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What Is PostgreSQL? What Are Its Features and Use Cases?

Explore the Features and Use Cases of PostgreSQL

by Pranisha Rai
what is PostgreSQL
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What is PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL is an open-source object-relational database system developed in the late 1980s. Since then, it has evolved and become one of the most advanced relational database management systems (RDBMS). It is known for its data integrity, consistency, cross-platform compatibility, and reliability. Industries ranging from finance to e-commerce to healthcare use PostgreSQL to handle complex data.  

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Features of PostgreSQL

Features of PostgreSQL
  • Dynamic Loading: It helps developers specify the object code file and share a library that contains the new function or type. This dynamic load allows developers to write the code on its server. A smooth modification and operation process is what sets PostgreSQL apart from other RDMS. 
  • Concurrency Control: This feature prevents multi-version concurrency from getting crashed within the server. It also allows backend developers to concurrently read and write while blocking concurrent updates on the same row. 
  • ACID Compliance: PostgreSQL is completely based on atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability (ACID). This means that whenever there are system crashes or power failures, it will ensure data integrity and reliability.
  • Rich Data Types: PostgreSQL not only supports the standard numeric text, but it also supports a wide range of data types like hstore, JSON/JSONB, PostGIS, and arrays. Developers will have access to a rich set of data types.
  • Scalability: PostgreSQL’s strength lie in its scalability, due to which it can easily manage data and concurrent users. The support of Unicode, international character sets, and multi-byte character encoding is extremely beneficial for storing case-sensitivity data 
  • Extensibility: PostgreSQL allows extensibility, meaning developers can customize its functions, operators, and aggregate functions. Besides, it supports procedural languages like PL/pgSQL, PL/Python, PL/Perl, and even PL/Java.  
  • Replication and Partitioning: PostgreSQL comes with built-in binary replication and table partitioning, which is useful for handling extremely large databases. This also promotes fast query execution on extensive datasets. 
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PostgreSQL Data Types and Constraints

  • PostgreSQL offers a wide range of features, such as Boolean, character types, numeric types, temporal types, Universally Unique Identifiers (UUID), integers, text, dates, arrays, JSON, hstores, and special. 
  • We can apply data integrity using constraints, which will ensure data consistency. Some of the common constraints are NOT NULL, UNIQUE, PRIMARY KEY, and CHECK constraints. 
  • Constraints also help to prevent data errors and ensure the accuracy of databases.
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Architecture of PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL supports SQL and JSON querying abilities; its architecture comprises three major components: process, memory, and storage.

In this section, we will see each of them in detail:

Process Architecture

It uses a multi-process architecture, where separate processes are created for each client connection. The following are its multiple connections: 

  • Client/Server Model: PostgreSQL uses a client-server model to run a database as a server. This is where clients can connect with the server to perform database operations. The PostgreSQL server can handle multiple client connections simultaneously. 
  • Backend Processes: Whenever a client connects to the PostgreSQL server, a new process called backend is created. This process manages the client’s requests. 
  • Master Process: The master process, also known as a postmaster, takes care of the backend processes. It coordinates the initiation of new backend processes and handles connections and disconnections. 

Memory Architecture

The PostgreSQL memory structure is further divided into shared memory and process memory. Let’s have a closer look at it down below: 

  • Shared Memory: As the name suggests, it can be shared across all the backend processes. It is used to store buffer cache, server-wide data, and lock tables. When the client sends the request to the server, the PostgreSQL server processes the data using shared buffers and background processes.  
  • Process Memory: PostgreSQL uses different memory spaces for managing various aspects of database operations, including query execution, maintenance tasks, and ensuring data durability through checkpointing. The checkpoint process ensures data durability and helps prevent data loss in the event of a crash. Process memory in PostgreSQL is essential for managing data structures and temporary data during query processing, while maintenance work memory is dedicated to administrative tasks.  
  • Write-Ahead Logging (WAL) Buffers: WAL main purpose is to record changes to the database to ensure data integrity and assist in recovery in case of a crash.

Storage Architecture 

It organizes data into tables, databases, and schemas. 

  • Tablespaces: It stores data files that contain database objects and lets administrators control disk layout. 
  • Database: A database is a collection of schemas. It serves as a container for tables, indices, views, and sequences. 
  • Schemas: A schema is a database of objects, tables, views, indexes, data types, functions, and operators. 
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Common PostgreSQL Command

CREATE DATABASE: Creates a new database. 

DROP DATABASE: Deletes an existing database.  

\c: Connects to a specific database. 

CREATE TABLE: Creates a new table.  
 CREATE TABLE tablename ( 
     column1 datatype, 
     column2 datatype, 
 ALTER TABLE: Modifies an existing table 
 ALTER TABLE tablename ADD column datatype; 

DROP TABLE: Deletes an existing table. 
 DROP TABLE tablename; 

\d: Describes the structure of a table. 
 \d tablename 

CREATE DATABASE: Creates a new database. 

DROP DATABASE: Deletes an existing database. 
 \l: Lists all databases. 

