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Using PostgreSQL 9.3 on Windows 7x64, CoreI7, SSD.

Assume a PostgreSQL table with 8 Int32 columns and following C# code to fill the table.

using (var connection = new NpgsqlConnection("User Id=postgres;Password=**;host=localhost;database=**;"))
using (var command = new NpgsqlCommand())
    command.Connection = connection;
    command.CommandText = "COPY \"MyTable\" FROM STDIN;";
    var copyInSerializer = new NpgsqlCopySerializer(connection);
    var copyIn = new NpgsqlCopyIn(command, connection, copyInSerializer.ToStream);

    for (int i = start; i < start + 1000000; i++)
        //add 7 other int32 values


On my test hardware this took ~10 seconds execution time and measured disk usage of ~20MB/s.
CPU and RAM do NOT hit limits.

The given SSD supports ~60MB/s writing random 4k blocks so I wondered why it would not execute faster. I created a second, identical table in the same database and disk and ran the above code sample in parallel (two tasks) on both tables.
Both took ~10 seconds, and Measured Disk usage was ~40MB/s.

Why does PostgreSQL not focus all available resources on the one and only operation happening?
Is there a way to force PostgreSQL to use the full available disk bandwidth?

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Try setting effective_io_concurrency = 6 or so. –  Craig Ringer Jan 24 at 15:19
I'm not familiar with Npgsql, but is this the right way to do a "bulk" operation, or is the code performing inserts row-by-row (= "slow-by-slow")? –  Colin 't Hart Jan 24 at 18:32
I would recommend the book PostgreSQL High Performance as to answer that question would require a book. There are many variables in play. –  ETL Jan 24 at 19:16
@CraigRinger According to the documentation "Currently, this setting only affects bitmap heap scans." Doesn't this mean it would only help for queries? –  Colin 't Hart Jan 24 at 19:16
What is disk usage when you simply use psql and a dump file to copy data from? –  Tometzky Jan 24 at 21:27
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migrated from serverfault.com Jan 24 at 18:18

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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

ADO.NET (used in the code sample) obviously communicates via network - even if a local Postgres instance is used. Using STDIN therefore results in quite a bit overhead. Before Postgres is able to insert the bulk data, it needs to be:

  • serialized by C# client
  • transmitted via network connection (in my case to localhost)
  • deserialized by Postgres

This basically explains/justifies the described behaviour.

If the C# Client and Postgres are run on the same computer, you can speed up bulk inseration by writing a csv file on a local ssd drive (even better a ram drive) and execute the SQL statement 'Copy MyTable From x:\test.csv'.

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