Pete Freitag Pete Freitag

Faster Inserts with PostgreSQL

Updated on June 07, 2024
By Pete Freitag

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm working on optimizing lots of inserts into a database, and I need solutions for different DB servers. Today I have been working with PostgreSQL. Although the PostgreSQL COPY command is recommended, I can't seam to get it to work with ColdFusion, and cfquery. I've tried lots of different ways of doing it.

Fast Insert Solution on PostgreSQL:

So far the fastest solution I have come up with is using PREPARE to create a temporary prepared statement (yes, I'm aware of cfqueryparam, and this method inserts with the highest speed). So here's how you do it:

PREPARE preparedInsert (int, varchar) AS
  INSERT INTO tableName (intColumn, charColumn)
  VALUES ($1, $2);
EXECUTE preparedInsert (1,'a');
EXECUTE preparedInsert (2,'b');
EXECUTE preparedInsert (3,'c');
DEALLOCATE preparedInsert;

Your basically creating a function that allows you to pass variables to your insert statement. Inside the first set of parenthesis you list the types of your variables, then variables are referred to as $1, $3, etc. inside the statement.

Next you can EXECUTE the statement as many times as you need to (this can all be done inside one SQL statement, inside one cfquery tag).

Finally when I'm done, I DEALLOCATE the function, otherwise if you try to PREPARE a statement named preparedInsert again during the same connection session you will get an error.

Performance Results

I found that this method was about 20% faster than multiple INSERT statements when sent in the same SQL statement (same cfquery tag). It was about 2-5 times faster than individual INSERT statements - that is, each insert statement had its own SQL statement, or cfquery tag. Finally it was about 25% faster than using bind parameters (cfqueryparam).

postgresql insert performance sql

Faster Inserts with PostgreSQL was first published on August 31, 2005.

If you like reading about postgresql, insert, performance, or sql then you might also like:

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I've nothing to back this up, but doesn't PostgreSQL support the multi-record INSERT syntax that MySQL supports? I.e. INSERT INTO table (col1, col2) values (1, 'a'), (2, 'b'), (3, 'c'); This has a HUGE effect, because it's an atomic action at the storage level, and therefore only has to update the indexes once, rather than once per record.
by Barney on 08/31/2005 at 3:32:42 PM UTC
Hi Barney, I tested this, and no it does not work on PostgreSQL, I really wished that it would.
by Pete Freitag on 08/31/2005 at 3:41:38 PM UTC
Good stuff Pete. I finally got around to trying PostgreSQL out recently, and I'll probably be using it on an insert intensive application soon.

It's really came a long ways for the Windows platform as of version 8-- it's quite impressive.
by Brandon Harper on 08/31/2005 at 4:23:59 PM UTC
Yeah, PostgreSQL is a very impressive RDBMS, my only gripe is that there aren't any solid mirroring, or clustering solutions builtin (I think there are some third party solutions). Also full text indexing is a third party thing. Not that I really need either of those features right now, it just nice to know they are there - MySQL has both those features.
by Pete Freitag on 09/01/2005 at 3:05:01 PM UTC
I wonder if it is possible in PostgreSQL to get a folder containing flat files and load all files into pgsql table using something like

copy table_name from 'folder_name/*.dat' ?
by Kostya on 11/08/2005 at 7:45:33 PM UTC
PostgreSQL doesn't have MySQL's convenient multi-value insert, but you can achieve something similar as follows:


Combine this syntax with multiple INSERTs per transaction, and you can get quite a boost. In my case it beat the prepared statement approach by a significant margin. (N.B. I have only tested this in PostgreSQL 8.1, if that matters)

I wonder if PostgreSQL provides a faster way to construct the row-set than SELECT..UNION ?
by Dave Walker on 04/25/2006 at 8:13:27 AM UTC
That's a cool technique Dave thanks for posting!
by Pete Freitag on 04/25/2006 at 11:37:28 AM UTC
Hi all,
I need to load .csv files into postgre (greenplum). Help me how to load.
by imrajan on 06/04/2008 at 11:40:38 PM UTC
This method of insertion will take more time. Suppose if there exists 40 columns in a table, And we want to insert 75 rows. According to the method that described above we will put 75 rows and this will take more time. Is there any other method to execute multiple rows with a single query.
by Ali Mabrook on 06/02/2010 at 2:39:03 AM UTC