PostgreSQL 9.3 EOL – Why is it Important to Upgrade?

After the final release of patch 9.3.25 on November 8th 2018, PostgreSQL 9.3 is no longer supported. Therefore it’s time for all users of PG 9.3 to upgrade their databases to a newer supported version. The benefits of having a supported version are many and that’s what Craig Ringer talks about in the Q&A session below:

Why is it important to upgrade your PostgreSQL database to the latest version?

Craig: Always update to the latest minor version. 2ndQuadrant’s 24/7 support services often help customers who could’ve avoided experiencing a production outage or fault simply by updating every minor version or two. The PostgreSQL community (including 2ndQuadrant) releases minor point releases conservatively, and for good reasons. Keep up to date on those patches.

Note: A “minor” PostgreSQL release, i.e. a maintenance release, is an increment in the last part of the version number, whether it is a two number version like 10.x or a three-number version like 9.6.x. See “version policy” on the PostgreSQL website.

For major release version updates keeping up is not that important. It’s often best to stay on the latest minor release of your current major version and skip a major PostgreSQL release or two before updating. Update if the new major releases will solve problems you are facing, your current version is approaching the community end-of-life date, or you’re planning system changes like OS upgrades or server migrations anyway.

You’ll miss out on performance improvements, data integrity protection enhancements and improvements in monitoring and diagnostics offered by new major versions. But any change has a risk, and a well-planned upgrade requires testing and preparation, which has costs. So seeking a middle ground is usually wise.

Note that it’s usually harder to upgrade from a very old PostgreSQL to the latest, and it may need more planning, so it’s wise to start planning well before the End of Life (EoL) date. That way you maintain continuous coverage for security updates and any serious bugs that may be discovered. You should allow time to plan and test your upgrade.

What are the implications of discontinued community support for a PostgreSQL version that is EoL?

Craig: 2ndQuadrant works as a part of the greater PostgreSQL community to deliver a high quality, well-supported database engine. When problems are found, developers from multiple companies work together to fix the bug and backport the fix to supported versions. This costs time that could be spent on other work. To limit that cost the PostgreSQL community de-supports versions after a time.

Once de-supported, the community won’t include that version in routine bug fixing backports and maintenance activities, so it will miss out on fixes – even important ones like patches for security problems or data-integrity-related bugs.

As part of its 24/7 production support services, 2ndQuadrant offers extended support and bug fixes for old PostgreSQL versions, covering the most recent two versions supported by the community. That will soon be 9.2 and 9.3. Because the risk of backporting fixes grows with the number of versions the patch is backported across, we are conservative about such back patches and only make them when they are really necessary. You won’t be getting the same level of support as you get with community-supported releases, but we’ll have your back for security issues, data integrity issues, etc.

The support team can deliver better service when we have access to the data integrity features and the inspection and monitoring tools available in newer PostgreSQL versions. We have more options for fixing performance problems, and a larger set of compatible tools, extensions and utilities to meet your needs. You might not want to jump at the latest version, but it’s a good idea to keep fairly up to date. The same is true of the operating system PostgreSQL is running on.

Why is 2ndQuadrant best choice to upgrade your PostgreSQL database?

Craig: 2ndQuadrant has a lot of experience with database upgrades and migrations. We’ve performed a lot of complex and demanding upgrades on large systems, including many near-zero downtime upgrades. The support and professional services teams are experienced and have access to multiple experienced PostgreSQL developers and committers.

We’ll help you plan it out and make sure you have everything tested and prepared first.

On multiple occasions, we’ve worked with customers to write new tools or PostgreSQL patches to meet their needs as part of an upgrade. But we work hard to keep it simple and streamlined if we can, as most upgrades should be straightforward.

Use us because we know what we’re doing and we’ve done it a lot.

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