Removing test data from your AWS hosted Postgres DB automatically every day using pg_cron


I love the safety of automated tests running against my changes but hate having to clean up all that test data. One solution is to delete your environment peridically, but that is bit drastic. A solution I came across recently is using pg_cron. You can run commands on a schedule. It's often used for maintainence but I thought a great usecase is deleting test data that I no longer need. I'm using AWS and they already have pg_cron installed from version 12.5 and higher. AWS have some instructions on how to do this , I'm just highlighting the important bits I overlook or forget to do.

Make sure your database is running 12.5 or higher

This is important! Check the version and upgrade if possible before you start changing anything. You won't get any warnings if it doesn't work. In your RDS console go to the configuration tab


Then check the Engine version. Verify it's 12.5 or above. Mine is 12.8 so I'm ready to configure.


Creating a custom parameter group

Most likely you are using the default group. You can't edit the values on the default group, you need to make a new one. Click on Parameter Groups on the side navigation. You'll most likely have something that looks like the one below


Select Create parameter group. For the parameter group details shown below:


Add pg_cron to the shared_preload_libraries

Now you have the custom parameter group you can edit values. Click on the newly created group and filter the list of parameters by entering shared_preload_libraries into the filter box shown below.


Select the shared_preload_libraries parameter check box and press Edit parameters button. Add , pg_cron to the end of the list and save. You should see pg_cron added to the list of Allowed values

Apply the parameter group to the database

Go back to the dashboard and select your database and press the modify button. Near the bottom you'll see the Additional configuration section. Select your custom parameter group from the dropdown list DB parameter group and hit continue then Modify DB instance. Below shows the Additional configuration section.


Restart DB instance

The changes won't take into effect until you have restarted the DB. Go to the dashboard select your database and select Reboot


Enable pg_cron in the database

To create a cron job, authenticate to your database using your database client of choice.

Select the postgres database not the database with your application data in (this confused me the first time I did it. Below shows me interacting with the postgres database.


Run the following SQL command against the database


Create the scheduled job

The following is ran on the postgres database, not the database with your data in it. This is really important!

To create a scheduled job use a special function named schedule that was enabled when you created the pg_cron extension. The first argument is a human readable name to give the job, such as delete test data. The second is how often you want it to run 0 0 * * * would run it at midnight every night. The last argument is the command you want to run. Using $$ at the beginning and end of the input means you can use ' as part of the command. See the example below that deletes every row in PRODUCTS where USER equals 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000

SELECT cron.schedule('delete test data', '0 0 * * *', $$DELETE FROM PRODUCTS WHERE USER = '00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000'$$);

This command will output a number, which will be 1 if it's your first job. Use that number as the jobid in the next statement. The name of the database is the one with all your data in it. In my case it's productdatabase

UPDATE cron.job SET database = 'productdatabase' WHERE jobid = 1;

Verify it all works

To check the job is set up correctly run the following to output all jobs.

SELECT * FROM cron.job;

Once the job has ran, in my case after midnight, run the following command on the postgres database to output details from previous runs.

SELECT * FROM cron.job_run_details;

Using pg_cron to automate your test cleanup

If you need to clean up your test data automatically pg_cron is a great option that runs transparently in the background. You may need to run multiple commands to clean up your data. For further tips on pg_cron AWS have a good write up of different commands that are included in the extension such as unschedule for removing the job.

© Peter Grainger.RSS