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How to Install pgAgent On windows

Taking regular SQL database backup is one of the most important responsibilities of a database administrator. By setting up automatic database backup we can get rid of the additional overhead of doing it manually, every day, week or month. When it comes to PostgreSQL running in any Unix distributions or in Windows, there are at least two ways to do it.
  1. Using the built in CronJobs/ CronTabs in case of  Linux, and Windows scheduled tasks in Windows .
  2. Using PostgreSQL’s own scheduling agent, pgAgent.
Often DBAs tends to rely on CronTabs or Scheduled tasked because of the ease of use it offers. But there are several advantages if you use pgAgent instead. Though it takes a little effort to install pgAgent, it is much better than Cron jobs or Scheduled tasks.

Why use pgAgent over CronJob:

Compared to CronTab, PgAgent has the following advantages: 

  • You can have multiple steps for a job without having to resort to a batch script.
  • You can have multiple schedules for a job without having to repeat the line.
  • Is cross platform
  • For running PostgreSQL specific jobs such as stored function calls or adhoc sql update statements etc. it is a bit easier granted the PostgreSQL account used is a super user or has sufficient rights to the dbs.

Compared to Windows Scheduled Tasks - PgAgent has the following advantages: 

  • You can go down to the minute level
  • Have several steps per job
  • Have multiple schedules per job
  • Is cross platform
  • For running PostgreSQL specific jobs such as stored function calls it is easier than using windows scheduled tasks.

Compared to SQL Server Agent - PgAgent has the following advantages: 

  • SQL Server Agent comes only with Microsoft SQL Server Workgroup and above so not an option say for people running SQL Server Express editions or no SQL Server install.
  • Is cross platform
  • Some missing features in PgAgent which would be nice to see in later versions would be some sort of notification system similar to what SQL Server Agent has that can notify you by email when things fail and a maintenance wizard type complement tool similar to what SQL Server 2005 Maintenace Wizard provides that allows users to walk thru a set of steps to build automated backup/DB Maintenance tasks. This is a bit tricky since it would need to be cross-platform. Granted the job history display in PgAdmin that provides success and time taken to perform task is a nice touch and makes up for some of this lack and you can always roll your own by running some monitor to check the job event logs.
So, in this tutorial, we are gonna have a look at how we can set an automatic SQL database backup of your PostgreSQL DB. As we said earlier both Linux and Windows support pgAgent. Here we will see how to do it in Linux, to be more precise in Ubuntu.
Setting up Automatic Scheduled SQL Database backup in PostgreSQL involves 4 Steps:
  1. Installing pgAgent in. 
  2. Creating Backup Jobs.

  3. Setting up the SQL database backup jobs using pgAdmin.
  4. Adding init/ start up script to run pgAgent on Ubuntu start up. (optional)

1. Installing pgAgent

In most of the cases pgAgent comes pre-installed with PostgreSQL. In case, if not, you can download and install it using any package manager like Synaptic, or simply use apt-get command as below.
To install PgAgent, there are basically three steps
  1. Make sure you have plpgsql language installed in the postgres database. Which you do with the sql command running  postgres database.
     HANDLER plpgsql_call_handler
     VALIDATOR plpgsql_validator;
  2. Run the PgAgent.sql using PgAdmin III or psql and run it in the db postgres - found in /path/to/PgAdmin III/1.8/scripts (on windows this is usually in "C:/Program Files/PgAdmin III/1.8/scripts"). This creates a schema catalog in the postgres database called pgAgent with the helper pgagent tables and functions.
  3. Install the PgAgent server service/Daemon process: On windows - you run a command something like below - the -u user is not the PostgreSQL user but the computer user that the PgAgent will be running under.
    C:\Program Files\PostgreSQL\8.2\bin\pgAgent" INSTALL pgAgent -u postgres -p somepassword hostaddr= dbname=postgres user=postgres 

    After you install on Windows - you should go into Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services - "PostgreSQL Scheduling Agent - pgAgent" -> and start the service. If the service doesn't start - most likely you typed the postgres computer account password in wrong. Simply switch to the Log On tab and retype the password or change to use a different account.
    Keep in mind - if you wish PgAgent to run scripts that require File Network access (e.g. copying files to network servers, you need to have the service run under a network account that has network access to those servers.

