Retention Policy

Edit this page

Setting retention policy options allows to remove obsolete backups. Those settings will then be a trade-off between saving space and data retention.

Full backup retention

Full backup retention is determined by the repo1-retention-full-type and repo1-retention-full options.

The repo1-retention-full-type option can be set to count (default) to retain a specific number of full backups. As an example, if repo1-retention-full-type=count and repo1-retention-full=2, pgBackRest will retain the 2 last successful full backups.

Alternatively the repo1-retention-full-type option can be set to time to retain full backups for a specific time duration. With this configuration, at least one full backup older than the retention period will remain to fulfill the retention requirement. All other full backups older than the repo1-retention-full value, measured in days, will be removed from the repository. As an example, if repo1-retention-full-type=time and repo1-retention-full=30 (days), one full backup older than 30 days will be preserved. If in this example the repository would hold five full backups - one 25 days old, one 35 days old, and the rest older - the 35-days-old full backup would still be required to restore to the period between 30 and 25 days ago, and as such is kept even though it is older than the configured retention period. All other older backups will be removed during retention maintenance.

When a full backup expires, all differential and incremental backups associated with it will also expire. When the repo1-retention-full option is not defined, a warning will be issued.

Archived WAL files that are older than the remaining oldest full backup will be automatically removed, but this behavior can be changed with the archive retention settings (repo1-retention-archive-type and repo1-retention-archive).

Set the repo1-retention-full option to its maximum value (9999999) to retain all backups indefinitely.

Differential backup retention

Differential backup retention is determined by the repo1-retention-diff option.

When a differential backup expires, all incremental backups associated with the differential backup will also expire.

When not defined, all differential backups will be retained until the dependent full backups expires.

Archive retention

pgBackRest allows to define a specific retention policy for archives.

:warning: pgBackRest relies on backup start location to define the archives to clean. In some cases, the oldest archived WAL file in the repository might be older than the first backup start location, in which case it will not be removed until the first backup expires.


The repo1-retention-archive-type option can be set to define the backup types counted for WAL retention.

If the repo1-retention-archive-type option is set to full (default), pgBackRest will keep archived WAL files for the number of full backups as defined by repo1-retention-archive.

If the repo1-retention-archive-type option is set to diff (differential), pgBackRest will keep archives for the number of full and differential backups defined by repo1-retention-archive. As an example, if the last backup taken was a full backup, it will be counted as a differential for the purpose of the repository retention.

If the repo1-retention-archive-type option is set to incr (incremental), pgBackRest will keep archives for the number of full, differential, and incremental backups defined by repo1-retention-archive.

:warning: It is recommended to keep the repo1-retention-archive-type option with its default, in which case archives will be removed along with full backups.


The repo1-retention-archive option can be set to define the number of backups preserved for continuous WAL retention.

:warning: WAL segments required to make a backup consistent (based on the full and differential backups retention policies) are always retained until the backup expires regardless of how the repo1-retention-archive option is configured.

The repo1-retention-archive is highly dependent on other options:

  • If repo1-retention-full-type is set to time, then the repo1-retention-archive value will default to removing archived WAL files that are older than the oldest full backup retained after satisfying the repo1-retention-full setting.

  • When repo1-retention-archive-type is set to incr, the repo1-retention-archive must be set.

  • If the repo1-retention-archive value is not set, and repo1-retention-full-type is set to count (default), then the repo1-retention-archive-type value defines how archives will expire: when repo1-retention-archive-type is set to full or diff, archives expiry will default to the repo1-retention-full or repo1-retention-diff respectively. This configuration will ensure that the archived WAL files are only removed for corresponding expired backups.

Using the repo1-retention-archive setting in conjunction with repo1-retention-archive-type can reclaim disk-space by removing extra WAL segments. This configuration is not recommended as it negates the ability to perform point-in-time recovery from the backups with expired WAL.



repo-retention-archive-type repo-retention-archive repo-retention-diff repo-retention-full-type repo-retention-full

Could this page could be better? Report a problem or suggest an addition!