PostgreSQL has one serious weakness – it crashes when some of filesystems it uses if full. Plus PostgreSQL is unable to check if such problem is comming. It simply crashes with error like this:

PANIC:  could not write to file "pg_xlog/xlogtemp.1752": No space left on device

For example MySQL is able to survive such a situation – it is able to block sessions which cannot write to disk due to not enough free disk space.

In case of PostgreSQL we have so far (PG 10) only 2 possibilities:

  1. either let PostgreSQL crash (and risk data damage – which is very likely to happen)
  2. or implement some solution which will check remaining empty space on disks and force emergency stop of PostgreSQL if it reaches some limit (otherwise PostgreSQL will crash anyway)

Here is one simple solution which could inspire you – bash script which is able to check remaining empty space on all filesystems PostgreSQL uses (main directory, pg_xlog/ pg_wal, tablspaces) – all of them are checked because some installation can have very complicated architecture. Directories can be on different filesystems accessed through soft links.

Script has two different levels of checks – warning and stop. If warning limit is reached then e-mail warning is send. If stop limit is reached then PostgreSQL is stopped using pg_ctl command.

It requires to set ENV variables in external file which is sourced at the beginning of the script. It sends e-mail too in case of stopping PostgreSQL. It uses gmail account and it is tailored for our enviromnent but it can be modified in simple way.


if [ "$dryrun" != "0" ]; then

function echo_log {
  echo "$(date +"%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S.%N"): $1"

if [ "$EUID" -ne 0 ]; then
  echo_log "Please run this script as root"
  exit 1

homedir=$( dirname "${BASH_SOURCE[0]}")
cd $homedir
. ./.pg_env

# content of .pg_env
# export PGCTL_CMD=... - full path to pg_ctl file - like /usr/lib/postgresql/9.6/bin/pg_ctl
# export PG_PORT=... - pg port - like 5432
# export PG_CHECK_WARNING_LIMIT=... - space limit for e-mail warning - size in bytes - like 10737418240 (=10GB)
# export PG_CHECK_STOP_LIMIT=... - space limit in bytes for issuing emergency stop of PG - like 1073741824 (=1GB)
# export
# export GMAIL_PASSWORD=...
# export TARGET_EMAILS=... list of emails, delimited with ","

[ -z "$PGCTL_CMD" ] && echo_log "$(basename $0): ERROR: variable PGCTL_CMD empty or undefined" && exit 1
[ -z "$PG_PORT" ] && echo_log "$(basename $0): ERROR: variable PG_PORT empty or undefined" && exit 1
[ -z "$PG_CHECK_WARNING_LIMIT" ] && echo_log "$(basename $0): ERROR: variable PG_CHECK_WARNING_LIMIT empty or undefined" && exit 1
[ -z "$PG_CHECK_STOP_LIMIT" ] && echo_log "$(basename $0): ERROR: variable PG_CHECK_STOP_LIMIT empty or undefined" && exit 1
[ -z "$GMAIL_ACCOUNT" ] && echo_log "$(basename $0): ERROR: variable GMAIL_ACCOUNT empty or undefined" && exit 1
[ -z "$GMAIL_PASSWORD" ] && echo_log "$(basename $0): ERROR: variable GMAIL_PASSWORD empty or undefined" && exit 1
[ -z "$TARGET_EMAILS" ] && echo_log "$(basename $0): ERROR: variable TARGET_EMAILS empty or undefined" && exit 1

let warninglimitkb=${PG_CHECK_WARNING_LIMIT}/1024
let stoplimitkb=${PG_CHECK_STOP_LIMIT}/1024

  echo_log "ERROR: warning limit must be bigger then stop limit"
  exit 1

pgctlpath=$(command -v ${PGCTL_CMD})
if [ -z "${pgctlpath}" ]; then
  echo_log "ERROR: cannot find pg_ctl utility"
  exit 1

function send_email {
  sendemail -m "${mtext}" -f "${GMAIL_ACCOUNT}" -u "${msubject}" -t ${TARGET_EMAILS} -s -xu "${GMAIL_ACCOUNT}" -xp ${GMAIL_PASSWORD} -o tls=yes

function get_free_space {
  dirfull=$(readlink -m ${dirsrc})
  if [ -d ${dirfull} ]; then
    dirfree=$(df -k --output=avail ${dirfull}|tail -n1)
    echo_log "checking: ${dirfull} - free space: ${dirfree} KB, warning limit: ${warninglimitkb} KB, stop limit: ${stoplimitkb} KB"
    mail_text="Emergency check of PostgreSQL\n\nDate: $(date +"%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S.%N")\nInstance: ${instance}\nDirectory: ${dirfull}\nWarning limit: ${warninglimitkb} KB\nStop limit: ${stoplimitkb} KB\nAvailable space: ${dirfree} KB"

    ## stop limit
    if [[ ${dirfree} -lt ${stoplimitkb} ]]; then
      echo_log "NOT enough space on filesystem - issuing emergency stop of postgresql!"
      if [[ "${pgctlpath}" != "" && "${pgdatadirsrc}" != "" ]]; then
        cmd="su -c \"${pgctlpath} -D ${pgdatadirsrc} stop -m fast\" postgres"
        echo_log "$cmd"
        if [[ $dryrun -eq 0 ]]; then
          eval "$cmd"
          send_email "Emergency stop of PostgreSQL on ${instance}" "${mail_text}\n\nPostgreSQL was stopped!"
          exit 1
          echo_log "dry run - skipping emergency stop"

    ## warning limit
    if [[ ${dirfree} -le ${warninglimitkb} ]]; then
      echo_log "space on filesystem reached warning limit!"
      echo_log "sending warning e-mail..."
      send_email "Warning - not enough space on ${instance}" "${mail_text}\n\nThis is warning e-mail"

    echo_log "directory does not exist: ${dirfull}"

echo_log "===== PostgreSQL emergency check ===="
echo_log "pg_ctl utility: ${pgctlpath}"

#### pg data dir
pgdatadirsrc=$(su -c "psql -p ${PG_PORT} -t -c \"select setting from pg_settings where name = 'data_directory';\" 2>/dev/null|tr -d ' '" postgres)
if [ -z ${pgdatadirsrc} ]; then
  echo_log "ERROR: cannot query postgresql data_directory !"
  exit 1
get_free_space "${pgdatadirsrc}" 

#### pg_xlog dir
get_free_space "${pgxlogdirsrc}" 

#### pg_wal dir
get_free_space "${pgwaldirsrc}" 

#### tablespaces
for tblspc in $(su -c "psql -p ${PG_PORT} -t -c \"select loc from (select nullif(pg_tablespace_location(oid),'') as loc from pg_tablespace) src where loc is not null;\"" postgres ); do
  get_free_space "${tblspc}" 

echo_log "Check DONE"