Managing PostgreSQL partitions with the pg_partman extension - Amazon Relational Database Service
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Managing PostgreSQL partitions with the pg_partman extension

PostgreSQL table partitioning provides a framework for high-performance handling of data input and reporting. Use partitioning for databases that require very fast input of large amounts of data. Partitioning also provides for faster queries of large tables. Partitioning helps maintain data without impacting the database instance because it requires less I/O resources.

By using partitioning, you can split data into custom-sized chunks for processing. For example, you can partition time-series data for ranges such as hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, custom, or any combination of these. For a time-series data example, if you partition the table by hour, each partition contains one hour of data. If you partition the time-series table by day, the partitions holds one day's worth of data, and so on. The partition key controls the size of a partition.

When you use an INSERT or UPDATE SQL command on a partitioned table, the database engine routes the data to the appropriate partition. PostgreSQL table partitions that store the data are child tables of the main table.

During database query reads, the PostgreSQL optimizer examines the WHERE clause of the query and, if possible, directs the database scan to only the relevant partitions.

Starting with version 10, PostgreSQL uses declarative partitioning to implement table partitioning. This is also known as native PostgreSQL partitioning. Before PostgreSQL version 10, you used triggers to implement partitions.

PostgreSQL table partitioning provides the following features:

  • Creation of new partitions at any time.

  • Variable partition ranges.

  • Detachable and reattachable partitions using data definition language (DDL) statements.

    For example, detachable partitions are useful for removing historical data from the main partition but keeping historical data for analysis.

  • New partitions inherit the parent database table properties, including the following:

    • Indexes

    • Primary keys, which must include the partition key column

    • Foreign keys

    • Check constraints

    • References

  • Creating indexes for the full table or each specific partition.

You can't alter the schema for an individual partition. However, you can alter the parent table (such as adding a new column), which propagates to partitions.

Overview of the PostgreSQL pg_partman extension

You can use the PostgreSQL pg_partman extension to automate the creation and maintenance of table partitions. For more general information, see PG Partition Manager in the pg_partman documentation.


The pg_partman extension is supported on RDS for PostgreSQL versions 12.5 and higher.

Instead of having to manually create each partition, you configure pg_partman with the following settings:

  • Table to be partitioned

  • Partition type

  • Partition key

  • Partition granularity

  • Partition precreation and management options

After you create a PostgreSQL partitioned table, you register it with pg_partman by calling the create_parent function. Doing this creates the necessary partitions based on the parameters you pass to the function.

The pg_partman extension also provides the run_maintenance_proc function, which you can call on a scheduled basis to automatically manage partitions. To ensure that the proper partitions are created as needed, schedule this function to run periodically (such as hourly). You can also ensure that partitions are automatically dropped.

Enabling the pg_partman extension

If you have multiple databases inside the same PostgreSQL DB instance for which you want to manage partitions, enable the pg_partman extension separately for each database. To enable the pg_partman extension for a specific database, create the partition maintenance schema and then create the pg_partman extension as follows.


To create the pg_partman extension, make sure that you have rds_superuser privileges.

If you receive an error such as the following, grant the rds_superuser privileges to the account or use your superuser account.

ERROR: permission denied to create extension "pg_partman" HINT: Must be superuser to create this extension.

To grant rds_superuser privileges, connect with your superuser account and run the following command.

GRANT rds_superuser TO user-or-role;

For the examples that show using the pg_partman extension, we use the following sample database table and partition. This database uses a partitioned table based on a timestamp. A schema data_mart contains a table named events with a column named created_at. The following settings are included in the events table:

  • Primary keys event_id and created_at, which must have the column used to guide the partition.

  • A check constraint ck_valid_operation to enforce values for an operation table column.

  • Two foreign keys, where one (fk_orga_membership) points to the external table organization and the other (fk_parent_event_id) is a self-referenced foreign key.

  • Two indexes, where one (idx_org_id) is for the foreign key and the other (idx_event_type) is for the event type.

The following DDL statements create these objects, which are automatically included on each partition.

