Importing and Exporting Data in PostgreSQL


Effectively managing data is a key aspect of database administration. In PostgreSQL, scenarios often arise where data needs to be exported from one database and imported into another. This post will detail a practical approach to exporting data from a PostgreSQL table and then importing it into another database using command-line tools.

Exporting Data from PostgreSQL


You want to export data from a specific table, named Application, in a case-sensitive manner from a PostgreSQL database.

Solution: Using pg_dump

pg_dump is a utility provided by PostgreSQL for backing up a database. It can export data in a format suitable for later restoration or transfer to another database.

pg_dump -U acme_db_sandbox_user -h localhost -d acme_db_sandbox -t '"Application"' --column-inserts --data-only > output.sql
  • -U acme_db_sandbox_user: Specifies the user for database connection.
  • -h localhost: Targets the local machine for the database server.
  • -d acme_db_sandbox: Specifies the database from which to export.
  • -t '"Application"': Indicates the case-sensitive name of the table to export.
  • --column-inserts: Ensures the generation of INSERT statements with column names.
  • --data-only: Excludes database schema (structure) from the export, focusing only on the data.
  • > output.sql: Redirects the exported data to output.sql.

This command generates an SQL file (output.sql) containing INSERT statements for each row in the Application table.

Importing Data into PostgreSQL


Now, you need to import the previously exported data into a different database.

Solution: Using psql

psql is a command-line interface used to interact with PostgreSQL. It allows you to execute SQL queries and run scripts.

psql -h localhost -U acme_billing_db_sandbox_user -d acme_billing_db_sandbox -W -f output.sql
  • -h localhost: Connects to the PostgreSQL server on the local machine.
  • -U acme_billing_db_sandbox_user: Specifies the user for the target database.
  • -d acme_billing_db_sandbox: Designates the target database.
  • -W: Prompts for the user’s password as a security measure.
  • -f output.sql: Executes the SQL commands in output.sql.

This command imports the data from output.sql into the specified database. Ensure that the target database has the appropriate table structure to accommodate the data.


Transferring data between PostgreSQL databases can be efficiently handled using command-line tools like pg_dump and psql. This process involves exporting data in SQL format using pg_dump and then importing it with psql. This approach is particularly useful for database administrators and developers looking to manage data across different environments or systems.

Remember, accurate knowledge of your database schema and careful command execution are key to successful data transfer. Happy database managing!

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