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Manage branches

Data resides in a branch. Each Neon project is created with a primary branch called main. You can create child branches from main or from previously created branches. A branch can contain multiple databases and roles. Tier limits define the number of branches you can create in a project and the amount of data you can store in a branch.

A child branch is a copy-on-write clone of the parent branch. You can modify the data in a branch without affecting the data in the parent branch. For more information about branches and how you can use them in your development workflows, see Branching.

You can create and manage branches using the Neon Console or Neon API. This topic covers both methods.

important

When working with branches, it is important to remove old and unused branches. Branches hold a lock on the data they contain, preventing disk space from being reallocated. Neon retains a 7-day data history, by default. You can configure the retention period. See Point-in-time restore. To keep data storage to a minimum, remove branches before they age out of the history retention window.

Primary branch

Each Neon project has a primary branch. In the Neon Console, your primary branch is identified by a PRIMARY tag. You can designate any branch as the primary branch for your project. The advantage of the primary branch is that its compute endpoint remains accessible if you exceed your project's limits, ensuring uninterrupted access to data that resides on the primary branch, which is typically the branch used in production.

  • For Neon Free Tier users, the compute endpoint associated with the primary branch is always available.
  • For users on paid plans, the compute endpoint associated with the primary branch is exempt from the limit on simultaneously active computes, ensuring that it is always available. Neon has a default limit of 20 simultaneously active computes to protect your account from unintended usage.

Non-primary branch

Any branch not designated as the primary branch is considered a non-primary branch. You can rename or delete non-primary branches.

  • For Neon Free Tier users, compute endpoints associated with non-primary branches are suspended if you exceed the Neon Free Tier active hours limit of 20 hours per month.
  • For users on paid plans, default limits prevent more than 20 simultaneously active compute endpoints. Beyond that limit, a compute endpoint associated with a non-primary branch remains suspended.

Create a branch

To create a branch:

  1. In the Neon Console, select a project.

  2. Select Branches.

  3. Click New Branch to open the branch creation dialog. Create branch dialog

  4. Enter a name for the branch.

  5. Select a parent branch. You can branch from your Neon project's primary branch or a non-primary branch.

  6. Select an Include data up to option to specify the data to be included in your branch.

    • Current point in time: Creates a branch with the latest available data from the parent (the default).
    • Specific date and time: Creates a branch with data up to a specific date and time, allowing for point-in-time restore.
    • Specific Log Sequence Number: Creates a branch with data up to a specific Log Sequence Number (LSN) in the database log, allowing for precise point-in-time restore.

    note

    The Specific date and time and the Specific Log Sequence Number Data options do not include data changes that occured after the specified date and time or LSN, which means the branch contains data as it existed previously, allowing for point-in-time restore. You can only specify a date and time or LSN value that falls within your history retention window. See Configure history retention.

  7. Click Create new branch to create your branch.

You are directed to the Branches page where you are shown the details for your new branch.

View branches

To view the branches in a Neon project:

  1. In the Neon Console, select a project.
  2. Select Branches to view the branches for the project.
  3. Select a branch from the table to view details about the branch. View branch details

Branch details shown on the branch page include:

  • ID: The branch ID. Branch IDs have a br- prefix.
  • Created: The date and time the branch was created.
  • Active Time: The total amount of active hours for your branch compute within the current billing period.
  • Compute Time: The compute hours used by the branch within the current billing period.
  • Parent Branch: The branch from which this branch was created (only visible for child branches).
  • Branching point: The point in time, in terms of data, from which the branch was created.
  • Last data reset: The last time the branch was reset from the parent branch.

The branch details page also includes details about the compute endpoint associated with the branch. For more information, see View a compute endpoint.

Rename a branch

Neon permits renaming a branch, including your project's primary branch. To rename a branch:

  1. In the Neon Console, select a project.
  2. Select Branches to view the branches for the project.
  3. Select a branch from the table.
  4. On the branch page, click the More drop-down menu and select Rename.
  5. Specify a new name for the branch and click Save.

