Postgres Monitoring - ManageEngine Applications Manager

Before diving into how to ensure the reliability, availability, and optimal performance of your PostgreSQL database, it’s essential to understand the necessity of constant vigilance for its maintenance. This vigilance forms the backbone of a healthy PostgreSQL database.

So, how exactly can you achieve this? The answer lies in comprehensive Postgres monitoring. This blog explores how you can optimally monitor Postgres database metrics along with the best practices organizations can implement to set themselves up for success.

How to monitor key Postgres database performance monitoring metrics

To keep your PostgreSQL database operating in a well-coordinated and efficient manner, you must monitor several key metrics. These metrics may be determined by the needs of your application and your PostgreSQL database configuration. However, here are some common items that you should monitor regularly:

Postgres Performance Monitoring - ManageEngine Applications Manager

1. Transaction and query details

When it comes to Postgres monitoring, tracking transaction details in a PostgreSQL database is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, transactions can directly impact database performance. Tracking execution times and resource usage helps identify slow or long-running transactions that might be causing performance bottlenecks. Furthermore, monitoring transaction details allows you to pinpoint the root cause of slowdowns and ensure data integrity, especially when dealing with a high volume of transactions.

If your application experiences lag due to a large number of transactions, here’s a breakdown of how to effectively monitor, analyze, and optimize your Postgres database:

  • Monitor the number of transactions processed per unit time (commits and rollbacks): A sudden increase or sustained high volume can indicate overloaded systems struggling to handle the transaction load. A significant rise in commits might suggest a burst of activity or potential data integrity issues leading to frequent updates. An increase in rollbacks could indicate errors or failed transactions during data modifications, which could be caused by insufficient permissions, invalid data attempts, or logical errors in application code.

  • Analyze long-running transactions and pinpoint specific ones that are significantly contributing to slowdowns: If you experience high wait times, analyze query-locking behavior to identify potential conflicts that might be causing transactions to wait excessively for access to resources. Additionally, review the application code that interacts with the database to ensure efficient transaction management practices. Based on your analysis, implement the following optimization strategies to improve performance:

a) Optimize queries: If slow queries are the culprit, optimize them by creating appropriate indexes, rewriting inefficient code, or adjusting query parameters.

b) Adjust connection pooling: Configure connection pooling effectively to avoid creating excessive connections. A large number of connections can lead to higher transaction volume and resource contention.

c) Horizontal scaling: If resource limitations are causing the slowdown, consider scaling your database horizontally by adding more servers to distribute the transaction load.

2. Session details

Sessions represent individual connections established by users or applications to interact with the database. By tracking details like active sessions, blocked sessions, and wait events, you can identify bottlenecks that are impacting performance.

While PostgreSQL monitoring offers valuable insights, there are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Data volume: Monitoring all session details in real time for a large database can be overwhelming. To avoid information overload, consider focusing on specific metrics like long-running transactions (over one minute) or sessions exceeding resource thresholds.

  • Security: Session details might contain sensitive information like usernames or queries being executed. Implement proper access controls and anonymize data when necessary to maintain security while gaining valuable insights.

  • Integration with other metrics: For a more holistic view, correlate session data with application metrics like user activity. Utilize Postgres monitoring tools that offer combined views of various database and application performance metrics.

3. Connection statistics

Postgres monitoring tool - ManageEngine Applications Manager

Monitoring connections in your PostgreSQL database is essential for effectively managing resource utilization and tuning the performance of your deployment. Every connection to the database utilizes resources such as CPU, memory, and network bandwidth. Once created, these connections can perform various operations that can lead to change in states: active, idle, idle in transaction, and idle in transaction (aborted). Tracking these states will help you:

  • Identify potential resource issues: A consistently high number of active connections compared to your typical usage might indicate insufficient resources or connection pool limitations. To prevent excessive consumption, you can limit them using the max_connections setting.

  • Investigate idle connections: A large number of waiting connections suggests your connection pool might be too small. You might need to adjust the pool size to accommodate peak user activity.

  • Detect connection leaks: If the total number of connections keeps increasing steadily over time, it could indicate connection leaks in your application code. Analyze connection usage patterns to identify and fix leaks.

To ensure that you have control over the connections, you can follow two strategies to set up alerts based on DB connection counts:

  • Alerts for sudden spikes in connections: Establish the typical range of connection counts observed under normal operating conditions during the day. If the maximum number of connections to your database is set at a limit of 115 (with 15 reserved for the superuser and 100 for your applications), you can set a threshold of 50 or 100 over your daily maximum as a good starting point. You can consider using monitoring tools that offer dynamic thresholds, which can periodically adjust values based on your historical usage patterns.
  • Alerts when connections approach their limits: This strategy focuses on alerting you before reaching the maximum connection limit imposed by your database plan. This helps prevent connection failures that could disrupt the user experience.

