Question: How to scale PostgreSQL?


Scaling PostgreSQL can be approached in two ways: vertically by adding more power (CPU, RAM) to your existing server (scale-up), or horizontally by adding more servers to divide the load (scale-out).

Vertical Scaling (Scale-Up)

Vertical scaling is the simplest form of scaling a database. It involves upgrading the existing hardware of your server to accommodate larger loads. This might mean upgrading the CPU, increasing the RAM, or adding more storage capacity. Vertical scaling has its limits; there's only so much you can upgrade before you hit the physical or financial ceiling.

Horizontal Scaling (Scale-Out)

Horizontal scaling, on the other hand, involves adding more servers to distribute the workload and increase the database's ability to handle read and write operations. There are several approaches to horizontal scaling in PostgreSQL:

Read Replicas

Implementing read replicas is one of the most common methods for scaling PostgreSQL. This involves replicating data from a primary server to one or more secondary servers. The secondary servers can then handle all read queries, while the primary server handles all writes and updates. This can significantly improve read performance.

-- Setting up a replica is an administrative task that involves configuring replication settings in postgresql.conf and pg_hba.conf files.

Connection Pooling

Connection pooling is another technique that can help scale PostgreSQL. It involves using a pooler to manage and reuse database connections. This reduces the overhead associated with opening and closing connections and can help improve the performance of your application.


Sharding involves splitting a database into smaller, more manageable pieces, called shards. Each shard holds a portion of the data, and collectively, the shards make up the entire database. Sharding can be complex to implement and manage but is effective for distributing the workload across multiple servers.


PostgreSQL supports table partitioning, which divides a large table into smaller, more manageable pieces. Partitioning can improve query performance and maintenance tasks on large tables.

-- Example of range partitioning CREATE TABLE measurement ( city_id int not null, logdate date not null, peaktemp int, unitsales int ) PARTITION BY RANGE (logdate);

Use of Extensions

Some PostgreSQL extensions can help with scaling, such as pgpool for connection pooling and load balancing, Citus for sharding, and TimescaleDB for time-series data.


Choosing the right scaling strategy depends on your specific needs, the nature of your workload, and your resources. For many applications, a combination of these strategies provides the best balance between cost, complexity, and performance.

Was this content helpful?

White Paper

Free System Design on AWS E-Book

Download this early release of O'Reilly's latest cloud infrastructure e-book: System Design on AWS.

Free System Design on AWS E-Book
Start building today

Dragonfly is fully compatible with the Redis ecosystem and requires no code changes to implement.