Setting up Postgres Automated Failover

Nowadays, failover is one of the simplest procedures in postgres. Still, there are not many ways to automate this procedure and perform it without any human interference. This blog post will guide you through a way to implement automated failover by using two open source projects, repmgr2 and pgbouncer.

PGbouncer will act like a connection pool and as an entry point to the database cluster.
Repmgr now, (since version 2) supports automatic failover, the slave will try to connect to the master for a predefined time and number of attempts, if it fails, it will run a script that can be anything. We are going to use this functionality to perform auto-failover, redirect our application connections to the new master database, and notify the dba that a failover has been performed.

Each server will have its own copy of pgbouncer configuration file(s) and when a server is being promoted, the new master also has the responsibility to overwrite the configuration file on the server that pgbouncer runs (

In my example I used:
3 nodes (3 debian net install virtual machines)
$PGDATA configured on each node
3 postgres installations. one on each node
repmgr2-beta2 or later

bouncer witness and pgbouncer server, will act as connection to our database cluster.
pgnode1 postgres database server 1
pgnode2 postgres database server 2

I will use these hosts as examples and as a point of reference for all the configuration files, lets start. . .

Install postgres on all nodes, set passwordless ssh between the three nodes for a user that has access to write in $PGDATA and run postgres binaries.

Install repmgr on all nodes, and pgbouncer only on bouncer.
On pgnode1 set the following in $PGDATA/postgresql.conf

wal_level = 'hot_standby'
archive_mode = on
archive_command = '/bin/false'
max_wal_senders = 10
wal_keep_segments = 5           # ----- FOR MY EXAMPLE 5, suggested by repmgr is bellow -------
#### wal_keep_segments = 5000   # 80 GB required on pg_xlog
hot_standby = on
shared_preload_libraries = 'repmgr_funcs'

and in $PGDATA/pg_hba.conf:
host    all             repmgr             trust
host    replication     repmgr           trust

Bring PostgreSQL up on pgnode1 and run:

createuser -s repmgr
createdb -O repmgr repmgr
psql -f </usr/share/postgresql/9.0>/contrib/repmgr_funcs.sql repmgr

On pgnode2 run:
repmgr -d repmgr -U repmgr -h pgnode1 standby clone
(this will use rsync)

Start postgres on pgnode2, you should have a new slave.
edit a repmgr.conf , whereever you like; in my case /etc/repmgr/repmgr.conf and add:

conninfo='host= dbname=repmgr user=repmgr'
follow_command='repmgr standby follow -f /etc/repmgr/repmgr.conf'

Each node will need its own repmgr.conf file: check github link for all my config files.
on pgnode1:
repmgr -f /etc/repmgr/repmgr.conf master register

on pgnode2:
repmgr -f /etc/repmgr/repmgr.conf standby register
on bouncer (witness server):repmgr -d repmgr -U repmgr -h -D PGDATA -f /etc/repmgr/repmgr.conf witness create

on pgnode2 and on bouncer run:
repmgrd -f /etc/repmgr/repmgr.conf > /var/log/postgresql/repmgr.log 2>&1 
(this is the deamon for repmgr)

Put the configuration file of pgbouncer from the master (pgnode1) to bouncer (pgbouncer server). Restart and test connectivity. If you stop pgnode1's postgres, pgnode2 will takeover, rsync configuration file for pgbouncer to bouncer, restart pgbouncer with ssh and mail a notification.

The main idea behind this implementation is that pgbouncer is the only entry point from the application to the database, each node upon promotion is responsible to “show” pgbouncer where it should now connect, this way, the application can remain unaware of  the current master db.
An alternative implementation could skip pgbouncer completely and each slave could directly change the configuration file of the application. In my example, I used a pgbouncer for 3 reasons: to ensure stability, to enforce connection pooling (and its advantages), and also to skip the assumption that the database stack has access to the application stack, which in my opinion shouldn’t.

  1. If the master is running repmgrd and db crashes then the deamon will exit because it can’t connect to the db, needs a way to restart, possibly with postgres startup.
  2. Bouncer in our example is a single point of failure, witness db can be configured as pgnode1/2 with repmgr and a second pgbouncer on a second machine. The application should take care on how to use these 2 pgbouncers.
  3. runs pg_ctl promote which is a postgresql 9.1 feature, for versions prior to 9.1 you may “touch” a trigger file.

Github link of all the configuration files used


Thanks for reading
--Vasilis Ventirozos


  1. Ti Kanis Vasilis,
    I am currently looking into your procedure for automated failover in pgsql...I am currently using 9.2 of postgres...probably shouldn't make much of a difference as so far...but my question to you is this...

    Have you had any issues with Repmgr? I've been doing some digging and haven't seen too much...Just wanted to know your experiences with it in the past weeks...


