Analyzing Postgresql Tmp Files

Postgresql stores temporary files for in-flight queries — these don’t normally hang around for long, but sorting a large amount of data or building a large hash can create a lot of temp files. A dead query that was sorting a large amount of data or …. well, we’ve gotten terabytes of temp files associated with multiple backend process IDs. The file names are algorithmic — a string “pgsql_tmp followed by the backend PID, a period, and then some other number. Thus, I can extract the PID from each file name and provide a summary of the processes associated with temp files.

To view a summary of the temp files within the pgsql_tmp folder, run the following command to print a count then a PID number:
ls /path/to/pgdata/base/pgsql_tmp | sed -nr 's/pgsql_tmp([0-9]*)\.[0-9]*/\1/p' | sort | uniq -c

A slightly longer command can be used to reverse the columns – producing a list of process IDs followed by the count of files for that PID – too:
ls /path/to/pgdata/base/pgsql_tmp | sed -nr 's/pgsql_tmp([0-9]*)\.[0-9]*/\1/p' | sort | uniq -c | sort -k2nr | awk '{printf("%s\t%s\n",$2,$1)}END{print}'


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