I have added boolean type column to table with roughly 100 million rows. Afterwards I have manually executed UPDATE statements to set the new column value to true/false depending on other column values. UPDATES were done overnight (took a few hours).

Then I set the column to NOT NULL.

After all these steps table size increased almost twice. ~40GB -> 68GB.

I have used following query for updating in chunks (To not lock the table completely):

WITH cte AS (
    SELECT id from results_storage  WHERE condition < 100   AND newboolean IS NULL  limit 10000

UPDATE results_storage r SET       newboolean = FALSE FROM   cte WHERE  r.id = cte.id RETURNING r.id;

What could be the cause?
Is there any way to reduce the space taken?
I have expected single boolean column to take very little extra space. (+~100MB for each 100M rows as boolean should take 1 byte storage).

  • If you can afford it, vacuum full
    – Vao Tsun
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 10:47
  • Do you think vacuum full will be faster than dump + truncate + import? Any way to estimate vacuum full time?
    – stkxchng
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 10:54
  • oh... hard comparison. COPY is fast, vacuum is neat. Don't think you will win much with copy... do you have indexes? FK?
    – Vao Tsun
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 10:59
  • There is only single primary key used as index on ID column. No foreign keys.
    – stkxchng
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 11:00
  • I'm not sure. probably rough estimation for vacuumdb would be timing create table as select * and later table add PK?..
    – Vao Tsun
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


I suppose now tuples did not fit any free space on pages, so each row had to relocate. Assuming most if not all new rows only grown in size, around half rows needed new location, and so table is taking 50% more on disk. Why half of rows?.. Because space released by two old tuples is enough for one new tuple only. I think tuple tetris did not help here, because rows were moved not two closest together, but randomly, so new tuples could not effectively use space released...

If this assumption is correct, the space your table takes is half empty. Alas it is reserved for future operations. You need vacuum full table_name to basically rebuild it to return space... Or just work with current size, day after day (or even year after year ) the size will drop a bit if you keep on updating, deleting...

  • Decided to dump / truncate / restore due to short maintenance window. Table size was as expected (32 GB) after doing so. Thank you
    – stkxchng
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 9:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.