  2. Hey Thomas, you shouldn't have any issues with 9.2, the only thing that is version specific is the way i command the failover (pg_ctl promote) and that's 9.1+.
    As you probably know repmgr started having automatic failover functionality since version 2, which at the moment is at beta2 phase. I haven't found any issues or any problems but this was on a lab so i can't really assure you that this will be perfect in production, the other project that performs automatic failover is handyrep, to be honest i found some problems with handyrep, and because this might be implemented on a real customer i chose repmgr because it is much more simple and definitely more straight forward.
    If you need further info you can always reach me at #postgresql in freenode (nickname evol_monkey).

  3. excellent, man
    you saved my day!!

  4. Great post! One question: Is pgbouncer a must here? I can configure a vip or dns for the master db node and then on failover the new master will start listening on this interface. This way there is no need to update the application config files - they always go to the vip.

  5. Hey, no, pgbouncer is there just to abstract the connection string, you could get exactly the same functionality with VIP.

  6. eVOL, I had some problems trying to read this blog entry, the entire text is showing up to dark for me, besides that this blog post gave to me a lot of clarification about pgbouncer and repmgr, thanks!

  7. Hi,
    Thanks for the excellent tutorial.
    Hope you are still around this blog !
    I am trying to configure failover as per this blog on ubuntu.
    I installed repmgr using $ sudo apt-get install repmgr
    However, I can't locate repmgr_funcs.sql as described in the step -

    psql -f /contrib/repmgr_funcs.sql repmgr

    Can you please help?

    1. Hey, Thanks for reading ,
      I haven't installed repmgr from packages but i assume that the package itself installed the functions, have you checked and they are not there ? Also, have you installed repmgr v2.0.x or 3.x ? This guide is about repmgr 2.0 and afaik the steps are not exactly the same at 3.0.x.
      You can check where the function file is though (if exists) with:
      dpkg-query -L |grep sql

    2. $ repmgr --version
      repmgr 2.0beta1 (PostgreSQL 9.3.2)

      postgres@ip-xxx:/home/ubuntu$ dpkg -l|grep repmgr
      ii repmgr 2.0~beta2-3 amd64 replication manager for PostgreSQL

      postgres@ip-xxx:/home/ubuntu$ dpkg-query -l |grep sql
      ii libsqlite3-0:amd64 3.8.2-1ubuntu2 amd64 SQLite 3 shared library
      ii postgresql 9.3+154ubuntu1 all object-relational SQL database (supported version)
      ii postgresql-9.3 9.3.10-0ubuntu0.14.04 amd64 object-relational SQL database, version 9.3 server
      ii postgresql-9.3-pgpool2 3.3.2-1ubuntu1 amd64 connection pool server and replication proxy for PostgreSQL - modules
      ii postgresql-client-9.3 9.3.10-0ubuntu0.14.04 amd64 front-end programs for PostgreSQL 9.3
      ii postgresql-client-common 154ubuntu1 all manager for multiple PostgreSQL client versions
      ii postgresql-common 154ubuntu1 all PostgreSQL database-cluster manager
      ii postgresql-contrib 9.3+154ubuntu1 all additional facilities for PostgreSQL (supported version)
      ii postgresql-contrib-9.3 9.3.10-0ubuntu0.14.04 amd64 additional facilities for PostgreSQL

  8. i checked the package, there isn't an sql file, try continue without adding the functions, they might be created when you register a new master.

    Soon i will post a post about repmgr 3.0.2 by the way

  9. I shall try. Thank you. shall keep an eye for your 3.0.2 blog.

  10. Added optional dependency $sudo apt-get install postgresql-9.3-repmgr and voila postgresql service starts !!

  11. Thanks for the great post. It helped me lot to configure the postgres failover.
    I have only one question. In one configuration file of "bouncer/repmgr.conf", "" is mentioned. But I haven't found any "" in attachments.

    Can you please provide some details on that file.


    1. Hey Kieran, first of all, thanks for reading.
      That file can either have a pg_ctl -D $PGDATA promote command or a touch trigger file command. Nothing complicated there really.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Thanks for the reply Vasilis.

      Configuration is working fine. Auto switch over is working great.

      The only problem I am facing is the queries are not getting queued on pgbouncer server, if it was run from multiple sessions of pgbouncer at the time of failover process.
      Have you faced such issue during failover time.

  12. Thanks for this post:) I have recreated this environment as in your post. Unfortunately, the penultimate step can not be executed.

    >>>>>>repmgr -d repmgr -U repmgr -h -D PGDATA -f /etc/repmgr/repmgr.conf witness create<<<<<< on PgBouncer Server.

    I get the following error: [ERROR] Cannot insert node details, FEHLER: Relation »repmgr_my_cluster.repl_nodes« existiert nicht
    LINE 1: INSERT INTO repmgr_my_cluster.repl_nodes(id, cluster, name, ...

    I hope you can support me after this time. In which step, the mentioned table is created?

    I hope you can help me. Many Thanks. Dan


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