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Upgrade and failover procedures

Aiven for PostgreSQL® Business and Premium plans include standby read-replica servers. If the primary server fails, a standby replica server is automatically promoted as new primary server.


Standby read-replica servers available on PostgreSQL Business and Premium plans are substantially different from manually created read-replica services since the latter are not promoted if the primary server fails.

There are two distinct cases when failover or switchover occurs:

  1. Uncontrolled primary/replica disconnection
  2. Controlled switchover during rolling-forward upgrades

For Hobbyist and Startup plans, due to missing standby read-replica servers, uncontrolled disconnections can only be mitigated by restoring data from a backup, and can result in data loss of the database changes since the latest backup data that was uploaded to object storage.

Uncontrolled primary/replica disconnection

When a server unexpectedly disconnects, there is no certain way to know whether it really disappeared or whether there is a temporary glitch in the cloud provider's network. Aiven's management platform has different procedures in case of primary or replica nodes disconnections.

Primary server disconnection

If the primary server disappears, Aiven's management platform uses a 60-second timeout before marking the server as down and promoting a replica server as new primary. During this 60-second timeout, the master is unavailable ( does not respond), and works fine (in read-only mode).

After the replica promotion, would point to the new primary server, while becomes unreachable. Finally, a new replica server is created, and after the synchronisation with the primary, the DNS is switched to point to the new replica server.

Replica server disconnection

If the replica server disappears, Aiven's management platform uses a 60-second timeout before marking the server as down and creating a new replica server.


Each Aiven for PostgreSQL® Business plan supports one replica server only, which is why the service's read replica endpoint remains unavailable and queries to this endpoint time-out until a new replica is available.


For higher availability on a service's read replica endpoint, you can upgrade to a Premium plan with two standby servers used as read replicas.

The DNS record pointing to primary server remains unchanged during the recovery of the replica server.

Controlled switchover during upgrades or migrations


The below doesn't apply to major version upgrade with pg_upgrade, for major version upgrade please read the related how-to.

During maintenance updates, cloud migrations, or plan changes, the below procedure is followed:

  1. For each of the replica nodes (available only on Business and Premium plans), a new server is created, and data restored from a backup. Then the new server starts following the existing primary server. After the new server is up and running and data up-to-date, DNS entry is changed to point to it, and the old replica server is deleted.
  2. An additional server is created, and data restored from a backup. Then the new server is synced up to the old primary server.
  3. Cluster replication is changed to quorum commit synchronous to avoid data loss when changing primary server.

At this stage, one extra server is running: the old primary server, and N+1 replica servers (2 for Business and 3 for Premium plans).

  1. The old primary server is scheduled for termination, and one of the new replica servers is immediately promoted as a primary server. DNS is updated to point to the new primary server. The new primary server is removed from the DNS record.

The old primary server is kept alive for a short period of time (minimum 60 seconds) with a TCP forwarding setup pointing to the new primary server allowing clients to connect before learning the new IP address.


If the service plan is changed from a business plan that has two nodes to a startup plan which only has one node of the same tier (for example, business-8 to startup-8), the standby node is removed while the primary node is retained, and connections to the primary are not affected by the downgrade. Similarly, upgrading the service plan from a startup one to a business one adds a standby node to the service cluster, and connections to the primary node are unaffected.

Recreation of replication slots

In case of failover or controlled switchover of an Aiven for PostgreSQL service, the replication slots from the old primary server are automatically recreated in the new primary server.


The recreation of replication slots feature is enabled automatically and doesn't require restarting the nodes for services that have been created or updated as of January 2023. Additional details are outlined in our blog post.


Replication slots are not recovered after major version upgrades of Aiven for PostgreSQL.

One-node cluster

Before replacing a node in the one-node cluster, the new node acquires information on replication slots on the original service, re-creates them, and only then the failover is performed.

Multi-node cluster

For multi-node setups, replication slots from the primary are synchronized to the standbys periodically. At regular time intervals

  • Dependencies for newly-created slots are installed in the corresponding databases (currently, every 30 seconds). When the new slot is created on a database and we want to re-create this slot on a standby, we use a functionality from the aiven_extras extension, which needs to be installed in the database. Therefore, every 30 seconds there is a job checking that this extension is installed on the databases with logical replication slots.
  • Positions (confirmed_flush_lsn) of the slots are synchronized between the primary and the standbys.

When a failover to a standby occurs, the standby node already has replication slots with an up-to-date (maximum 5-second delay) positions from the primary.


Uncontrolled failover ramifications

  • Slots created up to 30 seconds before the failover might be lost.
  • If due to a cloud provider failure, a node from the one-node cluster disappears, replication slots on a new replacement node cannot be restored since the replication slots information is lost.
  • Position of recovered replication slots might be up to several seconds older than on the original primary. Therefore, when re-connecting to PostgreSQL and reading from replication slots, it's recommended to use start positions known to the client until which the data was already received. Otherwise, the client might receive duplicate entries.
  • In case of failover with a huge lag between the primary node and the standby node (for example, when a master disappears), the position of the replication slot restored on a new master is not newer than the position on the standby node, even though the position of that slot on the old master was newer.