How to Backup Database Object Definitions in PostgreSQL: A Detailed Guide

The Importance of Database Backups

Database backups are crucial because they can help you recover your data in case of a disaster or data loss. A database backup is essentially a copy of the data stored in a database at a particular point in time. It is important to have regular backups because they can be used to restore your database to a previous state if something goes wrong, such as hardware failure, software bugs, ransomware attacks, or user errors.

Without regular backups, you could lose all your important data permanently. A good backup strategy should involve making frequent backups and storing them in safe locations where they can be easily accessed when needed.

The frequency of the backups will depend on the amount of data that changes regularly and the criticality of that data. For example, if you run an e-commerce website that generates new orders every hour, then you may want to make hourly backups to ensure that you don’t lose any recent orders.

Why Backing Up Object Definitions is Crucial

While making regular backups of your entire database is essential, it’s also important to back up your object definitions separately. Object definitions refer to metadata information about tables, indexes, constraints, views, functions and other database objects that define their structure and behavior. They do not include the actual table or index data but rather instructions on how those tables and indexes should behave when queried or modified.

Backing up object definitions is crucial because it allows you to recreate the structure of your objects in case they get lost due to some unexpected event such as accidental deletion or corruption. If you lose an object definition without having a backup copy then it can be difficult and time-consuming task for developers and DBAs alike to recreate these objects entirely from scratch.

Having a backup copy of object definitions helps avoid situations where developers rewrite code that was already in place, but unfortunately has been lost due to an unexpected event. In addition, it’s easier to ensure consistency and accuracy when restoring an object from a backup than when recreating it from scratch.


Making regular backups of your databases is critical for ensuring that you can recover your data in case of a disaster or data loss. However, backing up object definitions separately is equally important because it allows you to recreate the structure of your objects quickly and accurately without having to rewrite code from scratch. In the next sections of this article, we will discuss how to backup the object definitions using two different methods – pg_dump command and pgAdmin tool.

Understanding PostgreSQL Object Definitions

Object definitions refer to the schema objects or database entities within a PostgreSQL database. These objects are used to define and store data as well as control its access.

Object definitions include, but are not limited to, tables, indexes, triggers, views, and sequences. They are stored in the system catalog tables of a PostgreSQL database.

PostgreSQL provides an extensive set of features for managing these object definitions. Understanding these features is crucial when attempting to backup object definitions in a PostgreSQL database.

Definition of Object Definitions in PostgreSQL

In PostgreSQL, object definitions describe the structure and properties of a schema object or entity contained within a database. They consist of SQL statements that define the characteristics of an object such as its name, data type, size constraints and other attributes based on their respective types. The best way to understand this concept is by considering an example; when you create a table in your PostgresSQL database using the CREATE TABLE statement, you are defining the table’s structure by specifying its columns (data types), constraints and rules among others.

Types of Object Definitions and Their Purposes

There are several types of object definitions in PostgreSQL that provide different functionalities for managing data within a database.

  • Tables: Tables are one of the most commonly used schema objects in databases. They contain rows with fields or columns that hold information about data entities represented by those rows e.g., customer information.
  • Indexes: indexes allow you to quickly search for specific data entries within your tables – they provide faster access when querying large datasets.
  • Triggers: triggers provide automated responses initiated by particular events i.e., data entry, deletion or modification in a table.
  • Views: Views present a virtual representation of data without actually changing the data in the underlying database tables. They are often used to simplify complex queries or restrict access to specific columns/rows.
  • Sequences: sequences provide an automatic incrementing or decrementing integer value that can be used as a primary key when inserting new rows into tables.

Each of these object definitions serves a unique purpose within the PostgreSQL database and understanding their functions is integral when attempting to backup object definitions efficiently.

Methods for Backing Up Object Definitions in PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL is a powerful open-source database management system that supports many different methods for backing up object definitions. In this section, we will focus on two of the most popular and commonly used backup methods: pg_dump command and pgAdmin.

pg_dump command: Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use It to Backup Object Definitions

The pg_dump command is a reliable, built-in tool in PostgreSQL that allows you to dump or extract database objects into a text file. The text file can then be used to restore the database or individual objects when needed.

Here’s how to use the pg_dump command:

  1. Open your terminal window and navigate to the directory where you want to save the backup file
  1. Type the following command:

Replace USERNAME with your PostgreSQL username, DATABASENAME with your database name, and FILENAME.sql with your desired name for the backup file.

