Question: How can PostgreSQL be auto-scaled?


Auto-scaling in PostgreSQL refers to the process of automatically adjusting the number of computing resources (like CPU, memory, and storage) allocated to a PostgreSQL database based on its load or demand. This is crucial for maintaining optimal performance and cost-efficiency, especially in cloud environments.

Horizontal vs. Vertical Scaling

  • Horizontal scaling (scaling out/in): Involves adding or removing instances (servers) to balance the load. It's suitable for read-heavy workloads since you can distribute read queries across multiple replicas.
  • Vertical scaling (scaling up/down): Entails increasing or decreasing the resources (CPU, RAM) within an existing instance. This is easier to implement but has physical limits.

Implementing Auto-scaling in PostgreSQL

Cloud Solutions

Most cloud providers offer some form of auto-scaling:

  • AWS RDS: Uses Read Replicas for horizontal scaling and allows vertical scaling by changing the instance type.
  • Google Cloud SQL: Provides automatic storage increase and supports high availability configurations for scaling.
  • Azure Database for PostgreSQL: Offers scale out options with Hyperscale (Citus) for horizontal scaling and straightforward vertical scaling options.

DIY Approaches

For self-hosted environments or when more control is needed, you can implement auto-scaling using custom scripts or third-party tools:

  1. Horizontal Scaling: Use streaming replication to set up read replicas. Monitor the load on your primary server, and automate the creation/removal of replicas based on specific metrics (like CPU usage, connection counts).

  2. Vertical Scaling: Although harder to do without downtime, automation tools can help resize VMs or hardware specifications based on performance metrics. Some orchestration tools like Kubernetes can aid in automating this process for containerized PostgreSQL instances.

Code Example for Monitoring

Here's a simple bash script snippet for monitoring CPU utilization and triggering a scaling action (hypothetical):

#!/bin/bash CPU_THRESHOLD=80 current_cpu=$(top -bn1 | grep 'Cpu(s)' | sed 's/.*, *\([0-9.]*\)%* id.*/\1/' | awk '{print 100 - $1}') if [[ $(echo \"$current_cpu > $CPU_THRESHOLD\" | bc) -eq 1 ]]; then echo \"CPU threshold exceeded, initiating scaling...\" # Insert your scaling command here fi

This script checks if the CPU usage exceeds 80% and could be used as part of a larger auto-scaling solution.


Auto-scaling PostgreSQL requires understanding your workload patterns and choosing the right strategy between horizontal and vertical scaling. Cloud solutions offer built-in options, but with DIY approaches, you gain flexibility at the cost of complexity.

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