Migrate your PostgreSQL database by using dump and restore

APPLIES TO: Azure Database for PostgreSQL - Single Server Azure Database for PostgreSQL - Flexible Server

You can use pg_dump to extract a PostgreSQL database into a dump file. Then use pg_restore to restore the PostgreSQL database from an archive file created by pg_dump.


To step through this how-to guide, you need:

Create a dump file that contains the data to be loaded

To back up an existing PostgreSQL database on-premises or in a VM, run the following command:

pg_dump -Fc -v --host=<host> --username=<name> --dbname=<database name> -f <database>.dump

For example, if you have a local server and a database called testdb in it, run:

pg_dump -Fc -v --host=localhost --username=masterlogin --dbname=testdb -f testdb.dump

Restore the data into the target database

After you've created the target database, you can use the pg_restore command and the --dbname parameter to restore the data into the target database from the dump file.

pg_restore -v --no-owner --host=<server name> --port=<port> --username=<user-name> --dbname=<target database name> <database>.dump

Including the --no-owner parameter causes all objects created during the restore to be owned by the user specified with --username. For more information, see the PostgreSQL documentation.


On Azure Database for PostgreSQL servers, TLS/SSL connections are on by default. If your PostgreSQL server requires TLS/SSL connections, but doesn't have them, set an environment variable PGSSLMODE=require so that the pg_restore tool connects with TLS. Without TLS, the error might read: "FATAL: SSL connection is required. Please specify SSL options and retry." In the Windows command line, run the command SET PGSSLMODE=require before running the pg_restore command. In Linux or Bash, run the command export PGSSLMODE=require before running the pg_restore command.

In this example, restore the data from the dump file testdb.dump into the database mypgsqldb, on target server mydemoserver.postgres.database.azure.com.

Here's an example for how to use this pg_restore for Single Server:

pg_restore -v --no-owner --host=mydemoserver.postgres.database.azure.com --port=5432 --username=mylogin@mydemoserver --dbname=mypgsqldb testdb.dump

Here's an example for how to use this pg_restore for Flexible Server:

pg_restore -v --no-owner --host=mydemoserver.postgres.database.azure.com --port=5432 --username=mylogin --dbname=mypgsqldb testdb.dump

Optimize the migration process

One way to migrate your existing PostgreSQL database to Azure Database for PostgreSQL is to back up the database on the source and restore it in Azure. To minimize the time required to complete the migration, consider using the following parameters with the backup and restore commands.


For detailed syntax information, see pg_dump and pg_restore.

For the backup

Take the backup with the -Fc switch, so that you can perform the restore in parallel to speed it up. For example:

pg_dump -h my-source-server-name -U source-server-username -Fc -d source-databasename -f Z:\Data\Backups\my-database-backup.dump

For the restore

  • Move the backup file to an Azure VM in the same region as the Azure Database for PostgreSQL server you are migrating to. Perform the pg_restore from that VM to reduce network latency. Create the VM with accelerated networking enabled.

  • Open the dump file to verify that the create index statements are after the insert of the data. If it isn't the case, move the create index statements after the data is inserted. This should already be done by default, but it's a good idea to confirm.

  • Restore with the -j N switch (where N represents the number) to parallelize the restore. The number you specify is the number of cores on the target server. You can also set to twice the number of cores of the target server to see the impact.

    Here's an example for how to use this pg_restore for Single Server:

     pg_restore -h my-target-server.postgres.database.azure.com -U azure-postgres-username@my-target-server -j 4 -d my-target-databasename Z:\Data\Backups\my-database-backup.dump

    Here's an example for how to use this pg_restore for Flexible Server:

     pg_restore -h my-target-server.postgres.database.azure.com -U azure-postgres-username -j 4 -d my-target-databasename Z:\Data\Backups\my-database-backup.dump
  • You can also edit the dump file by adding the command set synchronous_commit = off; at the beginning, and the command set synchronous_commit = on; at the end. Not turning it on at the end, before the apps change the data, might result in subsequent loss of data.

  • On the target Azure Database for PostgreSQL server, consider doing the following before the restore:

    • Turn off query performance tracking. These statistics aren't needed during the migration. You can do this by setting pg_stat_statements.track, pg_qs.query_capture_mode, and pgms_wait_sampling.query_capture_mode to NONE.

    • Use a high compute and high memory SKU, like 32 vCore Memory Optimized, to speed up the migration. You can easily scale back down to your preferred SKU after the restore is complete. The higher the SKU, the more parallelism you can achieve by increasing the corresponding -j parameter in the pg_restore command.

    • More IOPS on the target server might improve the restore performance. You can provision more IOPS by increasing the server's storage size. This setting isn't reversible, but consider whether a higher IOPS would benefit your actual workload in the future.

Remember to test and validate these commands in a test environment before you use them in production.

Next steps