pgbench - run a benchmark test on PostgreSQL


pgbench -i [ option ...] [ dbname ]

pgbench [ option ...] [ dbname ]


pgbench is a simple program for running benchmark tests on PostgreSQL . It runs the same sequence of SQL commands over and over, possibly in multiple concurrent database sessions, and then calculates the average transaction rate (transactions per second). By default, pgbench tests a scenario that is loosely based on TPC-B, involving five SELECT , UPDATE , and INSERT commands per transaction. However, it is easy to test other cases by writing your own transaction script files.

Typical output from pgbench looks like:

transaction type: 
scaling factor: 10
query mode: simple
number of clients: 10
number of threads: 1
number of transactions per client: 1000
number of transactions actually processed: 10000/10000
tps = 85.184871 (including connections establishing)
tps = 85.296346 (excluding connections establishing)

The first six lines report some of the most important parameter settings. The next line reports the number of transactions completed and intended (the latter being just the product of number of clients and number of transactions per client); these will be equal unless the run failed before completion. (In -T mode, only the actual number of transactions is printed.) The last two lines report the number of transactions per second, figured with and without counting the time to start database sessions.

The default TPC-B-like transaction test requires specific tables to be set up beforehand. pgbench should be invoked with the -i (initialize) option to create and populate these tables. (When you are testing a custom script, you don't need this step, but will instead need to do whatever setup your test needs.) Initialization looks like:

pgbench -i [ other-options ] dbname

where dbname is the name of the already-created database to test in. (You may also need -h , -p , and/or -U options to specify how to connect to the database server.)


pgbench -i creates four tables pgbench_accounts , pgbench_branches , pgbench_history , and pgbench_tellers , destroying any existing tables of these names. Be very careful to use another database if you have tables having these names!

At the default " scale factor " of 1, the tables initially contain this many rows:

table                   # of rows
pgbench_branches        1
pgbench_tellers         10
pgbench_accounts        100000
pgbench_history         0

You can (and, for most purposes, probably should) increase the number of rows by using the -s (scale factor) option. The -F (fillfactor) option might also be used at this point.

Once you have done the necessary setup, you can run your benchmark with a command that doesn't include -i , that is

pgbench [ options ] dbname

In nearly all cases, you'll need some options to make a useful test. The most important options are -c (number of clients), -t (number of transactions), -T (time limit), and -f (specify a custom script file). See below for a full list.


The following is divided into three subsections. Different options are used during database initialization and while running benchmarks, but some options are useful in both cases.

Initialization Options

pgbench accepts the following command-line initialization arguments:


Specifies the name of the database to test in. If this is not specified, the environment variable PGDATABASE is used. If that is not set, the user name specified for the connection is used.


Required to invoke initialization mode.

-I init_steps
--init-steps= init_steps

Perform just a selected set of the normal initialization steps. init_steps specifies the initialization steps to be performed, using one character per step. Each step is invoked in the specified order. The default is dtgvp . The available steps are:

d (Drop)

Drop any existing pgbench tables.

t (create Tables)

Create the tables used by the standard pgbench scenario, namely pgbench_accounts , pgbench_branches , pgbench_history , and pgbench_tellers .

g or G (Generate data, client-side or server-side)

Generate data and load it into the standard tables, replacing any data already present.

With g (client-side data generation), data is generated in pgbench client and then sent to the server. This uses the client/server bandwidth extensively through a COPY . Using g causes logging to print one message every 100,000 rows while generating data for the pgbench_accounts table.

With G (server-side data generation), only small queries are sent from the pgbench client and then data is actually generated in the server. No significant bandwidth is required for this variant, but the server will do more work. Using G causes logging not to print any progress message while generating data.

The default initialization behavior uses client-side data generation (equivalent to g ).

v (Vacuum)

Invoke VACUUM on the standard tables.

p (create Primary keys)

Create primary key indexes on the standard tables.

f (create Foreign keys)

Create foreign key constraints between the standard tables. (Note that this step is not performed by default.)

-F fillfactor
--fillfactor= fillfactor

Create the pgbench_accounts , pgbench_tellers and pgbench_branches tables with the given fillfactor. Default is 100.


Perform no vacuuming during initialization. (This option suppresses the v initialization step, even if it was specified in -I .)


Switch logging to quiet mode, producing only one progress message per 5 seconds. The default logging prints one message each 100,000 rows, which often outputs many lines per second (especially on good hardware).

