Where are the PostgreSQL configuration files

5 set 2023 2 min di lettura
Where are the PostgreSQL configuration files
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When it comes to configuring and optimizing PostgreSQL, understanding the location and purpose of its configuration files is crucial. These files determine how the PostgreSQL server works, how it connects with client applications, and many other aspects of database behavior. Let's analyze where PostgreSQL stores its configuration files and what each of these files does.

Root Location: The data directory

The main configuration files for PostgreSQL reside in the data directory, often referred to as the "data cluster". The specific path to this directory may vary depending on how you installed PostgreSQL and your operating system. However, to quickly find the data directory for a running PostgreSQL instance, you can use the following SQL command:

SHOW data_directory;

You can also run the query from the terminal:

sudo -u postgres psql -c 'SHOW data_directory'

Inside this directory you will mainly find three important configuration files:

1.1. postgresql.conf

This is the main configuration file for the PostgreSQL server. Contains settings related to:

  • Memory usage (shared_buffers, work_mem, etc.)
  • Write-ahead logging (wal_level, wal_buffers, etc.)
  • Connections and authentication (max_connections, listen_addresses, etc.)
  • Query tuning parameters, logging, and many other server behaviors.
1.2. pg_hba.conf

"hba" stands for host-based authentication. This file regulates:

  • Which users can connect to which databases
  • From which hosts or networks
  • Using which authentication methods (for example, md5, password, peer, etc.)
  • Every connection to the PostgreSQL server will be checked against this file to determine if the connection should be allowed or denied.
1.3. pg_ident.conf

While not as frequently changed as the other two, this file is essential when you want to map OS-level usernames to PostgreSQL usernames. This is especially useful when using the peer or ident authentication methods.

Additional configuration files

In some PostgreSQL configurations, especially those maintained by certain package managers or distributions, additional configuration files may be split from the main postgresql.conf. These may be located in a conf.d directory or other similar directory. This approach is taken to modularize configurations or to make it easier for package updates not to override custom settings.

Search for configuration files via PSQL

If you have already logged into a PostgreSQL instance using the psql command-line tool, you can quickly find the location of the main configuration file using the following command:

SHOW config_file;

You can also run the query from the terminal:

sudo -u postgres psql -c 'SHOW data_directory'

This will provide the full path to the postgresql.conf file. Similarly, the paths to pg_hba.conf and other configuration files can be inferred based on the directory structure.

Typical default locations

While it's always best to check the exact paths to your specific PostgreSQL instance, here are some common default locations based on your operating system:

  • Linux (using PostgreSQL official packages): /var/lib/pgsql/[version]/date/
  • Linux (using package managers like apt or yum): /etc/postgresql/[version]/main/ or /var/lib/pgsql/data
  • macOS (using Homebrew): /usr/local/var/postgres/
  • Windows: usually in the Data subdirectory of where PostgreSQL was installed, for example C:\Program Files\PostgreSQL\[version]\data\


Understanding where PostgreSQL stores its configuration files and what each of these files does is critical to effective database administration. Whether you're troubleshooting a connection issue, optimizing performance, or setting up a new instance, these configuration files will often be your first stop. Make sure you handle these files with care, always back up before making changes, and familiarize yourself with their syntax and semantics to ensure proper functioning of your PostgreSQL server.

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