  1. You’ll be prompted to enter your password. Enter it and press Enter.
  1. The pg_dump tool will start extracting data and object definitions from your PostgreSQL database into a text file. Depending on the size of your database, this may take some time.
  1. When it’s done, you’ll see a message indicating that the backup was successful. You can then view or edit the backed-up object definitions in any text editor of your choice.

pgAdmin: Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use It to Backup Object Definitions

If you prefer a user-friendly graphical interface for backing up object definitions, you can use pgAdmin. PgAdmin is a popular open-source administration tool for PostgreSQL that provides various functions for database management.

Here’s how to use pgAdmin to back up object definitions:

  1. Open pgAdmin and connect to your PostgreSQL server
  2. In the Object browser pane, right-click on your database name and select “Backup”
  1. In the “Backup options” dialog box, choose the objects you want to back up (e.g. tables, views, functions) and select a file format for the backup file. Click “OK.”
  1. You’ll be prompted to save the backup file in a directory of your choice. Choose a location and click “Save.”

PgAdmin will then extract object definitions from your database and save them in the specified file format. You can then view or edit the backed-up object definitions using any compatible text editor.

Both methods discussed above are reliable ways of backing up object definitions in PostgreSQL. The choice between them will depend on personal preference, system requirements, and other factors.

Best Practices for Database Backup and Recovery

Importance of having a backup strategy

Having a good backup strategy is essential for ensuring that your data is secure and recoverable in the event of a disaster. Without a backup strategy, you risk losing valuable data, which can have serious consequences for your business. A solid backup strategy should include regular backups, multiple copies of backups stored in different locations, and testing of backups to ensure their integrity.

Regular backups are essential to ensure that the most up-to-date version of your data is available in the event of a disaster. How often you need to perform backups will depend on your specific situation, but most businesses should perform daily or weekly backups at minimum.

Multiple copies of backups stored in different locations will help protect against natural disasters such as fires or floods. Testing your backups regularly is also crucial to ensure that they are complete and easily restorable if needed.

Tips for creating a reliable backup plan

When creating a backup plan, there are several factors to consider to ensure that it’s reliable and effective. First, determine what data needs to be backed up and how often it should be backed up. This will vary depending on the type of data you have and how frequently it changes.

Next, choose an appropriate backup method based on your backup size and frequency requirements. For larger databases with frequent changes, incremental or differential backups may be more efficient than full backups every time.

It’s also important to consider where you store your backups. Backup files should be stored in secure locations away from the original database server to reduce the risk of losing both the primary database and its associated backup files in one fell swoop.

Test your recovery process regularly by restoring from backups onto test servers or environments. This will help uncover any potential issues with your recovery process before they become major problems during an actual disaster recovery scenario.


Implementing a good backup strategy is essential for protecting your business and its valuable data. By following best practices for backup and recovery, you can ensure that your data is secure and recoverable in the event of a disaster.

Regular backups, multiple copies of backups stored in different locations, and testing of backups to ensure their integrity are all crucial components of a solid backup plan. By taking the time to create an effective backup strategy, you can rest assured that your business is protected against data loss and other disasters.

Advanced Techniques for Backing Up Object Definitions

Using custom scripts to automate the process

Creating custom scripts to automate the process of backing up PostgreSQL object definitions can help streamline the backup process, making it more efficient and less time-consuming. This can be especially useful for companies that need to perform backups on a regular basis or have complex backup procedures.

With custom scripts, you can set up automatic backups that run on a schedule, without requiring any manual intervention. To create a custom backup script, you will need to have some knowledge of scripting languages such as Python or Bash.

Depending on your needs, you may also want to look into using programs like Cron or Task Scheduler to automate the backup process. The script should include commands for connecting to the database and executing pg_dump or another tool used for backing up object definitions.

Custom scripts can also be used for more advanced tasks such as compressing backups, encrypting them, and transferring them to remote locations. By automating these tasks with custom scripts, you can ensure that your backups are secure and always accessible when needed.

Utilizing third-party tools

In addition to using built-in PostgreSQL tools like pg_dump and pgAdmin for backing up object definitions, there are also third-party tools available that can make the process even easier. These tools often offer advanced features not found in native PostgreSQL tools, such as compression and encryption options. One such tool is Barman (Backup And Recovery Manager), which is an open-source tool specifically designed for managing PostgreSQL backups.