This setting has no effect if G is specified in -I .

-s scale_factor
--scale= scale_factor

Multiply the number of rows generated by the scale factor. For example, -s 100 will create 10,000,000 rows in the pgbench_accounts table. Default is 1. When the scale is 20,000 or larger, the columns used to hold account identifiers ( aid columns) will switch to using larger integers ( bigint ), in order to be big enough to hold the range of account identifiers.


Create foreign key constraints between the standard tables. (This option adds the f step to the initialization step sequence, if it is not already present.)

--index-tablespace= index_tablespace

Create indexes in the specified tablespace, rather than the default tablespace.

--partition-method= NAME

Create a partitioned pgbench_accounts table with NAME method. Expected values are range or hash . This option requires that --partitions is set to non-zero. If unspecified, default is range .

--partitions= NUM

Create a partitioned pgbench_accounts table with NUM partitions of nearly equal size for the scaled number of accounts. Default is 0 , meaning no partitioning.

--tablespace= tablespace

Create tables in the specified tablespace, rather than the default tablespace.


Create all tables as unlogged tables, rather than permanent tables.

Benchmarking Options

pgbench accepts the following command-line benchmarking arguments:

-b scriptname[@weight]
--builtin = scriptname[@weight]

Add the specified built-in script to the list of scripts to be executed. Available built-in scripts are: tpcb-like , simple-update and select-only . Unambiguous prefixes of built-in names are accepted. With the special name list , show the list of built-in scripts and exit immediately.

Optionally, write an integer weight after @ to adjust the probability of selecting this script versus other ones. The default weight is 1. See below for details.

-c clients
--client= clients

Number of clients simulated, that is, number of concurrent database sessions. Default is 1.


Establish a new connection for each transaction, rather than doing it just once per client session. This is useful to measure the connection overhead.


Print debugging output.

-D varname = value
--define= varname = value

Define a variable for use by a custom script (see below). Multiple -D options are allowed.

-f filename[@weight]
--file= filename[@weight]

Add a transaction script read from filename to the list of scripts to be executed.

Optionally, write an integer weight after @ to adjust the probability of selecting this script versus other ones. The default weight is 1. (To use a script file name that includes an @ character, append a weight so that there is no ambiguity, for example filen@me@1 .) See below for details.

-j threads
--jobs= threads

Number of worker threads within pgbench . Using more than one thread can be helpful on multi-CPU machines. Clients are distributed as evenly as possible among available threads. Default is 1.


Write information about each transaction to a log file. See below for details.

-L limit
--latency-limit= limit

Transactions that last more than limit milliseconds are counted and reported separately, as late .

When throttling is used ( --rate=... ), transactions that lag behind schedule by more than limit ms, and thus have no hope of meeting the latency limit, are not sent to the server at all. They are counted and reported separately as skipped .

-M querymode
--protocol= querymode

Protocol to use for submitting queries to the server:

  • simple : use simple query protocol.

  • extended : use extended query protocol.

  • prepared : use extended query protocol with prepared statements.

In the prepared mode, pgbench reuses the parse analysis result starting from the second query iteration, so pgbench runs faster than in other modes.

The default is simple query protocol. (See Chapter 52 for more information.)


Perform no vacuuming before running the test. This option is necessary if you are running a custom test scenario that does not include the standard tables pgbench_accounts , pgbench_branches , pgbench_history , and pgbench_tellers .


Run built-in simple-update script. Shorthand for -b simple-update .

-P sec
--progress= sec

Show progress report every sec seconds. The report includes the time since the beginning of the run, the TPS since the last report, and the transaction latency average and standard deviation since the last report. Under throttling ( -R ), the latency is computed with respect to the transaction scheduled start time, not the actual transaction beginning time, thus it also includes the average schedule lag time.


Report the average per-statement latency (execution time from the perspective of the client) of each command after the benchmark finishes. See below for details.

-R rate
--rate= rate

Execute transactions targeting the specified rate instead of running as fast as possible (the default). The rate is given in transactions per second. If the targeted rate is above the maximum possible rate, the rate limit won't impact the results.

The rate is targeted by starting transactions along a Poisson-distributed schedule time line. The expected start time schedule moves forward based on when the client first started, not when the previous transaction ended. That approach means that when transactions go past their original scheduled end time, it is possible for later ones to catch up again.

