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The PostgreSQL 9.0 Reference Manual - Volume 3 - Server Administration Guide
by The PostgreSQL Global Development Group
Paperback (6"x9"), 274 pages
ISBN 9781906966072
RRP £9.95 ($14.95)

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4.4.3 Cost-Based Vacuum Delay

During the execution of VACUUM and ANALYZE commands, the system maintains an internal counter that keeps track of the estimated cost of the various I/O operations that are performed. When the accumulated cost reaches a limit (specified by vacuum_cost_limit), the process performing the operation will sleep for a short period of time, as specified by vacuum_cost_delay. Then it will reset the counter and continue execution.

The intent of this feature is to allow administrators to reduce the I/O impact of these commands on concurrent database activity. There are many situations where it is not important that maintenance commands like VACUUM and ANALYZE finish quickly; however, it is usually very important that these commands do not significantly interfere with the ability of the system to perform other database operations. Cost-based vacuum delay provides a way for administrators to achieve this.

This feature is disabled by default for manually issued VACUUM commands. To enable it, set the vacuum_cost_delay variable to a nonzero value.

vacuum_cost_delay (integer)
The length of time, in milliseconds, that the process will sleep when the cost limit has been exceeded. The default value is zero, which disables the cost-based vacuum delay feature. Positive values enable cost-based vacuuming. Note that on many systems, the effective resolution of sleep delays is 10 milliseconds; setting vacuum_cost_delay to a value that is not a multiple of 10 might have the same results as setting it to the next higher multiple of 10. When using cost-based vacuuming, appropriate values for vacuum_cost_delay are usually quite small, perhaps 10 or 20 milliseconds. Adjusting vacuum's resource consumption is best done by changing the other vacuum cost parameters.
vacuum_cost_page_hit (integer)
The estimated cost for vacuuming a buffer found in the shared buffer cache. It represents the cost to lock the buffer pool, lookup the shared hash table and scan the content of the page. The default value is one.
vacuum_cost_page_miss (integer)
The estimated cost for vacuuming a buffer that has to be read from disk. This represents the effort to lock the buffer pool, lookup the shared hash table, read the desired block in from the disk and scan its content. The default value is 10.
vacuum_cost_page_dirty (integer)
The estimated cost charged when vacuum modifies a block that was previously clean. It represents the extra I/O required to flush the dirty block out to disk again. The default value is 20.
vacuum_cost_limit (integer)
The accumulated cost that will cause the vacuuming process to sleep. The default value is 200.

Note: There are certain operations that hold critical locks and should therefore complete as quickly as possible. Cost-based vacuum delays do not occur during such operations. Therefore it is possible that the cost accumulates far higher than the specified limit. To avoid uselessly long delays in such cases, the actual delay is calculated as vacuum_cost_delay * accumulated_balance / vacuum_cost_limit with a maximum of vacuum_cost_delay * 4.

ISBN 9781906966072The PostgreSQL 9.0 Reference Manual - Volume 3 - Server Administration GuideSee the print edition