    On Unix/Linux systems - it varies how its installed. It is usually run under the root account and the line is added to startupscripts usually /etc/init.d or I think on MacOSX its /etc/xinetd.d 
    /path/to/pgagent hostaddr= dbname=postgres user=postgres
    Note: as the docs say - its probably best not to specify the password. Instead - you can set the postgres account to be trusted from server you have PgAgent installed on or use the ~pgpass approach.
Once you have PgAgent installed, and open/refresh PgAdmin III, you should see another section called Jobs that looks like below:
pgagent jobs

If per chance, you do not see the new Jobs icon, make sure that you have PgAgent jobs checked by going to File->Options->Display
PgAdmin Options Display

2.Creating Backup Jobs

Creating backup jobs is done with a shell script of some sort. In Windows this can be done with a .bat file and specifying the file in the PgAgent job or by writing the command directly in the PgAgent job. 
In Linux/Unix - this is done with a .sh file and specifying that in the PgAgent job or writing the command directly in the PgAgent job.
Generally we go with a .bat or .sh file, because using a shell script allows you more granular control - such as backing up multiple databases or having a separately date named file for each daily backup.
Below is a sample batch script for Windows that backs up selected databases and then does a full Pg_dumpall as well
@echo off
REM - backup directory can be a file server share that the PgAgent windows service account has access to
set BACKUPDIR="/path/to/backup/"
set PGHOST="localhost"
set PGUSER="postgres"
set PGBIN="C:/Program Files/PostgreSQL/8.2/bin/"
for /f "tokens=1-4 delims=/ " %%i in ("%date%") do (
 set dow=%%i
 set month=%%j
 set day=%%k
 set year=%%l

for /f "tokens=1-3 delims=: " %%i in ("%time%") do (
 set hh=%%i
 set nn=%%j

REM - It would be nice to use gzip in the pg_dumpall call (or if pg_dumpall supported compression as does the pg_dump)
REM here as we do on the linux/unix script
REM - but gzip is not prepackaged with windows so requires a separate install/download. 
REM Our favorite all purpose compression/uncompression util for Windows is 7Zip which does have a command-line
%PGBIN%pg_dumpall -h %PGHOST% -U %PGUSER% -f %BACKUPDIR%fullpgbackup-%year%%month%.sql 
%PGBIN%pg_dump -i -h %PGHOST% -U %PGUSER% -F c -b -v -f "%BACKUPDIR%db1-%year%%month%%day%%hh%.compressed" db1
%PGBIN%pg_dump -i -h %PGHOST% -U %PGUSER% -F c -b -v -f "%BACKUPDIR%db2-%year%%month%%day%%hh%.compressed" db2
Below is an equivalent Linux/Unix backup shell script
#backup directory can be a file server share that the PgAgent daemon account has access to
thedate=`date --date="today" +%Y%m%d%H`
themonth=`date --date="today" +%Y%m`

#create a full backup of the server databases
$PGBIN/pg_dumpall -h $PGHOST -U $PGUSER | gzip > $BACKUP_DIR/fullbackup-$themonth.sql.gz 

#put the names of the databases you want to create an individual backup below
dbs=(db1 db2 db3)
#iterate thru dbs in dbs array and backup each one
for db in ${dbs[@]}
 $PGBIN/pg_dump -i -h $PG_HOST -U $PGUSER -F c -b -v -f $BACKUPDIR/$db-$thedate.compressed $db

#this section deletes the previous month of same day backup except for the full server backup
rm -f $BACKUPDIR/*`date --date="last month" +%Y%m%d`*.compressed
Save the respective above scripts in a (dailybackup.bat for windows pgagent) or (dailybackup.sh for Linux/Unix pgagent) file.

