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What Is PostgreSQL? Open-Source Database System

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PostgreSQL is an open-source, object-relational database system that lets you store and scale complicated data workloads safely. In this article, we discuss PostgreSQL, its uses, and benefits.

What Is PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL logo

PostgreSQL is an advanced open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) developed by PostgreSQL Global Development Group. It was started as part of the POSTGRES project in 1986 at the University of California, Berkeley. It was initially released on July 8, 1996.

PostgreSQL is an enterprise-class relational database that allows both relational and non-relational querying. It supports procedural languages, such as PL/pgSQL, PL/Python, PL/Tcl, and PL/Perl, as well as other non-standard procedural languages, such as Java, .Net, Go, Ruby, C, C++, ODBC, and others.

This RDBMS can also store both structured and unstructured data in a single product. It supports most data types, such as numeric, monetary, character, binary, date/time, Boolean, enumerated, geometric, network address, BitString, text search, UUID, XML,  JSON, arrays, composite, ranges, domain, object identifier, pg_lsn, and pseudo.

PostgreSQL is available for macOS, Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, and UnixWare operating systems. It could also work for most other Unix-like systems. Moreover, PostgreSQL is the default database for Apple’s macOS Server.

Read more: Best SQL Server Monitoring & Performance Tools 2022

SQL in PostgreSQL

SQL (structured query language) is designed for storing, manipulating, and retrieving data. The use of the SQL language in PostgreSQL makes it extendable and standards-compliant. The RDBMS provides a large number of operators and functions for built-in data types. It also supports other rich SQL language operations, making it an effective and powerful choice.

Server Administration

PostgreSQL server administration is capable of many necessary optimization tasks. Database administration covers the essential activities, such as software installation, server set-up and configuration, users and databases management, and maintenance tasks.


There are two client interfaces included in the base PostgreSQL distribution, libpq and ECPG. The graphical user interface (GUI) tools of the RDBMS allow open-source database users to manage, manipulate, and visualize data. Popular GUI tools include pgAdmin, DBeaver, Navicat, DataGrip, and OmniDB.

Read more: SQL Performance Tuning Best Practices

PostgreSQL Uses

PostgreSQL is among the more stable database management systems, and is commonly used as the primary data store or warehouse for website, geospatial, and analytics applications.

  • General-purpose OLTP: Online transaction processing (OLTP) systems capture and maintain transaction data in the database. OLTP databases are written, read, and updated frequently, with an emphasis on fast processing. Many startups and large enterprises use this RDBMS as the primary data store for products, internet-scale applications, and solutions.
  • Federated hub: PostgreSQL can federate data, and act as a hub within an infrastructure. It has foreign data wrappers for MySQL, Oracle, MongoDB, CouchDB, Redis, Informix, Neo4j, and others. The community contributed significantly to the development of these extensions. They can map to ODBC, JDBC, and LDAP interfaces.
  • Geospatial: Spatial or geographic data analysis is an important aspect of data analysis that helps find locations, distances, and other geographic properties. The PostGIS extension of PostgreSQL allows geographic objects and can be used as geographic information systems (GIS) and geospatial data stores for location-based services. Notably, PostGIS offers many unique features rarely found in other spatial databases.
  • LAPP stack: The LAPP (Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, PHP/Perl/Python) stack is an open-source web platform that can be used to run dynamic websites and servers. As such, the RDBMS can run dynamic websites and applications as part of a powerful alternative to the LAMP stack.

Read more: How Does an SQL Injection Attack Work? Examples & Types

What Are the Benefits of Using PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL advertises itself as “the most advanced open-source relational database in the world.” There are a lot of benefits of using it.

  • Open-source license: It’s available under an open-source license that provides the freedom to use, implement, and modify it as required without any cost. No licensing cost eliminates the risk of over-deployment. This is the biggest benefit — that all types of users can freely experience advanced database systems and services.
  • Easily extensible: This system’s features aim to help developers and administrators build applications, protect data integrity, and manage large or small datasets. Correspondingly, it’s designed to be easily extensible, and the extensions loaded into the database function just like built-in features.
  • Reliability and integrity: Reliability is an important feature of any database system, and PostgreSQL does everything possible to ensure reliable operation for data. For instance, to ensure data integrity, the RDBMS allows write-ahead logging (WAL).
  • High availability and load balancing: It ensures high availability and load balancing through continuous planning, standby server operation, preparing the primary for standby servers, setting up a standby server, streaming replication, replication slots, cascading replication, synchronous replication, and continuous archiving in standby.
  • Backup and restore: PostgreSQL databases can be configured to ensure valuable data is backed up regularly. There are three fundamentally different approaches to backing up data: SQL dump, file system-level backup, and continuous archiving.

“There was quite a bit of debate when we were deciding what tools would best serve as the foundation of FlightAware’s ambitious goals. For the underlying database, however, the choice to use PostgreSQL was quite clear from the very beginning,” said David McNett, CIO at FlightAware.

This RDBMS is backed by over 30 years of community development and has been proven to be highly scalable. It is the backbone of many key technologies and applications used every day. Developers and enterprises can build their applications with reliability and high availability using PostgreSQL.

Read next: Best Database Software & Management Systems 2021

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