PostgreSQL configuration

Sourcegraph Kubernetes cluster site admins can override the default PostgreSQL configuration by supplying their own postgresql.conf file contents. These are specified in pgsql.ConfigMap.yaml.

For Docker Compose deployment, site admins can also override the default PostgreSQL configuration by modifying the external configuration files at pgsql/conf/postgresql.conf, codeintel-db/conf/postgresql.conf, and codeinsights-db/conf/postgresql.conf. These files are mounted to the Postgres server during runtime (NOTE: This is only available in versions 3.39 and later).

There is no officially supported way of customizing the PostgreSQL configuration in the single Docker image.

Suggested configuration

Static configuration

We have found the following values to work well for our Cloud instance in practice. These settings are independent of the resources given to the database container and are recommended to use across the board.

Setting Default value Suggested value
bgwriter_delay 200ms 50ms
bgwriter_lru_maxpages 100 200
effective_io_concurrency 1 200
max_wal_size 1GB 8GB
min_wal_size 80MB 2GB
random_page_cost 4.0 1.1
temp_file_limit -1 20GB
wal_buffers -1 16MB

The suggested values for the effective_io_concurrency and random_page_cost settings assume SSD disks are in-use for the Postgres data volume (recommended). If you are instead using HDDs, these values should be set to 2 and 4 (the defaults), respectively. These values control the cost heuristic of fetching data from disk, and using the supplied configuration on spinning media will cause the query planner to fetch from disk much more aggressively than it should.

Resource-dependent configuration

The following settings are dependent on the number of CPUs and the amount of memory given to the database container, as well as the expected number maximum connections.

Setting Default value Suggested value Suggested maximum
effective_cache_size 4GB mem * 3 / 4
maintenance_work_mem 64MB mem / 16 2gb
max_connections 100 100 to start
max_parallel_maintenance_workers 2 # of CPUs
max_parallel_workers_per_gather 2 # of CPUs / 2 4
max_parallel_workers 8 # of CPUs
max_worker_processes 8 # of CPUs
shared_buffers 32MB mem / 4
work_mem 4MB mem / (4 * max_connections * max_parallel_workers_per_gather)


The setting effective_cache_size acts as a hint to Postgres on how to adjust its own I/O cache and does not require the configured amount of memory to be used. This value should reflect the amount of memory available to Postgres. This should be the amount of memory given to the container minus some slack for memory used by the kernel, I/O devices, and other daemons running in the same container.


The setting max_connections determines the number of active connections that can exist before new connections will start to be declined. This number is dependent on the replica factor of the containers that require a database connection. These containers include:

Service Connects to
frontend pgsql, codeintel-db, codeinsights-db
gitserver pgsql
repo-updater pgsql
precise-code-intel-worker codeintel-db, pgsql
worker codeintel-db, pgsql, codeinsights-db

Each of these containers open a pool of connections not exceeding the pool capacity indicated by the SRC_PGSQL_MAX_OPEN environment variable. The maximum number of connections for your instance can be determined by summing the connection pool capacity of every container in this list. By default, SRC_PGSQL_MAX_OPEN is 30. Note that these services do not all connect to the same database, and the frontend generates the majority of database connections

If your database is experiencing too many attempted connections from the above services you may see the following error:

UTC [333] FATAL:  sorry, too many clients already

This can be resolved by raising the max_connections value in your postgresql.conf or pgsql.ConfigMap.yaml. It may be necessary to raise your work_mem as well as more concurrent connections requires more memory to process. See the table above for an idea about this scaling relationship, and continue reading for more information about work_mem. Note: you may see a similar error pattern for codeintel-db or codeinsights-db, for these databases the resolution is the same.


The setting max_parallel_workers_per_gather controls how many additional workers to launch for operations such as parallel sequential scan. We see diminishing returns around four workers per query. Also notice that increasing this value will multiplicatively increase the amount of memory required for each worker to operate safely; doubling this value will effectively half the maximum number of connections. Most workloads should be perfectly fine with only two workers per query.

shared_buffers and work_mem

The settings shared_buffers and work_mem control how much memory is allocated to different parts of Postgres. The size of the shared buffers, which we recommend to set to 25% of the container's total memory, determines the size of the disk page cache that is usable by every worker (and, therefore, every query). The remaining free memory is allocated to workers such that the maximum number of concurrently executing workers will not exceed the remaining 75% (minus some proportional buffer) of the container's total memory.

A work_mem setting of 32MB has been sufficient for our Cloud environment as well as high-usage enterprise instances. Smaller instances and memory-constrained deployments may get away with a smaller value, but this is highly dependent on the set of features in use and their exact usage.

If you are seeing the database instance restarting due to a backend OOM condition or any Postgres logs similar to the following, it is likely that your work_mem setting is too low for your instance's query patterns. It's advised to raise the memory on the database container and re-adjust the settings above. If you cannot easily raise memory, you can alternatively lower max_connections or max_parallel_workers_per_gather to buy a bit of headroom with your current resources.

2021-04-26 10:11:12.123 UTC [33330] ERROR:  could not read block 1234 in file "base/123456789/123456789": Cannot allocate memory
2021-04-26 10:11:12.123 UTC [33330] ERROR:  could not read block 1234 in file "base/123456789/123456789": read only 1234 of 1234 bytes

Increasing shared memory in container environments

Postgres uses shared memory for some operations. By default, this value is set to 64M in most container environments. This value may be too small for larger systems.

If the error similar to: ERROR: could not resize shared memory segment "/PostgreSQL.491173048" to 4194304 bytes: No space left on device is observed, then shared memory should be increased.

This can be done by mounting a memory backed EmptyDir.

            - mountPath: /dev/shm
              name: dshm
        - name: pgsql-exporter
            - name: DATA_SOURCE_NAME
@@ -94,3 +96,7 @@ spec:
            defaultMode: 0777
            name: pgsql-conf
        - name: dshm
              medium: Memory
              sizeLimit: 8GB # this value depends on your postgres config

See this stackexchange post for tips on tuning this value