring security, and customizing the behavior of your PostgreSQL database server.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *