Let's say I'm keeping all the xlog's for a cluster instance since the time of cluster initialization (ie, initdb). Let's call that time T0. All xlog's are retained/archived through T1 and continuing through time T2, at which point a backup is made. But now, I need to recover to time T1. I know how to do PIT to a time after T2, but I'm not sure how to do it to time T1. Do I re-initialize the database and replay the logs? Will that actually work, or will I have issues with timelines?

  • When I try this idea (initdb in new directory, copy over all pg_xlogs), I get DETAIL: WAL file database system identifier is 6221786353392811102, pg_control database system identifier is 6252279422905597461. Is there a way to hack this?
    – Otheus
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 15:29

1 Answer 1


I was able to perform a complete recovery from T0 to T1 using these steps. We do it with a completely newly initialized database. We need the original database and all its xlogs. The original database is in $OLD_PGDATA and the new one is in $PGDATA. Make sure you get these straight before you proceed.


  1. Set $PGDATA and create its directory and new database therein

    [postgres]$ export PGDATA=/var/lib/pgsql.$$
    [postgres]$ mkdir -p $PGDATA
    [postgres]$ initdb 
  2. Modify the control file using a little trick I gleaned from stackexchange and other sites:

    [postgres]$ cut -c 1-8 $OLD_PGDATA/global/pg_control | tr -d '\n' |
     dd of=$PGDATA/global/pg_control count=1 skip=0 conv=notrunc
    [postgres]$ pg_resetxlog -f $PGDATA

You should see something like the following warning and output, which can be ignored:

     pg_resetxlog: pg_control exists but has invalid CRC; proceed with caution
     Transaction log reset
  1. Create recovery.conf file and start the database.

     [postgres]$ cat >recovery.conf << END
     restore_command='cp "$OLD_PGDATA/pg_xlog/%f" "%p"'
     [postgres]$ pg_ctl start

Note: the space between << and END is very important.

  1. According to pg_resetxlog manual, afterwards, do a full dump, initdb, restore to be sure the DB is in a consistent state.

Note: if you are running the OLD_PGDATA instance on the same host, you'll just add -o "-p 5433" to use a port #5433 instead of the default port.

It took less than 15 minutes to recover 1700+ or 28 GB of xlog files.

  • Once your PITR to time T1 was completed, did you do a dump, initdb, and restore as comes highly recommended in the manual and in other dba.se questions?
    – Kassandry
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 4:58
  • No I did not, but this was a test case. I'll add it to the answer. Thank you!
    – Otheus
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 10:27

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