Set a branch as primary

Each Neon project is created with a primary branch called main, but you can designate any branch as your project's primary branch. The benefit of the primary branch is that the compute endpoint associated with the primary branch remains accessible if you exceed project limits, ensuring uninterrupted access to data on the primary branch. For more information, see Primary branch.

To set a branch as the primary branch:

  1. In the Neon Console, select a project.
  2. Select Branches to view the branches for the project.
  3. Select a branch from the table.
  4. On the branch page, click the More drop-down menu and select Set as primary.
  5. In the Set as primary confirmation dialog, click Set as Primary to confirm your selection.

Connect to a branch

Connecting to a database in a branch requires connecting via a compute endpoint associated with the branch. The following steps describe how to connect using psql and a connection string obtained from the Neon Console.

tip

You can also query the databases in a branch from the Neon SQL Editor. For instructions, see Query with Neon's SQL Editor.

  1. In the Neon Console, select a project.
  2. On the project Dashboard, under Connection Details, select the branch, the database, and the role you want to connect with. Connection details widget
  3. Copy the connection string. A connection string includes your role name, the compute endpoint hostname, and database name.
  4. Connect with psql as shown below.
psql postgres://[user]:[password]@[neon_hostname]/[dbname]

tip

A compute endpoint hostname starts with an ep- prefix. You can also find a compute endpoint hostname on the Branches page in the Neon Console. See View branches.

If you want to connect from an application, the Connection Details widget on the project Dashboard and the Guides section in the documentation provide connection examples for various languages and frameworks. For more information about connecting, see Connect from any application.

Reset a branch from parent

When working with database branches, you might find yourself in a situation where you need to update your working branch to the latest data from your main branch. For example, let's say you have two child branches staging and development forked from your main branch. You have been working on the development branch and find it is now too far out of date with main. You have no schema changes in development to consider or preserve; you just want a quick refresh of the data. With the Reset from parent feature, you can perform a clean reset to the latest data from the parent in a single operation, saving you the complication of manually creating and restoring branches.

Key points:

  • You can only reset a branch to the latest data from its parent. Point-in-time resets based on timestamp or LSN are not currently supported.
  • This reset is a complete overwrite, not a refresh or a merge. Any local changes made to the child branch are lost during this reset.
  • Existing connections will be temporarily interrupted during the reset. However, your connection details do not change. All connections are re-established as soon as the reset is done.

On the Branches page in the Neon Console, select the branch that you want to reset.

The console opens to the details page for your branch, giving you key information about the branch and its child status: its parent, the last time it was reset, and other relevent detail.

To reset the branch, select Reset from parent from either the More dropdown or the Last Data Reset panel.

Reset from parent

note

If this branch has children of its own, resetting is blocked. The resulting error dialog lets you delete these child branches, after which you can continue with the reset.

Delete a branch

Deleting a branch is a permanent action. Deleting a branch also deletes the databases and roles that belong to the branch as well as the compute endpoint associated with the branch. You cannot delete a branch that has child branches. The child branches must be deleted first.

To delete a branch:

  1. In the Neon Console, select a project.
  2. Select Branches.
  3. Select a branch from the table.
  4. On the branch page, click the More drop-down menu and select Delete.
  5. On the confirmation dialog, click Delete.

Check the data size

Tier limits define the amount of data you can store in a branch. The Neon Free Tier permits 3 GiB per branch. When creating a new branch, the child branch includes the data from the parent branch. For example, if you have a branch with 1 GiB of data, the child branch is created with the same 1 GiB of data.

You can check the data size for a branch by viewing the Database size value on the branch details page (see View branches). Alternatively, you can run the following query from the Neon SQL Editor:

SELECT pg_size_pretty(sum(pg_database_size(datname)))
FROM pg_database;

info

Neon stores data in its own internal format.

Branching with the Neon CLI

The Neon CLI supports creating and managing branches. For instructions, see Neon CLI commands — branches. For a Neon CLI branching guide, see Branching with the Neon CLI.

Branching with the Neon API

Branch actions performed in the Neon Console can also be performed using the Neon API. The following examples demonstrate how to create, view, and delete branches using the Neon API. For other branch-related API methods, refer to the Neon API reference.

note

The API examples that follow may not show all of the user-configurable request body attributes that are available to you. To view all of the attributes for a particular method, refer to the method's request body schema in the Neon API reference.

The jq option specified in each example is an optional third-party tool that formats the JSON response, making it easier to read. For information about this utility, see jq.

Prerequisites

A Neon API request requires an API key. For information about obtaining an API key, see Create an API key. In the examples shown below, $NEON_API_KEY is specified in place of an actual API key, which you must provide when making a Neon API request.

Create a branch with the API

The following Neon API method creates a branch. To view the API documentation for this method, refer to the Neon API reference.

POST /projects/{project_id}/branches

The API method appears as follows when specified in a cURL command. The endpoints attribute creates a compute endpoint, which is required to connect to the branch. A branch can be created with or without a compute endpoint. The branch attribute specifies the parent branch.

note

This method does not require a request body. Without a request body, the method creates a branch from the project's primary branch, and a compute endpoint is not created.

curl 'https://console.neon.tech/api/v2/projects/autumn-disk-484331/branches' \
  -H 'Accept: application/json' \
  -H "Authorization: Bearer $NEON_API_KEY" \
  -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
  -d '{
  "endpoints": [
    {
      "type": "read_write"
    }
  ],
  "branch": {
    "parent_id": "br-wispy-dew-591433"
  }
}' | jq
  • The project_id for a Neon project is found on the Project settings page in the Neon Console, or you can find it by listing the projects for your Neon account using the Neon API.
  • The parent_id can be obtained by listing the branches for your project. See List branches. The <parent_id> is the id of the branch you are branching from. A branch id has a br- prefix. You can branch from your Neon project's primary branch or a previously created branch.

The response body includes information about the branch, the branch's compute endpoint, and the create_branch and start_compute operations that were initiated.

Response body
{
  "branch": {
    "id": "br-dawn-scene-747675",
    "project_id": "autumn-disk-484331",
    "parent_id": "br-wispy-dew-591433",
    "parent_lsn": "0/1AA6408",
    "name": "br-dawn-scene-747675",
    "current_state": "init",
    "pending_state": "ready",
    "created_at": "2022-12-08T19:55:43Z",
    "updated_at": "2022-12-08T19:55:43Z"
  },

  "endpoints": [
    {
      "host": "ep-small-bush-675287.us-east-2.aws.neon.tech",
      "id": "ep-small-bush-675287",
      "project_id": "autumn-disk-484331",
      "branch_id": "br-dawn-scene-747675",
      "autoscaling_limit_min_cu": 1,
      "autoscaling_limit_max_cu": 1,
      "region_id": "aws-us-east-2",
      "type": "read_write",
      "current_state": "init",
      "pending_state": "active",
      "settings": {
        "pg_settings": {}
      },
      "pooler_enabled": false,
      "pooler_mode": "transaction",
      "disabled": false,
      "passwordless_access": true,
      "created_at": "2022-12-08T19:55:43Z",
      "updated_at": "2022-12-08T19:55:43Z",
      "proxy_host": "us-east-2.aws.neon.tech"
    }
  ],
  "operations": [
    {
      "id": "22acbb37-209b-4b90-a39c-8460090e1329",
      "project_id": "autumn-disk-484331",
      "branch_id": "br-dawn-scene-747675",
      "action": "create_branch",
      "status": "running",
      "failures_count": 0,
      "created_at": "2022-12-08T19:55:43Z",
      "updated_at": "2022-12-08T19:55:43Z"
    },
    {
      "id": "055b17e6-ffe3-47ab-b545-cfd7db6fd8b8",
      "project_id": "autumn-disk-484331",
      "branch_id": "br-dawn-scene-747675",
      "endpoint_id": "ep-small-bush-675287",
      "action": "start_compute",
      "status": "scheduling",
      "failures_count": 0,
      "created_at": "2022-12-08T19:55:43Z",
      "updated_at": "2022-12-08T19:55:43Z"
    }
  ]
}

List branches with the API

The following Neon API method lists branches for the specified project. To view the API documentation for this method, refer to the Neon API reference.

GET /projects/{project_id}/branches

The API method appears as follows when specified in a cURL command:

curl 'https://console.neon.tech/api/v2/projects/autumn-disk-484331/branches' \
  -H 'accept: application/json' \
  -H "Authorization: Bearer $NEON_API_KEY" | jq

The project_id for a Neon project is found on the Project settings page in the Neon Console, or you can find it by listing the projects for your Neon account using the Neon API.

The response body lists the project's primary branch and any child branches. The name of the primary branch in this example is main.

Response body
{
  "branches": [
    {
      "id": "br-dawn-scene-747675",
      "project_id": "autumn-disk-484331",
      "parent_id": "br-wispy-dew-591433",
      "parent_lsn": "0/1AA6408",
      "name": "br-dawn-scene-747675",
      "current_state": "ready",
      "logical_size": 28,
      "created_at": "2022-12-08T19:55:43Z",
      "updated_at": "2022-12-08T19:55:43Z"
    },
    {
      "id": "br-wispy-dew-591433",
      "project_id": "autumn-disk-484331",
      "name": "main",
      "current_state": "ready",
      "logical_size": 28,
      "physical_size": 31,
      "created_at": "2022-12-07T00:45:05Z",
      "updated_at": "2022-12-07T00:45:05Z"
    }
  ]
}

Delete a branch with the API

The following Neon API method deletes the specified branch. To view the API documentation for this method, refer to the Neon API reference.

DELETE /projects/{project_id}/branches/{branch_id}

The API method appears as follows when specified in a cURL command:

curl -X 'DELETE' \
  'https://console.neon.tech/api/v2/projects/autumn-disk-484331/branches/br-dawn-scene-747675' \
  -H 'accept: application/json' \
  -H "Authorization: Bearer $NEON_API_KEY" | jq
  • The project_id for a Neon project is found on the Project settings page in the Neon Console, or you can find it by listing the projects for your Neon account using the Neon API.
  • The branch_id can be found by listing the branches for your project. The <branch_id> is the id of a branch. A branch id has a br- prefix. See List branches.

The response body shows information about the branch being deleted and the suspend_compute and delete_timeline operations that were initiated.

Response body
{
  "branch": {
    "id": "br-dawn-scene-747675",
    "project_id": "autumn-disk-484331",
    "parent_id": "br-shy-meadow-151383",
    "parent_lsn": "0/1953508",
    "name": "br-flat-darkness-194551",
    "current_state": "ready",
    "created_at": "2022-12-08T20:01:31Z",
    "updated_at": "2022-12-08T20:01:31Z"
  },
  "operations": [
    {
      "id": "c7ee9bea-c984-41ac-8672-9848714104bc",
      "project_id": "autumn-disk-484331",
      "branch_id": "br-dawn-scene-747675",
      "endpoint_id": "ep-small-bush-675287",
      "action": "suspend_compute",
      "status": "running",
      "failures_count": 0,
      "created_at": "2022-12-08T20:01:31Z",
      "updated_at": "2022-12-08T20:01:31Z"
    },
    {
      "id": "41646f65-c692-4621-9538-32265f74ffe5",
      "project_id": "autumn-disk-484331",
      "branch_id": "br-dawn-scene-747675",
      "action": "delete_timeline",
      "status": "scheduling",
      "failures_count": 0,
      "created_at": "2022-12-06T01:12:10Z",
      "updated_at": "2022-12-06T01:12:10Z"
    }
  ]
}

You can verify that a branch is deleted by listing the branches for your project. See List branches. The deleted branch should no longer be listed.

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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