When throttling is active, the transaction latency reported at the end of the run is calculated from the scheduled start times, so it includes the time each transaction had to wait for the previous transaction to finish. The wait time is called the schedule lag time, and its average and maximum are also reported separately. The transaction latency with respect to the actual transaction start time, i.e., the time spent executing the transaction in the database, can be computed by subtracting the schedule lag time from the reported latency.

If --latency-limit is used together with --rate , a transaction can lag behind so much that it is already over the latency limit when the previous transaction ends, because the latency is calculated from the scheduled start time. Such transactions are not sent to the server, but are skipped altogether and counted separately.

A high schedule lag time is an indication that the system cannot process transactions at the specified rate, with the chosen number of clients and threads. When the average transaction execution time is longer than the scheduled interval between each transaction, each successive transaction will fall further behind, and the schedule lag time will keep increasing the longer the test run is. When that happens, you will have to reduce the specified transaction rate.

-s scale_factor
--scale= scale_factor

Report the specified scale factor in pgbench 's output. With the built-in tests, this is not necessary; the correct scale factor will be detected by counting the number of rows in the pgbench_branches table. However, when testing only custom benchmarks ( -f option), the scale factor will be reported as 1 unless this option is used.


Run built-in select-only script. Shorthand for -b select-only .

-t transactions
--transactions= transactions

Number of transactions each client runs. Default is 10.

-T seconds
--time= seconds

Run the test for this many seconds, rather than a fixed number of transactions per client. -t and -T are mutually exclusive.


Vacuum all four standard tables before running the test. With neither -n nor -v , pgbench will vacuum the pgbench_tellers and pgbench_branches tables, and will truncate pgbench_history .

--aggregate-interval= seconds

Length of aggregation interval (in seconds). May be used only with -l option. With this option, the log contains per-interval summary data, as described below.

--log-prefix= prefix

Set the filename prefix for the log files created by --log . The default is pgbench_log .


When showing progress (option -P ), use a timestamp (Unix epoch) instead of the number of seconds since the beginning of the run. The unit is in seconds, with millisecond precision after the dot. This helps compare logs generated by various tools.

--random-seed= seed

Set random generator seed. Seeds the system random number generator, which then produces a sequence of initial generator states, one for each thread. Values for seed may be: time (the default, the seed is based on the current time), rand (use a strong random source, failing if none is available), or an unsigned decimal integer value. The random generator is invoked explicitly from a pgbench script ( random... functions) or implicitly (for instance option --rate uses it to schedule transactions). When explicitly set, the value used for seeding is shown on the terminal. Any value allowed for seed may also be provided through the environment variable PGBENCH_RANDOM_SEED . To ensure that the provided seed impacts all possible uses, put this option first or use the environment variable.

Setting the seed explicitly allows to reproduce a pgbench run exactly, as far as random numbers are concerned. As the random state is managed per thread, this means the exact same pgbench run for an identical invocation if there is one client per thread and there are no external or data dependencies. From a statistical viewpoint reproducing runs exactly is a bad idea because it can hide the performance variability or improve performance unduly, e.g., by hitting the same pages as a previous run. However, it may also be of great help for debugging, for instance re-running a tricky case which leads to an error. Use wisely.

--sampling-rate= rate

Sampling rate, used when writing data into the log, to reduce the amount of log generated. If this option is given, only the specified fraction of transactions are logged. 1.0 means all transactions will be logged, 0.05 means only 5% of the transactions will be logged.

Remember to take the sampling rate into account when processing the log file. For example, when computing TPS values, you need to multiply the numbers accordingly (e.g., with 0.01 sample rate, you'll only get 1/100 of the actual TPS).

--show-script= scriptname

Show the actual code of builtin script scriptname on stderr, and exit immediately.

Common Options

pgbench also accepts the following common command-line arguments for connection parameters:

-h hostname
--host= hostname

The database server's host name

-p port
--port= port

The database server's port number

-U login
--username= login

The user name to connect as


Print the pgbench version and exit.


Show help about pgbench command line arguments, and exit.

Exit Status

A successful run will exit with status 0. Exit status 1 indicates static problems such as invalid command-line options. Errors during the run such as database errors or problems in the script will result in exit status 2. In the latter case, pgbench will print partial results.



Default connection parameters.

This utility, like most other PostgreSQL utilities, uses the environment variables supported by libpq (see Section 33.14 ).

