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Replicate data to an external Postgres instance

Learn how to replicate data from Neon to an external Postgres instance

Enrollment Pause for Logical Replication Beta

We have temporarily paused new enrollments in our Logical Replication Beta program. This pause is aimed at evaluating the feature's performance and incorporating feedback from our early adopters. Please stay tuned for updates, and thank you for your interest. We plan to reopen enrollment again soon.

Neon's logical replication feature allows you to replicate data from Neon to external subscribers. This guide shows you how to stream data from a Neon Postgres database to an external Postgres database.

You will learn how to enable logical replication in Neon, create a publication, and configure an external Postgres database as a subscriber.


To prevent storage bloat, Neon automatically removes inactive replication slots after a period of time if there are other active replication slots. If you have or intend on having more than one replication slot, please see Unused replication slots to learn more.

Enable logical replication


Enabling logical replication modifies the PostgreSQL wal_level configuration parameter, changing it from replica to logical for all databases in your Neon project. Once the wal_level setting is changed to logical, it cannot be reverted. Enabling logical replication also restarts all computes in your Neon project, meaning that active connections will be dropped and have to reconnect.

To enable logical replication in Neon:

  1. Select your project in the Neon Console.
  2. On the Neon Dashboard, select Project settings.
  3. Select Beta.
  4. Click Enable.

You can verify that logical replication is enabled by running the following query:

SHOW wal_level;

After enabling logical replication, the next steps involve creating publications on your replication source database in Neon and configuring subscriptions on the destination system or service. These processes are the same as those you would perform in a standalone Postgres environment.

Create a publication

Publications are a fundamental part of logical replication in Postgres. They allow you to specify a set of database changes that can be replicated to subscribers. This section walks you through creating a publication for a users table.

  1. Create the users table in your Neon database. You can do this via the Neon SQL Editor or by connecting to your Neon database from an SQL client such as psql.

    CREATE TABLE users (
      username VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
      email VARCHAR(100) NOT NULL
  2. To create a publication for the users table:

    CREATE PUBLICATION users_publication FOR TABLE users;

This command creates a publication named users_publication, which will include all changes to the users table in your replication stream.

With your publication created, you're now ready to configure a subscriber that will receive the data changes from this publication.

Create a Postgres role for replication

It is recommended that you create a dedicated Postgres role for replicating data. The role must have the REPLICATION privilege. The default Postgres role created with your Neon project and roles created using the Neon Console, CLI, or API are granted membership in the neon_superuser role, which has the required REPLICATION privilege.

To create a role in the Neon Console:

  1. Navigate to the Neon Console.
  2. Select a project.
  3. Select Roles.
  4. Select the branch where you want to create the role.
  5. Click New Role.
  6. In the role creation dialog, specify a role name.
  7. Click Create. The role is created, and you are provided with the password for the role.

Grant schema access to your Postgres role

If your replication role does not own the schemas and tables you are replicating from, make sure to grant access. Run these commands for each schema:

GRANT USAGE ON SCHEMA <schema_name> TO <role_name>;
GRANT SELECT ON ALL TABLES IN SCHEMA <schema_name> TO <role_name>;

Granting SELECT ON ALL TABLES IN SCHEMA instead of naming the specific tables avoids having to add privileges later if you add tables to your publication.

Configure PostgreSQL as a subscriber

A subscriber is a destination that receives data changes from your publications.

This section describes how to configure a subscription on a standalone Postgres instance to a publication defined on your Neon database. After the subscription is defined, the destination Postgres instance will be able to receive data changes from the publication defined on your Neon database.

It is assumed that you have a separate Postgres instance ready to act as the subscriber. This must be a Postgres instance other than Neon, such as a local PostgreSQL installation. Currently, a Neon database cannot be defined as a subscriber. The PostgreSQL version of the subscriber should be compatible with the publisher. The primary (publishing) server must be of the same or a higher version than the replica (subscribing) server. For example, you can replicate from PostgreSQL 14 to 16, but not from 16 to 14. Neon supports Postgres 14, 15, and 16. The Postgres version is defined when you create a Neon project.

Create a subscription

  1. Use psql or another SQL client to connect to your subscriber Postgres database.

  2. Create the subscription using the using a CREATE SUBSCRIPTION statement. This example creates a subscription for the user table publication (users_publication) that you created previously.

    CREATE SUBSCRIPTION users_subscription 
    CONNECTION 'postgres://' 
    PUBLICATION users_publication;
    • subscription_name: A name you chose for the subscription.
    • connection_string: The connection string for your Neon database, where you defined the publication.
    • publication_name: The name of the publication you created on your Neon database.
  3. Verify the subscription was created by running the following command:

    SELECT * FROM pg_stat_subscription;

    The subscription (users_subscription) should be listed, confirming that your subscription has been successfully created.

Test the replication

Testing your logical replication setup ensures that data is being replicated correctly from the publisher to the subscriber (from your Neon database to your standalone Postgres instance).

First, generate some changes in the users table on the publisher database to see if these changes are replicated to the subscriber:

  1. Connect to your Neon database (the publisher) and perform an INSERT operation. For example:

    INSERT INTO users (username, email) VALUES ('new_user', '');
  2. After making changes, query the users table on the publisher to confirm your INSERT:

    SELECT * FROM users;

    Note the changes you made for comparison with the subscriber's data.

  3. Now, connect to your subscriber database on your standalone Postgres instance:

    psql -h [server_IP_or_hostname] -U [username] -d [database] -W
  4. Query the users table:

    SELECT * FROM users;

Compare the results with what you observed on the publisher.

  1. On the subscriber, you can also check the status of the replication:

    SELECT * FROM pg_stat_subscription;

    Look for the last_msg_receive_time to confirm that the subscription is active and receiving data.

Need help?

Join our Discord Server to ask questions or see what others are doing with Neon. Users on paid plans can open a support ticket from the console. For more detail, see Getting Support.

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