For bash unix scripts make sure it has unix line breaks (not windows) - you may use dos2unix available on most linux/unix boxes to convert windows line breaks to unix linebreaks. When saving as .sh make sure to give the .sh file execute rights using chmod on linux/unix. Also change the db1, db2 and add additional lines for other databases you wish to backup to the respective names of your databases and add additional as needed.
cd /path/toscriptfolder
dos2unix dailybackup.sh
chmod 771 dailybackup.sh
/path/toscriptfolder/dailybackup.sh  #this is to test execution of it
771 permissions gives execute rights to public and all rights (read,write,execute) to owner and group. Alternatively you could do 640 instead which would remove all rights from public, but then you will need to do a Change owner chown to change ownership to account you are running PgAgent under. Note the above script and commands we tested on a CentOS box so commands and script may vary if you are running on MacOSX or another Linux variant.
A couple of notes about the above which are more preferences than anything.
  • We like to create a dump all backup which would contain all the databases and just overwrite it daily but keep one for each month. This is more for major disaster recovery than anything else.
  • We prefer the Postgres Native Compressed format for our date stamped backups. The reason for that is with the pg_dump compressed format, it takes up less space, deals with binary objects well, and has the benefit that you can restore individual database objects for it. This is very useful in cases where someone screws up and they come back to you days or months later.
  • You will note that the date stamp format we have included includes the Hour and would create a file something of the form - dbname-2008010102.compressed - the reason for that is that it sorts nicely by name and date of backup and if disk space was an issue, you could easily include a line that deletes say backups older than a month. Going down to the hour level allows us to quickly create emergency backups by clicking the Run Now on PgAdmin Jobs interface that wouldn't overwrite the current days backup.
  • In practice we also like to have at least one of the backups ftped to a remote location and include that as part of the script and/or backed up to a remote server that has good connectivity with the pgagent server. This helps in cases of complete server failure. This step is not included here since its too OS and install specific to get into.

  • Next to create the PgAgent backup job follow the following steps.
    1. Open up PgAdmin - navigate to jobs section, right mouse click and click New Job - New Job
    2. Fill in the properties tab as shown in this snapshot - PgAgent Properties
    3. Switch to the Steps tab and select Batch and fill in details as shown - PgAgent Steps
    4. Switch to the Definition tab and type in the path to the batch or sh file. Keep in mind the path is in context of the PgAgent service. So if you have PgAgent installed on a server that is different from the PostgreSQL server, then make sure the paths in your script and path to the file is set as if you were the PgAgent account on PgAgent server. As show here PgAgent definition and then click the OK button.
    5. Next switch to the Schedules tab and click to add a Schedule. Schedule
    6. Next Switch to Times tab. The reason we are skipping the Days tab is that anything you do not fill in is assumed to be All since we want all days, we leave that tab blank. This diagram shows setting the backup time to be 02:15 AM every day - PgAgent Schedule Times
    Once the job is saved, the hierarchy in PgAgmin looks like the below snapshots
    PGAgent Job Hierarch
    Clicking on the Daily Schedule Icon Schedule Stat
    Clicking on the respective objects in the Job Hierarchy such as a Step or schedule gives you detailed information about each of those. The statistics tab gives you details such as how long a step took, whether or not it succeeded or failed and when it was run.
    Keep in mind that while PgAgent is closely related to PostgreSQL and uses PostgreSQL for scheduling and logging, there isn't any reason you can not use it as an all-purpose scheduling agent. In fact we use it to backup MySQL as well as PostgreSQL databases, do automated web crawls, download remote backups etc. Using the SQL Job Type option, you can use it to run postgresql functions that rebuild materialized views, do other standard postgresql specific sql maintenance tasks, etc. On top of that PgAdmin provides a nice interface to it that you can use on any computer (not just the one running PgAgent).
    How To Schedule PostgreSQL Jobs using pgAgent on Linux plateform


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