The environment variable PG_COLOR specifies whether to use color in diagnostic messages. Possible values are always , auto and never .


What Is the " Transaction " Actually Performed in pgbench ?

pgbench executes test scripts chosen randomly from a specified list. The scripts may include built-in scripts specified with -b and user-provided scripts specified with -f . Each script may be given a relative weight specified after an @ so as to change its selection probability. The default weight is 1 . Scripts with a weight of 0 are ignored.

The default built-in transaction script (also invoked with -b tpcb-like ) issues seven commands per transaction over randomly chosen aid , tid , bid and delta . The scenario is inspired by the TPC-B benchmark, but is not actually TPC-B, hence the name.

  1. BEGIN;

  2. UPDATE pgbench_accounts SET abalance = abalance + :delta WHERE aid = :aid;

  3. SELECT abalance FROM pgbench_accounts WHERE aid = :aid;

  4. UPDATE pgbench_tellers SET tbalance = tbalance + :delta WHERE tid = :tid;

  5. UPDATE pgbench_branches SET bbalance = bbalance + :delta WHERE bid = :bid;

  6. INSERT INTO pgbench_history (tid, bid, aid, delta, mtime) VALUES (:tid, :bid, :aid, :delta, CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);

  7. END;

If you select the simple-update built-in (also -N ), steps 4 and 5 aren't included in the transaction. This will avoid update contention on these tables, but it makes the test case even less like TPC-B.

If you select the select-only built-in (also -S ), only the SELECT is issued.

Custom Scripts

pgbench has support for running custom benchmark scenarios by replacing the default transaction script (described above) with a transaction script read from a file ( -f option). In this case a " transaction " counts as one execution of a script file.

A script file contains one or more SQL commands terminated by semicolons. Empty lines and lines beginning with -- are ignored. Script files can also contain " meta commands " , which are interpreted by pgbench itself, as described below.


Before PostgreSQL 9.6, SQL commands in script files were terminated by newlines, and so they could not be continued across lines. Now a semicolon is required to separate consecutive SQL commands (though a SQL command does not need one if it is followed by a meta command). If you need to create a script file that works with both old and new versions of pgbench , be sure to write each SQL command on a single line ending with a semicolon.

There is a simple variable-substitution facility for script files. Variable names must consist of letters (including non-Latin letters), digits, and underscores, with the first character not being a digit. Variables can be set by the command-line -D option, explained above, or by the meta commands explained below. In addition to any variables preset by -D command-line options, there are a few variables that are preset automatically, listed in Table 273 . A value specified for these variables using -D takes precedence over the automatic presets. Once set, a variable's value can be inserted into a SQL command by writing : variablename . When running more than one client session, each session has its own set of variables. pgbench supports up to 255 variable uses in one statement.

Table 273. pgbench Automatic Variables

Variable Description
client_id unique number identifying the client session (starts from zero)
default_seed seed used in hash functions by default
random_seed random generator seed (unless overwritten with -D )
scale current scale factor

Script file meta commands begin with a backslash ( \ ) and normally extend to the end of the line, although they can be continued to additional lines by writing backslash-return. Arguments to a meta command are separated by white space. These meta commands are supported:

\gset [ prefix ] \aset [ prefix ]

These commands may be used to end SQL queries, taking the place of the terminating semicolon ( ; ).

When the \gset command is used, the preceding SQL query is expected to return one row, the columns of which are stored into variables named after column names, and prefixed with prefix if provided.

When the \aset command is used, all combined SQL queries (separated by \; ) have their columns stored into variables named after column names, and prefixed with prefix if provided. If a query returns no row, no assignment is made and the variable can be tested for existence to detect this. If a query returns more than one row, the last value is kept.

The following example puts the final account balance from the first query into variable abalance , and fills variables p_two and p_three with integers from the third query. The result of the second query is discarded. The result of the two last combined queries are stored in variables four and five .

UPDATE pgbench_accounts
  SET abalance = abalance + :delta
  WHERE aid = :aid
  RETURNING abalance \gset
-- compound of two queries
SELECT 2 AS two, 3 AS three \gset p_
SELECT 4 AS four \; SELECT 5 AS five \aset
\if expression
\elif expression

This group of commands implements nestable conditional blocks, similarly to psql 's \if expression . Conditional expressions are identical to those with \set , with non-zero values interpreted as true.

