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Disruptions caused by false alarms in highly available PostgreSQL clusters

False alarms can be a significant problem in highly available clusters of PostgreSQL. They can cause unnecessary downtime and disruptions that can impact the performance of the nodes. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, prevention, and resolution of false alarms in PostgreSQL clusters.

What Are False Alarms?

False alarms are situations where the monitoring tools for a PostgreSQL cluster report a problem, but in reality, there is no issue. False alarms can be triggered by a variety of factors, including transient network issues, temporary outages of nodes, and improperly configured monitoring tools.

The Impact of False Alarms in a Highly Available PostgreSQL Cluster

False alarms can be especially disruptive in highly available PostgreSQL clusters, where nodes are designed to take over each other’s workload in the event of a failure. A false alarm can trigger a failover, leading to unnecessary disruptions in the workload and potentially impacting the performance of the nodes.

Causes of False Alarms

There are several causes of false alarms in a highly available cluster of PostgreSQL, including:

  1. Incorrect Configuration: Monitoring tools must be properly configured and maintained to prevent false alarms. If thresholds are set too low or too high, it can result in false alarms.
  2. Network Issues: Network issues can also cause false alarms. Temporary network outages or network devices can lead to temporary connectivity issues that can trigger false alarms.
  3. Temporary outages: If a node experiences a temporary outage, it may trigger a false alarm, as the monitoring system may interpret it as a permanent failure.
  4. Hardware or Software Issues: Hardware or software issues can also trigger false alarms. These issues can include failing hardware, incompatible software, or bugs in the software.
  5. Human error: Human error, such as misconfiguring a node or failing to properly maintain the cluster, can also lead to false alarms.

Preventing False Alarms

To prevent false alarms, several steps can be taken, including:

  1. Proper Configuration: Monitoring tools should be properly configured with appropriate thresholds set to avoid false alarms.
  2. Regular Maintenance: Monitoring tools must be regularly maintained to ensure that they are up-to-date and functioning correctly.
  3. Test monitoring tools regularly: Regularly testing the monitoring tools can help to ensure that they are functioning correctly.
  4. Multiple Monitoring Tools: Using multiple monitoring tools can help cross-reference alerts and confirm that the reported issue is genuine. It can also aid in identifying the root cause of any issues.

Resolution of False Alarms

If a false alarm does occur, it is crucial to investigate the root cause of the issue to prevent it from happening again. The following steps can help in resolving false alarms:

  1. Check Logs: Check the logs of the cluster nodes, network devices, and other infrastructure components to identify any anomalies.
  2. Notify Stakeholders: Notify all stakeholders involved in the cluster’s operations to prevent any unnecessary action.
  3. Monitor Cluster Health: Monitor the cluster’s health closely to ensure that it is functioning correctly and no further false alarms are triggered.


False alarms can be disruptive in highly available clusters of PostgreSQL, but they can be prevented and resolved with the proper configuration and maintenance of monitoring tools. By using multiple monitoring tools and investigating the root cause of any false alarms, you can ensure the continued smooth operation of your PostgreSQL cluster.

A more abstract view of highly available PostgreSQL and its challenges is available in my previous blog: High availability made easy: A 100,000 ft view of auto failover in PostgreSQL.

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