(( edit after answer: this is a typical XY question/problem, there are no restriction on use absolute path, on PostgreSQL's FileSystem functions. As @LaurenzAlbe comment, "just try". ))

I need to export/import JSON files, CSV files, XML, GeoJSON, etc. Example:

SELECT pg_catalog.pg_file_write(

All are temporary (exists in a BEGIN/COMMIT), but no problem?

  1. no risk on filename conflict? (e.g. my filename and a pgsql's managed temporary table filename)

  2. no risk of directory (base) volume overflow? (e.g. when I save a big file there)

  3. no risk on read-and-write sequences over same filename? They will be synchronous on BEGIN/COMMIT sections?


Sometimes we can say that "database servers aren't designed for general file I/O" (ref), but sometimes we need it (!), to simplify and automatize ETL or interface procedures.

About item 1 and the practical use, to simplify export/import procedures (and not need to remember where is data_directory), is perhaps better to create a ${data_directory}/base/pgsql_tmp/MyArea as symbolic link to other area (e. eg. /tmp/MyRealArea).

1 Answer 1


Question 1:

It is a bad idea to create these files in the PostgreSQL data directory. That is for database files only. In addition, you cannot be certain that pgsql_tmp is there at all (it is only created when the first temporary file is written).

Use an absolute path and write the file somewhere else, ideally in /var.

Question 2

Of course there is a risk to fill up the file system - either through the files that you write, or through temporary files that the database writes.

Question 3

That is up to your code; the database does not guarantee that you don't write over the same file in two concurrent transactions.

  • Hi Laurenz, thanks! About your "use an absolute ... /var ..." suggestion, seems impossible, pg_catalog.pg_file_write() only writes at $data_directory. Apr 1, 2020 at 14:38
  • 1
    I just tried it and it works fine. Of course the PostgreSQL operating system user (typically postgres) must have write permissions on the directory. Apr 1, 2020 at 14:55

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