INSERT INTO: Inserts new rows into a table. 
 INSERT INTO tablename (column1, column2, ...) VALUES (value1, value2, ...); 

SELECT: Retrieves data from one or more tables. 
 SELECT * FROM tablename; 

UPDATE: Modifies existing data in a table. 
 UPDATE tablename SET column = value WHERE condition; 

DELETE: Deletes rows from a table. 
 DELETE FROM tablename WHERE condition; 

CREATE INDEX: Creates an index on a table. 
 CREATE INDEX indexname ON tablename (column); 

CREATE VIEW: Creates a virtual table based on the result of a query. 
 CREATE VIEW viewname AS SELECT * FROM tablename WHERE condition; 
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Use Cases of PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL’s use is not limited to one industry. Its flexibility and adaptability allows it to be used across various industries and applications. The following are some of the common use cases of PostgreSQL: 

Web Applications 

PostgreSQL’s scalability and robustness make it a preferred backend option for websites that deal with heavy traffic. Its ability to handle large volumes of data and concurrent user interactions is remarkable. In web development, it serves as a robust backend database for e-commerce platforms, content management systems, and social media platforms. 

Data Warehousing 

PostgreSQL supports advanced query abilities and complex data types. This allows businesses to efficiently handle and manage massive volumes of datasets. Because of this, PostgreSQL is used for reporting, data analysis, and business intelligence.

Internet of Things (IoT) Applications 

PostgreSQL’s support for time series makes it an excellent choice to store sensor data and process it. Not only that, it can also store telemetry data, JSON data types, and other IoT-generated data. Because of this, it is increasingly used to manage and analyze IoT data.

Education Systems and                         Gaming 

Educational institutions use PostgreSQL for its cost-effective approach to managing student records, course schedules, grades, and online learning platforms. In games, its ACID compliance ensures the integrity of multiplayer and allows players to store profiles, game progress, and in-game transactions. 

Geographic Information                    Systems (GIS) 

PostgreSQL’s support for an advanced Geographic Information System (GIS) allows it to store, retrieve, and analyze geospatial data with ease. Also, extensions like PostGIS help developers build apps that can manage location-based services effectively. 

Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms leverage PostgreSQL for managing user profiles, posts, comments, and engagement metrics. Its scalability and ability to handle concurrent users are crucial in this context. 

Healthcare Systems 

PostgreSQL’s compliance allows for seamless management of patient records, medical histories, and billing in the healthcare industry. Its extensibility and advanced data types let scientists and researchers store and analyze complex scientific data. Due to this, it is used in various scientific domains, including genomics, bioinformatics, and environmental research. 

Content Management                     Systems (CMS)

CMS platforms like Durpal, Joomla, and Wgtail use PostgreSQL as their backend database. Due to its ability to handle complex content structures and large databases. This makes it the best choice for content-heavy websites and applications. 

 Financial Systems

Most financial industries, online banking, and payment processing platforms rely heavily on PostgreSQL. Due to its ACID-compliant transaction support, data integrity, and robust security.


PostgreSQL provides reliability for e-commerce sites during peak shopping hours. It also helps e-commerce sites store product catalogs, customer profiles, order histories, and transaction data efficiently.

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How to Install PostgreSQL?

Before you install PostgreSQL, you must check the following prerequisites and then follow the steps: 

  • Check the hardware requirements according to the version of PostgreSQL. 
  • Operating system compatibility and dependencies. 
  • Backup strategy to protect the data in case of hardware failure. 

Step 1: Go to this link and download the file for PostgreSQL. 

Step 2: Once the installation is downloaded, click “Next” to proceed, and then select the location on your laptop. 

Step 3: Now, choose the software that needs to be installed on the system, select all the options, click “Next,” and then select the data directory.  

Step 4: Choose the master password for your database, select the port, and click “Next.” 

Step 5: In this step, you need to set your default operating system and click “Next.” 

So that’s it! We have completed the installation process, and now you can connect your PostgreSQL to the web. 

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PostgreSQL is backed by more than three decades of active development. It stands out as a powerful and versatile database, with over 72.08% of developers using it to meet the demands of diverse use cases. In this blog, we have covered features of PostgreSQL, its architecture, common use cases, and how to install it on your system. If you’re a database expert and searching for a role in an esteemed organization, then sign up with Olibr now. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

It is a function used to return the first non-null value in a list of expressions. It takes multiple arguments and returns the value of the first argument that is not null.  

Indexing in PostgreSQL is done by using the CREATE Index command. Other ways of indexing in PostgreSQL are single B-tree indexes, hash indexes, generalized search trees, and space-partitioned generalized search tree indexes. 

It is not supported by open-source apps, and its processing performance is slower than MySQL. 

You can connect to the database using psql -d database -U user. 

PostgreSQL can handle multiple records at once with complex queries, requires low maintenance, and is compatible with all operating systems. 

MySQL is known for its speed and ease of use, while PostgreSQL is preferred by web developers for its robustness, advanced features, and support for complex queries.

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