I ran vacuum full analyze, but it took too long and it was using 100% of RAM, so I killed it. Now, Postgres won't start. I got:

 * Starting PostgreSQL 14 database server                                                                                            
 * Error: /usr/lib/postgresql/14/bin/pg_ctl /usr/lib/postgresql/14/bin/pg_ctl start -D /var/lib/postgresql/14/main -l /var/log/postgresql/postgresql-14-main.log -s -o  -c config_file="/etc/postgresql/14/main/postgresql.conf"  exited with status 1:
2022-03-15 22:51:01.259 PDT [915] LOG:  starting PostgreSQL 14.2 (Ubuntu 14.2-1.pgdg20.04+1) on x86_64-pc-linux-gnu, compiled by gcc 
(Ubuntu 9.3.0-17ubuntu1~20.04) 9.3.0, 64-bit
2022-03-15 22:51:01.259 PDT [915] LOG:  listening on IPv4 address "", port 5432
2022-03-15 22:51:01.259 PDT [915] LOG:  listening on IPv6 address "::", port 5432
2022-03-15 22:51:01.263 PDT [915] LOG:  listening on Unix socket "/var/run/postgresql/.s.PGSQL.5432"
2022-03-15 22:51:01.271 PDT [916] LOG:  database system was interrupted while in recovery at 2022-03-15 21:52:50 PDT
2022-03-15 22:51:01.271 PDT [916] HINT:  This probably means that some data is corrupted and you will have to use the last backup for recovery.
2022-03-15 22:51:02.578 PDT [917] postgres@foo FATAL:  the database system is starting up
2022-03-15 22:51:02.595 PDT [918] postgres@foo FATAL:  the database system is starting up
2022-03-15 22:51:02.612 PDT [919] postgres@foo FATAL:  the database system is starting up
2022-03-15 22:51:02.641 PDT [920] postgres@foo FATAL:  the database system is starting up
2022-03-15 22:51:02.656 PDT [921] postgres@foo FATAL:  the database system is starting up
2022-03-15 22:51:02.683 PDT [922] postgres@foo FATAL:  the database system is starting up
2022-03-15 22:51:03.570 PDT [916] LOG:  database system was not properly shut down; automatic recovery in progress
2022-03-15 22:51:03.573 PDT [916] LOG:  redo starts at 36/21030540
2022-03-15 22:51:04.368 PDT [916] LOG:  redo done at 36/2EFFF1D8 system usage: CPU: user: 0.40 s, system: 0.38 s, elapsed: 0.79 s    
2022-03-15 22:51:04.376 PDT [916] PANIC:  could not write to file "pg_wal/xlogtemp.916": No space left on device
2022-03-15 22:51:04.378 PDT [915] LOG:  startup process (PID 916) was terminated by signal 6: Aborted
2022-03-15 22:51:04.378 PDT [915] LOG:  aborting startup due to startup process failure
2022-03-15 22:51:04.386 PDT [915] LOG:  database system is shut down
pg_ctl: could not start server
Examine the log output.

The database is pretty small, it shouldn't be running out of disk space, so vacuum full analyze must've created a lot of junk files. What's the proper way to fix this? I can't figure out how to use pg_archivecleanup, I can't find the archive directory, /var/lib/postgresql/14/main/pg_xlog doesn't exist. Here's everything in the folder:

sudo ls /var/lib/postgresql/14/main/
PG_VERSION  pg_commit_ts  pg_multixact  pg_serial     pg_stat_tmp  pg_twophase postgresql.auto.conf
base        pg_dynshmem   pg_notify     pg_snapshots  pg_subtrans  pg_wal      postmaster.opts
global      pg_logical    pg_replslot   pg_stat       pg_tblspc    pg_xact

This is a dev database, so in the worst case I can just delete everything. However, in case this happens in production, I'd like to know how else I can fix it.

OS: Ubuntu 20 on WSL

  • 1
    pg_xlog directory is no more since Postgresql 10. It is renamed to pg_wal.
    – Sahap Asci
    Mar 16, 2022 at 6:46

2 Answers 2


You are clearly out of disk space for pg_wal.

The way to recover:

  1. increase the size of the disk (do not remove files)

  2. start PostgreSQL

  3. pg_dumpall the cluster

  4. stop the PostgreSQL server and remove the data directory (saving configuration files)

  5. create a new cluster with initdb, add the configuration and start it

  6. restore the dump taken in step 3

This will get rid of wll the files left behind from the crash.

Next time, don't run VACUUM (FULL) unless you have a clear indication that it is indicated, and in particular don't run it on all tables in your database, but only those that really need it.

Note: to gather statistics, run ANALYZE. And VACUUM (FULL) is not a better version of VACUUM, it is something quite different.


Look for enough files to delete or move elsewhere so that the system has enough room to start up. Once it survives long enough to start up and checkpoint, it might clean up even more space on its own. In the listing you show, I don't see a human readable log file directory (named 'log' by default in recent versions, 'pg_log' in older ones). That is often the best candidate to relocate. So next, how about other files elsewhere on the same partition, but outside the PostgreSQL data directory?

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