\set varname expression

Sets variable varname to a value calculated from expression . The expression may contain the NULL constant, Boolean constants TRUE and FALSE , integer constants such as 5432 , double constants such as 3.14159 , references to variables : variablename , operators with their usual SQL precedence and associativity, function calls , SQL CASE generic conditional expressions and parentheses.

Functions and most operators return NULL on NULL input.

For conditional purposes, non zero numerical values are TRUE , zero numerical values and NULL are FALSE .

Too large or small integer and double constants, as well as integer arithmetic operators ( + , - , * and / ) raise errors on overflows.

When no final ELSE clause is provided to a CASE , the default value is NULL .


\set ntellers 10 * :scale
\set aid (1021 * random(1, 100000 * :scale)) % \
           (100000 * :scale) + 1
\set divx CASE WHEN :x <> 0 THEN :y/:x ELSE NULL END
\sleep number [ us | ms | s ]

Causes script execution to sleep for the specified duration in microseconds ( us ), milliseconds ( ms ) or seconds ( s ). If the unit is omitted then seconds are the default. number can be either an integer constant or a : variablename reference to a variable having an integer value.


\sleep 10 ms
\setshell varname command [ argument ... ]

Sets variable varname to the result of the shell command command with the given argument (s). The command must return an integer value through its standard output.

command and each argument can be either a text constant or a : variablename reference to a variable. If you want to use an argument starting with a colon, write an additional colon at the beginning of argument .


\setshell variable_to_be_assigned command literal_argument :variable ::literal_starting_with_colon
\shell command [ argument ... ]

Same as \setshell , but the result of the command is discarded.


\shell command literal_argument :variable ::literal_starting_with_colon

Built-in Operators

The arithmetic, bitwise, comparison and logical operators listed in Table 274 are built into pgbench and may be used in expressions appearing in \set . The operators are listed in increasing precedence order. Except as noted, operators taking two numeric inputs will produce a double value if either input is double, otherwise they produce an integer result.

Table 274. pgbench Operators




boolean OR boolean boolean

Logical OR

5 or 0 TRUE

boolean AND boolean boolean

Logical AND

3 and 0 FALSE

NOT boolean boolean

Logical NOT

not false TRUE

boolean IS [NOT] (NULL|TRUE|FALSE) boolean

Boolean value tests

1 is null FALSE

value ISNULL|NOTNULL boolean

Nullness tests

1 notnull TRUE

number = number boolean


5 = 4 FALSE

number <> number boolean

Not equal

5 <> 4 TRUE

number != number boolean

Not equal

5 != 5 FALSE

number < number boolean

Less than

5 < 4 FALSE

number <= number boolean

Less than or equal to

5 <= 4 FALSE

number > number boolean

Greater than

5 > 4 TRUE

number >= number boolean

Greater than or equal to

5 >= 4 TRUE

integer | integer integer

Bitwise OR

1 | 2 3

integer # integer integer

Bitwise XOR

1 # 3 2

integer & integer integer

Bitwise AND

1 & 3 1

~ integer integer

Bitwise NOT

~ 1 -2

integer << integer integer

Bitwise shift left

1 << 2 4

integer >> integer integer

Bitwise shift right

8 >> 2 2

number + number number


5 + 4 9

number - number number


3 - 2.0 1.0

number * number number


5 * 4 20

number / number number

Division (truncates the result towards zero if both inputs are integers)

5 / 3 1

integer % integer integer

Modulo (remainder)

3 % 2 1

- number number


- 2.0 -2.0

Built-In Functions

The functions listed in Table 275 are built into pgbench and may be used in expressions appearing in \set .

Table 275. pgbench Functions




abs ( number ) → same type as input

Absolute value

abs(-17) 17

debug ( number ) → same type as input

Prints the argument to stderr , and returns the argument.

debug(5432.1) 5432.1

double ( number ) → double

Casts to double.

double(5432) 5432.0

exp ( number ) → double

Exponential ( e raised to the given power)

exp(1.0) 2.718281828459045

greatest ( number [ , ... ] ) → double if any argument is double, else integer

Selects the largest value among the arguments.

greatest(5, 4, 3, 2) 5

hash ( value [ , seed ] ) → integer

This is an alias for hash_murmur2 .

hash(10, 5432) -5817877081768721676

hash_fnv1a ( value [ , seed ] ) → integer

Computes FNV-1a hash .