Barman allows you to manage multiple PostgreSQL servers from a central location and offers features such as incremental backups and point-in-time recovery. Another option is Postgres-XL Backup & Recovery Toolkit (BART), which is an extension of PostgreSQL designed specifically for high availability environments with large databases.

BART offers advanced features like parallel compression and incremental differential backups, making it a popular choice for enterprise-level backup solutions. Overall, utilizing third-party tools can help simplify and streamline the backup process, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business without sacrificing the security and accessibility of your data.

Restoring Object Definitions from Backup

Creating object definition backups is the first step, but what happens when you need to restore them? In this section, we will walk through the process of restoring backed-up object definitions in PostgreSQL.

Step-by-step guide on how to restore backed-up object definitions

The first step in restoring object definitions from a backup is to access the command line or terminal. From there, we can use pg_restore, a command-line tool provided by PostgreSQL to restore backed-up object definitions.

To begin, ensure that you have created a recent backup of your database using one of the methods discussed earlier. Once you have confirmed that you have a valid backup file saved on your system or network drive, locate it and note its file path.

Next, open the terminal and navigate to the directory where your saved backup file is located using the cd (change directory) command. Once you are in this directory, enter the following command:

$ pg_restore -U [username] -d [database_name] [backup_file_path]

The -U flag specifies the username that will be used for authentication during the restore process. The -d flag specifies which database will receive the restored data.

Replace [backup_file_path] with the full path and filename of your backup file. After running this command, PostgreSQL will begin restoring all backed-up object definitions to their original locations within your database.

Troubleshooting Common Issues During Object Definition Restoration

In some cases, users may experience errors or issues when restoring backed up object definitions within PostgreSQL. Here are some tips for troubleshooting common issues:

  • Error: “pg_restore: error: input file appears to be a text format dump. Please use psql”: This error can occur if the backup file you are trying to restore is in a plain-text format instead of a compatible backup format. To resolve this issue, create a new backup in one of the supported formats and attempt the restore process again.
  • Error: “pg_restore: [archiver] unsupported version (1.14) in file header”: This error can occur if you are attempting to restore a backup file that was created using an older or newer version of PostgreSQL than the one currently installed on your system. To resolve this issue, ensure that your backup file was created using a compatible version of PostgreSQL for your current installation.
  • Slow Restore Times: Restoring large databases can take hours or even days depending on their size and complexity. To speed up the restoration process, consider performing incremental backups rather than full backups, upgrading your hardware for faster read/write speeds, or breaking up large backups into smaller files.

By following these tips and troubleshooting common issues as they arise, you will be able to successfully restore backed-up object definitions within PostgreSQL with ease.


In this article, we have covered the essential aspects of backing up database object definitions in PostgreSQL. We began by discussing why it is crucial to backup object definitions and proceeded to define what object definitions are in PostgreSQL and their different types. We then explored two primary methods for backing up PostgreSQL object definitions: pg_dump command and pgAdmin interface.

We also looked at some best practices for backup and recovery, including creating a reliable backup plan that fits your organization’s needs. Furthermore, we discussed advanced techniques such as automating the process with custom scripts or utilizing third-party tools to save time while ensuring accuracy.

We provided a step-by-step guide on how to restore backed-up object definitions. It’s essential to remember that backing up your database’s object definitions is crucial in ensuring data integrity and minimizing downtime when an issue arises.

Recap of Key Points Covered in the Guide

  • Backing up database object definitions is just as important as backing up data.
  • Object definitions are metadata that provides information on the structure of databases’ objects such as tables, views, functions, etc.
  • The two most popular methods for backing up PostgreSQL objects include using pg_dump command and pgAdmin interface.
  • A reliable backup strategy should include determining the frequency of backups, where backups will be stored, who will be responsible for performing them, among others.

Final Thoughts on the Importance of Backing Up Database Object Definitions

Regularly backing up your database’s object definitions is an integral part of any comprehensive disaster recovery plan. It ensures that you can recover your database precisely as it was before any issues occurred without losing any critical data or metadata.

With multiple options available for backing up PostgreSQL object definitions, it’s easy to implement a backup plan that fits your organization’s needs. By following the best practices covered in this guide and developing a comprehensive backup strategy, you can stay ahead of any potential disasters and minimize downtime.

Remember, backups are not just for accidents or failures but also for upgrades, migrations, and changes in organizational structure. The benefits of regularly backing up your database object definitions far outweigh the costs of not doing so.

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