PG Backups Levels Up

Performing a backup is one of those tasks that ensures your application can recover from database or hardware failures should they ever occur. Over four year ago, we recognized this as a best practice and came out with PGBackups, an add-on that reduces the risk and complexity of taking database backups. Today, we’re pleased to announce two big improvements: enhanced reliability, and the ability to schedule backups.

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Faster Database forking

Did you know that Heroku databases can be forked? Forking a database creates a byte-for-byte copy that can be used for testing and development. It is a useful tool that allows teams to be agile with their data.

Today, forking databases is becoming faster. Fast forking reduces the time to create a fork by hours for high transaction database. To quickly fork a database, simply add the --fast flag:

$ heroku addons:add heroku-postgresql:crane --fork BLUE --fast

Fast forks behave differently from regular forks. They take less time to create, but the data will be somewhat out-of-date (as much as 30 hours). If your data has not changed significantly and you have not performed any schema migrations in the last 30 hours, then fast forks are a speedy alternative to regular ones.

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Heroku Postgres Followers Patched

On November 18th, a replication bug was found in Postgres that affected the most recent versions of every Postgres release. The corruption that this bug may introduce could go undetected, and it manifests itself as a follower potentially having an inconsistent view of the data. For example, data could be present in the primary and not on the follower, or data deleted or updated on the primary and not from the follower. The likelihood of triggering this bug is higher for write-heavy workloads, such as many OLTP applications seen at Heroku.

We always recommend placing applications in maintenance mode and scaling down workers when performing a follower based changeover, and following this procedure largely decreases the chances of corruption introduced by this bug.

At Heroku Postgres we recognize the importance of data integrity and consistency in your databases: As of now there are no Heroku Postgres databases vulnerable to this corruption bug. Even though new versions of Postgres have not been released yet and are scheduled to ship early December, a patch was made available to the Postgres community on all git branches for affected versions. We have back-ported this patch to all of our supported Postgres versions, and all affected instances have been replaced. As this bug only impacts followers, no primary databases were at risk and no primary databases required the patch.

If you were worried about this bug affecting your Heroku Postgres database, worry no longer: just sit back and enjoy your healthy followers.

Connection Limit Guidance

Many of our customers have recently asked about our connection limit settings on our new Heroku Postgres tiers. Previously we allowed for 500 connections across all production databases, however now there is some variance in the number of connections allowed with only the larger plans offering 500. In individual conversations with customers we’ve detailed the reasoning behind this, and feel its worth sharing this more broadly here now.

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Welcome to the Community

At Heroku we have long considered PostgreSQL to be a powerful and reliable open-source database for keeping data safe and accessible for serious applications with demanding workflows and use cases.

Over the years we’ve invested heavily in continuing to improve it, whether it’s by employing Postgres major contibutors, employing driver maintainers, funding core development, or being part of language communites such as Ruby and Python to help spread the good news that is Postgres. It’s that interaction with the developer and database communities that help us inform and influence the future of Postgres.

This work over the years has continued to advance Postgres to be a better database for all and even expand it beyond its relational roots. It's been a great database for us to build our offering on and has enabled us to continue to add further value such as our new operational expertise that's built right in or dataclips. It’s both this great database as well as the additional value that’s allowed us to see the great growth we’ve seen today, now running a fleet of over 750,000 Postgres databases.

All PostgreSQL users, hackers and service providers reap the benefits of any and all improvements to the project. It’s with that in mind that we welcome Amazon to this community and look forward to their contributions and collaboration to help further the PostgreSQL project.

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