hash_fnv1a(10, 5432) -7793829335365542153

hash_murmur2 ( value [ , seed ] ) → integer

Computes MurmurHash2 hash .

hash_murmur2(10, 5432) -5817877081768721676

int ( number ) → integer

Casts to integer.

int(5.4 + 3.8) 9

least ( number [ , ... ] ) → double if any argument is double, else integer

Selects the smallest value among the arguments.

least(5, 4, 3, 2.1) 2.1

ln ( number ) → double

Natural logarithm

ln(2.718281828459045) 1.0

mod ( integer , integer ) → integer

Modulo (remainder)

mod(54, 32) 22

pi () → double

Approximate value of π

pi() 3.14159265358979323846

pow ( x , y ) → double

power ( x , y ) → double

x raised to the power of y

pow(2.0, 10) 1024.0

random ( lb , ub ) → integer

Computes a uniformly-distributed random integer in [lb, ub] .

random(1, 10) an integer between 1 and 10

random_exponential ( lb , ub , parameter ) → integer

Computes an exponentially-distributed random integer in [lb, ub] , see below.

random_exponential(1, 10, 3.0) an integer between 1 and 10

random_gaussian ( lb , ub , parameter ) → integer

Computes a Gaussian-distributed random integer in [lb, ub] , see below.

random_gaussian(1, 10, 2.5) an integer between 1 and 10

random_zipfian ( lb , ub , parameter ) → integer

Computes a Zipfian-distributed random integer in [lb, ub] , see below.

random_zipfian(1, 10, 1.5) an integer between 1 and 10

sqrt ( number ) → double

Square root

sqrt(2.0) 1.414213562

The random function generates values using a uniform distribution, that is all the values are drawn within the specified range with equal probability. The random_exponential , random_gaussian and random_zipfian functions require an additional double parameter which determines the precise shape of the distribution.

  • For an exponential distribution, parameter controls the distribution by truncating a quickly-decreasing exponential distribution at parameter , and then projecting onto integers between the bounds. To be precise, with

    f(x) = exp(-parameter * (x - min) / (max - min + 1)) / (1 - exp(-parameter))

    Then value i between min and max inclusive is drawn with probability: f(i) - f(i + 1) .

    Intuitively, the larger the parameter , the more frequently values close to min are accessed, and the less frequently values close to max are accessed. The closer to 0 parameter is, the flatter (more uniform) the access distribution. A crude approximation of the distribution is that the most frequent 1% values in the range, close to min , are drawn parameter % of the time. The parameter value must be strictly positive.

  • For a Gaussian distribution, the interval is mapped onto a standard normal distribution (the classical bell-shaped Gaussian curve) truncated at -parameter on the left and +parameter on the right. Values in the middle of the interval are more likely to be drawn. To be precise, if PHI(x) is the cumulative distribution function of the standard normal distribution, with mean mu defined as (max + min) / 2.0 , with

    f(x) = PHI(2.0 * parameter * (x - mu) / (max - min + 1)) /
    (2.0 * PHI(parameter) - 1)

    then value i between min and max inclusive is drawn with probability: f(i + 0.5) - f(i - 0.5) . Intuitively, the larger the parameter , the more frequently values close to the middle of the interval are drawn, and the less frequently values close to the min and max bounds. About 67% of values are drawn from the middle 1.0 / parameter , that is a relative 0.5 / parameter around the mean, and 95% in the middle 2.0 / parameter , that is a relative 1.0 / parameter around the mean; for instance, if parameter is 4.0, 67% of values are drawn from the middle quarter (1.0 / 4.0) of the interval (i.e., from 3.0 / 8.0 to 5.0 / 8.0 ) and 95% from the middle half ( 2.0 / 4.0 ) of the interval (second and third quartiles). The minimum allowed parameter value is 2.0.

  • random_zipfian generates a bounded Zipfian distribution. parameter defines how skewed the distribution is. The larger the parameter , the more frequently values closer to the beginning of the interval are drawn. The distribution is such that, assuming the range starts from 1, the ratio of the probability of drawing k versus drawing k+1 is (( k +1)/ k )** parameter . For example, random_zipfian(1, ..., 2.5) produces the value 1 about (2/1)**2.5 = 5.66 times more frequently than 2 , which itself is produced (3/2)**2.5 = 2.76 times more frequently than 3 , and so on.

    pgbench 's implementation is based on "Non-Uniform Random Variate Generation", Luc Devroye, p. 550-551, Springer 1986. Due to limitations of that algorithm, the parameter value is restricted to the range [1.001, 1000].

