I am trying to run following command:

sshpass  -p "pass" ssh  x@ "pg_dump -Fc -U foo some_db" | pg_restore --create --dbname=new_db

I get:

failed: FATAL:  database "new_db" does not exist

This is because it is the way pg_restore works.

pg_restore manual reads as follow :

-C, --create Create the database before restoring into it. If --clean is also specified, drop and recreate the target database before connecting to it.

When this option is used, the database named with -d is used only to issue the initial DROP DATABASE and CREATE DATABASE commands. All data is restored into the database name that appears in the archive.

The -d will restore in the given database if and only if -C is not used. If -C is used, the database is used as a "launchpad", not as the destination.

  • 11
    To clarify: there's no way to create an arbitrary database name and restore into it with pg_restore. The -C option can only create a database whose name matches the database name in the dump file. To restore to an arbitrary database, you have to run CREATE DATABASE new_db; in psql before you run pg_restore --dbname=new_db. – Luke Jun 20 '17 at 0:56
  • my command docker-compose -p dump_import -f docker/dump_import.yml run --rm be bash -c 'waitforit -host=postgres -port=5432 -timeout=30 && export PGPASSWORD=$DATABASE_PASSWORD && createdb --echo --port=$DATABASE_PORT -host=$DATABASE_HOST --username=$DATABASE_USER $DATABASE_NAME && pg_restore --format=c --dbname=$DATABASE_URL_WITHOUT_QUERY tmp/full.dump && echo "Import done"' – srghma May 1 '18 at 8:56
  • 12
    Why do tools have to be confusing when they could be easy? – Augustin Riedinger May 16 '19 at 15:24

In short, you want either (clean existing): (note the database name is postgres)

pg_restore -c -d postgres db.dump

or (create new)

pg_restore -C -d postgres db.dump

or (create new explicitly)

createdatabase the_database
pg_restore -d the_database db.dump

See what SCO said for more details.

  • Your first suggestion didn't work on 9.1: pg_restore: [archiver] -C and -c are incompatible options – peetasan Jan 18 '17 at 15:49
  • 1
    I can confirm that this works (after the edit, and after fixing the misspelling of "postgres"). pg_restore -C -d postgres db.dump may look scary, but it does nothing to the postgres database, it only uses it for the initial connection. – Zilk Mar 16 '19 at 14:37

To be a bit more explicit, this is what I did that solved the problem for me:

  1. Create an empty database with the name you want: (in my case the username was 'postgres')

    psql -U [username]

It will then prompt you for your password. At this point you will be logged in as [username]. Type the following:

    CREATE DATABASE [dbname];

Now exit the session and go back to your regular terminal session.

  1. Restore the database from the file you have setting the target database name as that database name you just created.

    cat [your_file_path/filename] | psql -U [username] [dbname]

Where [your_file_path/filename] is the location of the db file or text file you want to restore.

  • When creating the backup using de -F option you have to use pg_restore to restore the backup unless you use -F p which produces a plain text file with sql sentences. – EAmez Sep 9 '19 at 9:25

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