CREATE SCHEMA data_mart; CREATE TABLE data_mart.organization ( org_id BIGSERIAL, org_name TEXT, CONSTRAINT pk_organization PRIMARY KEY (org_id) ); CREATE TABLE event_id BIGSERIAL, operation CHAR(1), value FLOAT(24), parent_event_id BIGINT, event_type VARCHAR(25), org_id BIGSERIAL, created_at timestamp, CONSTRAINT pk_data_mart_event PRIMARY KEY (event_id, created_at), CONSTRAINT ck_valid_operation CHECK (operation = 'C' OR operation = 'D'), CONSTRAINT fk_orga_membership FOREIGN KEY(org_id) REFERENCES data_mart.organization (org_id), CONSTRAINT fk_parent_event_id FOREIGN KEY(parent_event_id, created_at) REFERENCES (event_id,created_at) ) PARTITION BY RANGE (created_at); CREATE INDEX idx_org_id ON; CREATE INDEX idx_event_type ON;

Configuring partitions using the create_parent function

After you enable the pg_partman extension, use the create_parent function to configure partitions inside the partition maintenance schema. The following example uses the events table example created in Enabling the pg_partman extension. Call the create_parent function as follows.

SELECT partman.create_parent( p_parent_table => '', p_control => 'created_at', p_type => 'native', p_interval=> 'daily', p_premake => 30);

The parameters are as follows:

  • p_parent_table – The parent partitioned table. This table must already exist and be fully qualified, including the schema.

  • p_control – The column on which the partitioning is to be based. The data type must be an integer or time-based.

  • p_type – The type is either 'native' or 'partman'. You typically use the native type for its performance improvements and flexibility. The partman type relies on inheritance.

  • p_interval – The time interval or integer range for each partition. Example values include daily, hourly, and so on.

  • p_premake – The number of partitions to create in advance to support new inserts.

For a complete description of the create_parent function, see Creation Functions in the pg_partman documentation.

Configuring partition maintenance using the run_maintenance_proc function

You can run partition maintenance operations to automatically create new partitions, detach partitions, or remove old partitions. Partition maintenance relies on the run_maintenance_proc function of the pg_partman extension and the pg_cron extension, which initiates an internal scheduler. The pg_cron scheduler automatically executes SQL statements, functions, and procedures defined in your databases.

The following example uses the events table example created in Enabling the pg_partman extension to set partition maintenance operations to run automatically. As a prerequisite, add pg_cron to the shared_preload_libraries parameter in the DB instance's parameter group.

CREATE EXTENSION pg_cron; UPDATE partman.part_config SET infinite_time_partitions = true, retention = '3 months', retention_keep_table=true WHERE parent_table = ''; SELECT cron.schedule('@hourly', $$CALL partman.run_maintenance_proc()$$);

Following, you can find a step-by-step explanation of the preceding example:

  1. Modify the parameter group associated with your DB instance and add pg_cron to the shared_preload_libraries parameter value. This change requires a DB instance restart for it to take effect. For more information, see Modifying parameters in a DB parameter group.

  2. Run the command CREATE EXTENSION pg_cron; using an account that has the rds_superuser permissions. Doing this enables the pg_cron extension. For more information, see Scheduling maintenance with the PostgreSQL pg_cron extension.

  3. Run the command UPDATE partman.part_config to adjust the pg_partman settings for the table.

  4. Run the command SET . . . to configure the table, with these clauses:

    1. infinite_time_partitions = true, – Configures the table to be able to automatically create new partitions without any limit.

    2. retention = '3 months', – Configures the table to have a maximum retention of three months.

    3. retention_keep_table=true – Configures the table so that when the retention period is due, the table isn't deleted automatically. Instead, partitions that are older than the retention period are only detached from the parent table.

  5. Run the command SELECT cron.schedule . . . to make a pg_cron function call. This call defines how often the scheduler runs the pg_partman maintenance procedure, partman.run_maintenance_proc. For this example, the procedure runs every hour.

For a complete description of the run_maintenance_proc function, see Maintenance Functions in the pg_partman documentation.