Hash functions hash , hash_murmur2 and hash_fnv1a accept an input value and an optional seed parameter. In case the seed isn't provided the value of :default_seed is used, which is initialized randomly unless set by the command-line -D option. Hash functions can be used to scatter the distribution of random functions such as random_zipfian or random_exponential . For instance, the following pgbench script simulates possible real world workload typical for social media and blogging platforms where few accounts generate excessive load:

\set r random_zipfian(0, 100000000, 1.07)
\set k abs(hash(:r)) % 1000000

In some cases several distinct distributions are needed which don't correlate with each other and this is when implicit seed parameter comes in handy:

\set k1 abs(hash(:r, :default_seed + 123)) % 1000000
\set k2 abs(hash(:r, :default_seed + 321)) % 1000000

As an example, the full definition of the built-in TPC-B-like transaction is:

\set aid random(1, 100000 * :scale)
\set bid random(1, 1 * :scale)
\set tid random(1, 10 * :scale)
\set delta random(-5000, 5000)
UPDATE pgbench_accounts SET abalance = abalance + :delta WHERE aid = :aid;
SELECT abalance FROM pgbench_accounts WHERE aid = :aid;
UPDATE pgbench_tellers SET tbalance = tbalance + :delta WHERE tid = :tid;
UPDATE pgbench_branches SET bbalance = bbalance + :delta WHERE bid = :bid;
INSERT INTO pgbench_history (tid, bid, aid, delta, mtime) VALUES (:tid, :bid, :aid, :delta, CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);

This script allows each iteration of the transaction to reference different, randomly-chosen rows. (This example also shows why it's important for each client session to have its own variables - otherwise they'd not be independently touching different rows.)

Per-Transaction Logging

With the -l option (but without the --aggregate-interval option), pgbench writes information about each transaction to a log file. The log file will be named prefix . nnn , where prefix defaults to pgbench_log , and nnn is the PID of the pgbench process. The prefix can be changed by using the --log-prefix option. If the -j option is 2 or higher, so that there are multiple worker threads, each will have its own log file. The first worker will use the same name for its log file as in the standard single worker case. The additional log files for the other workers will be named prefix . nnn . mmm , where mmm is a sequential number for each worker starting with 1.

The format of the log is:

client_id transaction_no time script_no time_epoch time_us [ schedule_lag ]

where client_id indicates which client session ran the transaction, transaction_no counts how many transactions have been run by that session, time is the total elapsed transaction time in microseconds, script_no identifies which script file was used (useful when multiple scripts were specified with -f or -b ), and time_epoch / time_us are a Unix-epoch time stamp and an offset in microseconds (suitable for creating an ISO 8601 time stamp with fractional seconds) showing when the transaction completed. The schedule_lag field is the difference between the transaction's scheduled start time, and the time it actually started, in microseconds. It is only present when the --rate option is used. When both --rate and --latency-limit are used, the time for a skipped transaction will be reported as skipped .

Here is a snippet of a log file generated in a single-client run:

0 199 2241 0 1175850568 995598
0 200 2465 0 1175850568 998079
0 201 2513 0 1175850569 608
0 202 2038 0 1175850569 2663

Another example with --rate=100 and --latency-limit=5 (note the additional schedule_lag column):

0 81 4621 0 1412881037 912698 3005
0 82 6173 0 1412881037 914578 4304
0 83 skipped 0 1412881037 914578 5217
0 83 skipped 0 1412881037 914578 5099
0 83 4722 0 1412881037 916203 3108
0 84 4142 0 1412881037 918023 2333
0 85 2465 0 1412881037 919759 740

In this example, transaction 82 was late, because its latency (6.173 ms) was over the 5 ms limit. The next two transactions were skipped, because they were already late before they were even started.

When running a long test on hardware that can handle a lot of transactions, the log files can become very large. The --sampling-rate option can be used to log only a random sample of transactions.

