Scheduling maintenance with the PostgreSQL pg_cron extension

You can use the PostgreSQL pg_cron extension to schedule maintenance commands within a PostgreSQL database. For more information about the extension, see What is pg_cron? in the pg_cron documentation.

The pg_cron extension is supported on RDS for PostgreSQL engine versions 12.5 and higher.

Setting up the pg_cron extension

Set up the pg_cron extension as follows:

  1. Modify the custom parameter group associated with your PostgreSQL DB instance by adding pg_cron to the shared_preload_libraries parameter value.
    • If your RDS for PostgreSQL DB instance uses the rds.allowed_extensions parameter to explicitly list extensions that can be installed, you need to add the pg_cron extension to the list. Only certain versions of RDS for PostgreSQL support the rds.allowed_extensions parameter. By default, all available extensions are allowed. For more information, see Restricting installation of PostgreSQL extensions.Restart the PostgreSQL DB instance to have changes to the parameter group take effect. To learn more about working with parameter groups, see Modifying parameters in a DB parameter group.
  2. After the PostgreSQL DB instance has restarted, run the following command using an account that has rds_superuser permissions. For example, if you used the default settings when you created your RDS for PostgreSQL DB instance, connect as user postgres and create the extension.CREATE EXTENSION pg_cron;The pg_cron scheduler is set in the default PostgreSQL database named postgres. The pg_cron objects are created in this postgres database and all scheduling actions run in this database.

Granting database users permissions to use pg_cron

Installing the pg_cron extension requires the rds_superuser privileges. However, permissions to use the pg_cron can be granted (by a member of the rds_superuser group/role) to other database users, so that they can schedule their own jobs. We recommend that you grant permissions to the cron schema only as needed if it improves operations in your production environment.

To grant a database user permission in the cron schema, run the following command:

postgres=> GRANT USAGE ON SCHEMA cron TO db-user;

This gives db-user permission to access the cron schema to schedule cron jobs for the objects that they have permissions to access. If the database user doesn’t have permissions, the job fails after posting the error message to the postgresql.log file, as shown in the following:

2020-12-08 16:41:00 UTC::@:[30647]:ERROR: permission denied for table table-name
2020-12-08 16:41:00 UTC::@:[27071]:LOG: background worker "pg_cron" (PID 30647) exited with exit code 1

IN other words, make sure that database users that are granted permissions on the cron schema also have permissions on the objects (tables, schemas, and so on) that they plan to schedule.

The details of the cron job and it success or failure are also captured in the cron.job_run_details table.

Scheduling pg_cron jobs

The following sections show how you can schedule various management tasks using pg_cron jobs.


When you create pg_cron jobs, check that the max_worker_processes setting is larger than the number of cron.max_running_jobs. A pg_cron job fails if it runs out of background worker processes. The default number of pg_cron jobs is 5. For more information, see Parameters for managing the pg_cron extension.

Vacuuming a table

Autovacuum handles vacuum maintenance for most cases. However, you might want to schedule a vacuum of a specific table at a time of your choosing.

See also, Working with the PostgreSQL autovacuum on Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL.

Following is an example of using the cron.schedule function to set up a job to use VACUUM FREEZE on a specific table every day at 22:00 (GMT).

SELECT cron.schedule('manual vacuum', '0 22 * * *', 'VACUUM FREEZE pgbench_accounts');
(1 row)

After the preceding example runs, you can check the history in the cron.job_run_details table as follows.

postgres=> SELECT * FROM cron.job_run_details;
jobid  | runid | job_pid | database | username | command                        | status    | return_message | start_time                    | end_time
 1     | 1     | 3395    | postgres | adminuser| vacuum freeze pgbench_accounts | succeeded | VACUUM         | 2020-12-04 21:10:00.050386+00 | 2020-12-04 21:10:00.072028+00
(1 row)

Following is an querying the cron.job_run_details table to see failed jobs.

postgres=> SELECT * FROM cron.job_run_details WHERE status = 'failed';
jobid | runid | job_pid | database | username | command                       | status | return_message                                   | start_time                    | end_time
 5    | 4     | 30339   | postgres | adminuser| vacuum freeze pgbench_account | failed | ERROR: relation "pgbench_account" does not exist | 2020-12-04 21:48:00.015145+00 | 2020-12-04 21:48:00.029567+00
(1 row)

Purging the pg_cron history table

The cron.job_run_details table contains a history of cron jobs that can become very large over time. We recommend that you schedule a job that purges this table. For example, keeping a week’s worth of entries might be sufficient for troubleshooting purposes.