4. Lock and buffer statistics

In PostgreSQL, locks play a critical role in maintaining data consistency during concurrent queries. However, excessive locking or deadlocks can lead to slowdowns in the database. By querying lock tables, you can gain insights into active locks, locked objects, and waiting processes. It’s important to monitor lock duration as well, as this helps in optimizing queries, preventing contention, and ensuring efficient resource utilization.

Additionally, tracking the distribution of lock modes in your Postgres database is crucial for consistent data access. Stricter modes like ACCESS EXCLUSIVE can potentially limit data modifiability, highlighting possible bottlenecks. A high occurrence of these modes may indicate active connections due to long-running queries, risking query timeouts. Prioritizing the monitoring of stricter lock modes allows for proactive addressing of performance issues, ensuring smooth data access in your PostgreSQL environment.

Another crucial metric for optimal performance is the Postgres buffer cache. This cache stores frequently accessed data in memory, significantly reducing slower disk access. Ideally, you want a high buffer hit ratio, which represents the data retrieved from the cache compared to disk reads (buffer misses).

A ratio consistently below 80% might suggest the cache is undersized or data access patterns have changed. In such cases, consider either increasing the shared_buffers parameter to allocate more memory for the cache or analyzing queries causing excessive disk access to improve their efficiency. While views like pg_stat_user_tables offer detailed buffer cache information, it can be overwhelming, instead its better to go for a PostgreSQL monitoring tool that can provide aggregated buffer cache metrics.

5. Index- and table-level scan details

Indexes play a crucial role in improving query performance by enabling rapid data retrieval. Monitoring index scans is essential to determine if queries are making effective use of these indexes. A higher number of index scans compared to sequential scans often indicates efficient query execution. However, there are instances when created indexes may not be actively utilized by queries.

If your database consistently shows a higher rate of sequential scans, consider optimizing its performance by creating indexes on frequently accessed data. In situations where suitable indexes are unavailable for query conditions, you need table and sequential scans. Identifying and dropping underutilized indexes can help streamline storage management without sacrificing performance.

Effective Postgres monitoring involves regular analysis of statistics and query performance, comparing current data with historical trends, and periodically optimizing index usage while addressing sequential scans. This comprehensive approach ensures a well-optimized PostgreSQL database environment with efficient query execution and minimized resource utilization.

6. Replication metrics

PostgreSQL utilizes Write-Ahead Logging (WAL) for replication, ensuring data persistence even if the primary server fails. Transactions are first written to the WAL, and then this WAL is transmitted to standby servers for data synchronization.

Monitoring replication details is crucial for this process. It helps ensure replication health by identifying potential issues like delays or failures, optimize performance by analyzing data transfer rates, and ultimately prevent data loss by guaranteeing standby servers are up to date during disaster recovery.

Replication can be achieved in three ways: streaming, cascading, and synchronous. You can choose the method that best suits your needs, considering factors like scalability, offloading primary server load, and data consistency requirements.

For example, streaming replication offers high availability but with potential lag, while synchronous replication guarantees consistency but impacts performance. Consider your recovery point objective (RPO), or the acceptable data loss, and your recovery time objective (RTO), or acceptable downtime, when making your choice. However, effective replication monitoring goes beyond the setup. You need to track two key metrics: replication delay and checkpoint requests.

Top 3 Postgres monitoring best practices

Postgresql performance monitor - ManageEngine Applications Manager

While it is important to be aware of the key metrics to understand Postgres performance, it is also important to know some best practices in Postgres monitoring to implement the monitoring strategy effectively. Here are the top three practices that we recommend based on our interactions with Postgres administrators:

1. Establish baselines for Postgres performance

Building a strong foundation for monitoring starts with establishing performance baselines. This process involves measuring key metrics like execution times, connection counts, transaction rates, resource utilization, database size, etc. under normal workloads. Maintaining a detailed record of the baseline values will help identify deviations and abnormal behaviors.

2. Regular audits in performance tuning

Postgres performance tuning is an ongoing process. Regularly scheduled audits involve delving deeper into specific areas identified through monitoring. This includes analyzing slow query logs to identify optimization opportunities, assessing resource utilization to pinpoint bottlenecks, or reviewing if the database settings are tuned to current operational requirements. These audits will help maintain optimal performance and prevent issues from snowballing.

3. Automate alerts

Defining performance thresholds will enable you to get notified when patterns deviate from the normal. However, it is crucial that you consider implementing dynamic thresholds over static ones, as they adjust based on varying conditions and reduce false alarms. Link these thresholds with your alerting systems so that notifications are triggered when thresholds are breached. Ensure that your Postgres performance monitoring tool notifies you promptly across the channels of your choice: Slack, email, SMS, and more.

Proactively monitor your PostgreSQL database with Applications Manager

While understanding key metrics and best practices are essential for PostgreSQL performance monitoring, translating that knowledge into actionable insights requires a robust monitoring solution. Applications Manager acts as a comprehensive solution for Postgres database monitoring. It also helps monitor other popular databases such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL, and MongoDB offering real-time insights into key performance metrics, resource utilization, availability, and more. To learn how our product can help you, download a free, 30-day trial or schedule a personalized demo with an experts today!
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