Write-Ahead Logging (WAL)
When processing data, PostgreSQL first logs transactions to the
Write-Ahead Log (
WAL, also referred to as the
transaction log) before writing the changes to the affected data files themselves. This helps ensure data integrity as in the event of a server crash PostgreSQL can replay any changes which have not yet been applied to the data files from the WAL log. It also improves I/O performance, as writes to the WAL log are performed sequentially, making the cost of syncing the WAL log to disk less than syncing individual data pages.
WAL files can also be used to apply the same changes to another database ("log shipping") or as part of a backup solution together with a base backup.
At certain intervals - checkpoints - transactions recorded in the WAL log are written to their respective data files and the checkpoint is recorded in the WAL log. The contents of the WAL log before the checkpoint are no longer required and can be removed/recycled (or archived if required for replication etc.).
Default WAL filesize is 16MB. This value is defined in src/include/pg_config_manual.h as:
/* * This is default value for wal_segment_size to be used at initdb when run * without --walsegsize option. Must be a valid segment size. */ #define DEFAULT_XLOG_SEG_SIZE (16*1024*1024)
Header file src/include/access/xlog_internal.h contains a number of useful definitions and macros for manipulating WAL files, including: