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PostgreSQL Reference Manual - Volume 1 - SQL Language Reference
by The PostgreSQL Global Development Group
Paperback (6"x9"), 716 pages
ISBN 0954612027
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10.3.1 Table-Level Locks

The list below shows the available lock modes and the contexts in which they are used automatically by PostgreSQL. You can also acquire any of these locks explicitly with the command LOCK. Remember that all of these lock modes are table-level locks, even if the name contains the word “row”; the names of the lock modes are historical. To some extent the names reflect the typical usage of each lock mode--but the semantics are all the same. The only real difference between one lock mode and another is the set of lock modes with which each conflicts. Two transactions cannot hold locks of conflicting modes on the same table at the same time. (However, a transaction never conflicts with itself. For example, it may acquire ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock and later acquire ACCESS SHARE lock on the same table.) Non-conflicting lock modes may be held concurrently by many transactions. Notice in particular that some lock modes are self-conflicting (for example, an ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock cannot be held by more than one transaction at a time) while others are not self-conflicting (for example, an ACCESS SHARE lock can be held by multiple transactions).

Table-level lock modes:

ACCESS SHARE
Conflicts with the ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock mode only. The SELECT command acquires a lock of this mode on referenced tables. In general, any query that only reads a table and does not modify it will acquire this lock mode.
ROW SHARE
Conflicts with the EXCLUSIVE and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. The SELECT FOR UPDATE and SELECT FOR SHARE commands acquire a lock of this mode on the target table(s) (in addition to ACCESS SHARE locks on any other tables that are referenced but not selected FOR UPDATE/FOR SHARE).
ROW EXCLUSIVE
Conflicts with the SHARE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. The commands UPDATE, DELETE, and INSERT acquire this lock mode on the target table (in addition to ACCESS SHARE locks on any other referenced tables). In general, this lock mode will be acquired by any command that modifies the data in a table.
SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE
Conflicts with the SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE, SHARE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. This mode protects a table against concurrent schema changes and VACUUM runs. Acquired by VACUUM (without FULL), ANALYZE, and CREATE INDEX CONCURRENTLY.
SHARE
Conflicts with the ROW EXCLUSIVE, SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. This mode protects a table against concurrent data changes. Acquired by CREATE INDEX (without CONCURRENTLY).
SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE
Conflicts with the ROW EXCLUSIVE, SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE, SHARE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. This lock mode is not automatically acquired by any PostgreSQL command.
EXCLUSIVE
Conflicts with the ROW SHARE, ROW EXCLUSIVE, SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE, SHARE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. This mode allows only concurrent ACCESS SHARE locks, i.e., only reads from the table can proceed in parallel with a transaction holding this lock mode. This lock mode is not automatically acquired on user tables by any PostgreSQL command. However it is acquired on certain system catalogs in some operations.
ACCESS EXCLUSIVE
Conflicts with locks of all modes (ACCESS SHARE, ROW SHARE, ROW EXCLUSIVE, SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE, SHARE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE). This mode guarantees that the holder is the only transaction accessing the table in any way. Acquired by the ALTER TABLE, DROP TABLE, TRUNCATE, REINDEX, CLUSTER, and VACUUM FULL commands. This is also the default lock mode for LOCK TABLE statements that do not specify a mode explicitly.

Tip: Only an ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock blocks a SELECT (without FOR UPDATE/SHARE) statement.

Once acquired, a lock is normally held till end of transaction. But if a lock is acquired after establishing a savepoint, the lock is released immediately if the savepoint is rolled back to. This is consistent with the principle that ROLLBACK cancels all effects of the commands since the savepoint. The same holds for locks acquired within a PL/pgSQL exception block: an error escape from the block releases locks acquired within it.

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