The following example uses the cron.schedule function to schedule a job that runs every day at midnight to purge the cron.job_run_details table. The job keeps only the last seven days. Use your rds_superuser account to schedule the job such as the following.

SELECT cron.schedule('0 0 * * *', $$DELETE 
    FROM cron.job_run_details 
    WHERE end_time < now() - interval '7 days'$$);

Logging errors to the postgresql.log file only

To prevent writing to the cron.job_run_details table, modify the parameter group associated with the PostgreSQL DB instance and set the cron.log_run parameter to off. The pg_cron extension no longer writes to the table and captures errors to the postgresql.log file only. For more information, see Modifying parameters in a DB parameter group.

Use the following command to check the value of the cron.log_run parameter.

postgres=> SHOW cron.log_run;

Scheduling a cron job for a database other than the default database

The metadata for pg_cron is all held in the PostgreSQL default database named postgres. Because background workers are used for running the maintenance cron jobs, you can schedule a job in any of your databases within the PostgreSQL DB instance:

  1. In the cron database, schedule the job as you normally do using the cron.schedule.postgres=> SELECT cron.schedule('database1 manual vacuum', '29 03 * * *', 'vacuum freeze test_table');
  2. As a user with the rds_superuser role, update the database column for the job that you just created so that it runs in another database within your PostgreSQL DB instance.postgres=> UPDATE cron.job SET database = 'database1' WHERE jobid = 106;
  3. Verify by querying the cron.job table.postgres=> SELECT * FROM cron.job; jobid | schedule | command | nodename | nodeport | database | username | active | jobname ------+-------------+--------------------------------+-----------+----------+----------+-----------+--------+------------------------- 106 | 29 03 * * * | vacuum freeze test_table | localhost | 8192 | database1| adminuser | t | database1 manual vacuum 1 | 59 23 * * * | vacuum freeze pgbench_accounts | localhost | 8192 | postgres | adminuser | t | manual vacuum (2 rows)

Parameters for managing the pg_cron extension

Following is a list of parameters that control the pg_cron extension behavior.

cron.database_nameThe database in which pg_cron metadata is kept.
cron.hostThe hostname to connect to PostgreSQL. You can’t modify this value.
cron.log_runLog every job that runs in the job_run_details table. Values are on or off. For more information, see Tables for scheduling jobs and capturing status .
cron.log_statementLog all cron statements before running them. Values are on or off.
cron.max_running_jobsThe maximum number of jobs that can run concurrently.
cron.use_background_workersUse background workers instead of client sessions. You can’t modify this value.

Use the following SQL command to display these parameters and their values.

postgres=> SELECT name, setting, short_desc FROM pg_settings WHERE name LIKE 'cron.%' ORDER BY name;

Function reference: cron.schedule

This function schedules a cron job. The job is initially scheduled in the default postgres database. The function returns a bigint value representing the job identifier. To schedule jobs to run in other databases within your PostgreSQL DB instance, see the example in Scheduling a cron job for a database other than the default database.

The function has two syntax formats.Syntax

cron.schedule (job_name,

cron.schedule (schedule,


job_nameThe name of the cron job.
scheduleText indicating the schedule for the cron job. The format is the standard cron format.
commandText of the command to run.


postgres=> SELECT cron.schedule ('test','0 10 * * *', 'VACUUM pgbench_history');
(1 row)

postgres=> SELECT cron.schedule ('0 15 * * *', 'VACUUM pgbench_accounts');
(1 row)

Function reference: cron.unschedule

This function deletes a cron job. You can specify either the job_name or the job_id. A policy makes sure that you are the owner to remove the schedule for the job. The function returns a Boolean indicating success or failure.

The function has the following syntax formats.Syntax

cron.unschedule (job_id);

cron.unschedule (job_name);


job_idA job identifier that was returned from the cron.schedule function when the cron job was scheduled.
job_nameThe name of a cron job that was scheduled with the cron.schedule function.


postgres=> SELECT cron.unschedule(108);
(1 row)

postgres=> SELECT cron.unschedule('test');
(1 row)

Tables for scheduling jobs and capturing status

The following tables are used to schedule the cron jobs and record how the jobs completed.

cron.jobContains the metadata about each scheduled job. Most interactions with this table should be done by using the cron.schedule and cron.unschedule functions.ImportantWe recommend that you don’t give update or insert privileges directly to this table. Doing so would allow the user to update the username column to run as rds-superuser.
cron.job_run_detailsContains historic information about past scheduled jobs that ran. This is useful to investigate the status, return messages, and start and end time from the job that ran.