Streamlining Logical Replication with pg_recvlogical

What is pg_recvlogical?

pg_recvlogical is a command-line tool that is part of the PostgreSQL suite, used for managing logical replication slots and streaming data changes from them. Logical replication involves replicating changes to a database schema or a subset of data to another PostgreSQL database, rather than replicating the entire database as in physical replication.

How pg_recvlogical Works

The tool connects to a PostgreSQL database, creates replication slots, and manages the streaming of WAL changes. This allows for more granular replication than physical replication, which is useful for use cases like replicating data to different versions of PostgreSQL, or to external systems.

Using pg_recvlogical for Logical Replication

Before using pg_recvlogical, ensure that logical replication is enabled in the PostgreSQL configuration by setting wal_level to logical.

Creating a Replication Slot

pg_recvlogical -h mydbhost -U myuser -d mydb --slot my_slot --create-slot

This command creates a new replication slot named my_slot on the database mydb.

Starting the Streaming of WAL Changes

pg_recvlogical -h mydbhost -U myuser -d mydb --slot my_slot --start -o pretty-print=1 -f -

This command starts streaming changes from the my_slot replication slot, with the output formatted for readability (pretty-print=1) and streamed to stdout (-f -).

Use Cases for pg_recvlogical

  • Selective Data Replication: Replicate specific tables or rows to another PostgreSQL database, which is useful for creating reporting or analytical databases that don’t require the entire production dataset.
  • Cross-Version Upgrades: Migrate data from an older PostgreSQL server to a newer one, which can be helpful for upgrades that need minimal downtime.
  • Integrating with External Systems: Stream database changes to external systems or applications, such as search indexes, caches, or data warehouses.

Common Mistakes and Issues

  • Incorrect Configuration: Not setting the wal_level to logical or not granting the necessary permissions to the replication user can prevent pg_recvlogical from functioning.
  • Slot Management: Failing to properly manage replication slots can lead to unbounded disk space usage as WAL segments are retained indefinitely. Ensure that slots are consumed by a consumer or dropped when no longer needed.
  • Network Connectivity: Issues with network connectivity between the source and target systems can interrupt the logical replication stream. Ensure reliable network infrastructure.

Troubleshooting Errors

  • Authentication Failures: If pg_recvlogical cannot connect to the database, verify that the user has replication privileges and that the pg_hba.conf file allows replication connections.
  • Replication Slot Issues: If you encounter errors related to creating or using replication slots, check if the slot already exists or if there’s a conflict with slot names.
  • Output Write Failures: If specifying a file for output and pg_recvlogical cannot write to it, check file permissions and disk space.


pg_recvlogical is a versatile tool that plays a crucial role in PostgreSQL’s logical replication capabilities. It provides a way to stream data changes according to specific needs, enabling more complex replication scenarios than standard physical replication. With careful configuration and management, pg_recvlogical can be a key component in achieving high availability, scaling read operations, and integrating PostgreSQL with other parts of your data infrastructure.

For detailed usage instructions and options for pg_recvlogical, you can refer to the official PostgreSQL documentation.

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