Aggregated Logging

With the --aggregate-interval option, a different format is used for the log files:

interval_start num_transactions  sum_latency sum_latency_2 min_latency max_latency  [ sum_lag sum_lag_2 min_lag max_lag [ skipped ] ]

where interval_start is the start of the interval (as a Unix epoch time stamp), num_transactions is the number of transactions within the interval, sum_latency is the sum of the transaction latencies within the interval, sum_latency_2 is the sum of squares of the transaction latencies within the interval, min_latency is the minimum latency within the interval, and max_latency is the maximum latency within the interval. The next fields, sum_lag , sum_lag_2 , min_lag , and max_lag , are only present if the --rate option is used. They provide statistics about the time each transaction had to wait for the previous one to finish, i.e., the difference between each transaction's scheduled start time and the time it actually started. The very last field, skipped , is only present if the --latency-limit option is used, too. It counts the number of transactions skipped because they would have started too late. Each transaction is counted in the interval when it was committed.

Here is some example output:

1345828501 5601 1542744 483552416 61 2573
1345828503 7884 1979812 565806736 60 1479
1345828505 7208 1979422 567277552 59 1391
1345828507 7685 1980268 569784714 60 1398
1345828509 7073 1979779 573489941 236 1411

Notice that while the plain (unaggregated) log file shows which script was used for each transaction, the aggregated log does not. Therefore if you need per-script data, you need to aggregate the data on your own.

Per-Statement Latencies

With the -r option, pgbench collects the elapsed transaction time of each statement executed by every client. It then reports an average of those values, referred to as the latency for each statement, after the benchmark has finished.

For the default script, the output will look similar to this:

starting vacuum...end.
transaction type: 
scaling factor: 1
query mode: simple
number of clients: 10
number of threads: 1
number of transactions per client: 1000
number of transactions actually processed: 10000/10000
latency average = 15.844 ms
latency stddev = 2.715 ms
tps = 618.764555 (including connections establishing)
tps = 622.977698 (excluding connections establishing)
statement latencies in milliseconds:
        0.002  \set aid random(1, 100000 * :scale)
        0.005  \set bid random(1, 1 * :scale)
        0.002  \set tid random(1, 10 * :scale)
        0.001  \set delta random(-5000, 5000)
        0.326  BEGIN;
        0.603  UPDATE pgbench_accounts SET abalance = abalance + :delta WHERE aid = :aid;
        0.454  SELECT abalance FROM pgbench_accounts WHERE aid = :aid;
        5.528  UPDATE pgbench_tellers SET tbalance = tbalance + :delta WHERE tid = :tid;
        7.335  UPDATE pgbench_branches SET bbalance = bbalance + :delta WHERE bid = :bid;
        0.371  INSERT INTO pgbench_history (tid, bid, aid, delta, mtime) VALUES (:tid, :bid, :aid, :delta, CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);
        1.212  END;

If multiple script files are specified, the averages are reported separately for each script file.

Note that collecting the additional timing information needed for per-statement latency computation adds some overhead. This will slow average execution speed and lower the computed TPS. The amount of slowdown varies significantly depending on platform and hardware. Comparing average TPS values with and without latency reporting enabled is a good way to measure if the timing overhead is significant.

Good Practices

It is very easy to use pgbench to produce completely meaningless numbers. Here are some guidelines to help you get useful results.

In the first place, never believe any test that runs for only a few seconds. Use the -t or -T option to make the run last at least a few minutes, so as to average out noise. In some cases you could need hours to get numbers that are reproducible. It's a good idea to try the test run a few times, to find out if your numbers are reproducible or not.

For the default TPC-B-like test scenario, the initialization scale factor ( -s ) should be at least as large as the largest number of clients you intend to test ( -c ); else you'll mostly be measuring update contention. There are only -s rows in the pgbench_branches table, and every transaction wants to update one of them, so -c values in excess of -s will undoubtedly result in lots of transactions blocked waiting for other transactions.

The default test scenario is also quite sensitive to how long it's been since the tables were initialized: accumulation of dead rows and dead space in the tables changes the results. To understand the results you must keep track of the total number of updates and when vacuuming happens. If autovacuum is enabled it can result in unpredictable changes in measured performance.

A limitation of pgbench is that it can itself become the bottleneck when trying to test a large number of client sessions. This can be alleviated by running pgbench on a different machine from the database server, although low network latency will be essential. It might even be useful to run several pgbench instances concurrently, on several client machines, against the same database server.


If untrusted users have access to a database that has not adopted a secure schema usage pattern , do not run pgbench in that database. pgbench uses unqualified names and does not manipulate the search path.