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Manage roles and database access with SQL

Learn how to create roles and manage database access in Neon with SQL

This guide shows how to manage database access in Neon using SQL. This guide will lead you through connecting to Neon with an administrator role, creating a database, creating a role for privilege management, and granting privileges to that role. It will then show how to create roles for database users and grant role membership to those users that will allow them to use the new database.

Understanding roles in Neon

Before you begin, it's important to understand how roles work in Neon. Each Neon project is created with a default role that takes its name from your Neon account (the Google, GitHub, or partner account that you registered with). This role owns the ready-to-use database (neondb) that is created in your project's primary branch. For example, if you sign up for Neon with a John Smith Google account, the project is created with a default role named john.

Your default Neon role is automatically granted membership in a neon_superuser role, which provides the user with the privileges and predefined role memberships shown in this CREATE ROLE statement:

You can think of this role as a Neon administrator role. A user with membership in the neon_superuser role can create databases, create roles, add extensions, and has all the privileges of pg_read_all_data and pg_write_all_data. For more information about this role, see The neon_superuser role.

Any user created in the Neon console or using the Neon API is automatically granted membership in the neon_superuser role. But what do you do if you need to create roles with different or limited privileges? After all, not every database user should be an administrator in Neon.

Neon supports creating and managing Postgres roles with SQL. Roles created with SQL from a client such as psql or from the Neon SQL Editor start with the same basic privileges granted to newly created roles in stand-alone Postgres. They are not granted membership in the neon_superuser role.

Using SQL, you can define database roles with only the privileges you choose to grant. The following instructions show you how.

Create roles and grant database privileges

To begin, assume you're creating a new database that will be used by several developers, all requiring read-write access.

  1. Start by connecting to the ready-to-use neondb database with your default Neon role using psql (or some other client that supports SQL). As described above, this role has administration privileges in Neon, which enable it to create databases and roles.

  2. Create a new database. Call it app_db. Neon supports creating databases with the Neon console, CLI, API, and SQL. Here, we use SQL.


    The role that creates a database is automatically the owner of the database.

  3. Create a shared role for database users. This role will be used to manage database user privileges. Neon requires a password when creating any role with SQL.


    Your password must have 60 bits of entropy. To achieve this, you can follow these password composition guidelines:

    • Length: The password should consist of at least 12 characters.
    • Character diversity: To enhance complexity, passwords should include a variety of character types, specifically:
      • Lowercase letters (a-z)
      • Uppercase letters (A-Z)
      • Numbers (0-9)
      • Special symbols (e.g., !@#$%^&*)
    • Avoid predictability: To maintain a high level of unpredictability, do not use:
      • Sequential patterns (such as '1234', 'abcd', 'qwerty')
      • Common words or phrases
      • Any words found in a dictionary
    • Avoid character repetition: To maximize randomness, do not use the same character more than twice consecutively.

    Example password: T3sting!23Ab (DO NOT USE THIS EXAMPLE PASSWORD)

    Passwords must be supplied in plain text but are encrypted when stored. Hashed passwords are not supported.

  4. Grant the dev_users role all privileges on the database:

  5. Create some database users. The password requirements described above apply here as well.

  6. Grant the users membership in the dev_users role:

    The dev_user1 and dev_user2 can now connect to the app_db database and start using it with full privileges.

You may want to employ a more granular privilege scheme in your database access configuration, which you can do using a similar approach of creating 'group' roles and granting membership to those roles. For more information about granting privileges in Postgres, please see the GRANT command in the PostgreSQL documentation.

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