Skip to content

How to deploy a standby cluster for Disaster Recovery

Deployment of a standby PostgreSQL cluster is mainly targeted for Disaster Recovery (DR), though it can also be used for migrations.

In both cases, it involves using some object storage system for backups, such as AWS S3 or GCP Cloud Storage, which the standby cluster can access:


  • there is a primary cluster with configured pgbackrest tool, which pushes the write-ahead log (WAL) archives to the correct remote repository,
  • the standby cluster is built from one of these backups, and it is kept in sync with the primary cluster by consuming the WAL files copied from the remote repository.


The primary node in the standby cluster is not a streaming replica from any of the nodes in the primary cluster. It relies only on WAL archives to replicate events. For this reason, this approach cannot be used as a High Availability solution.

Creating such a standby cluster involves the following steps:

  • Copy needed passwords from the primary cluster Secrets and adjust them to use the standby cluster name.


    You need the yq tool installed.

    The following commands save the secrets files from cluster1 under /tmp/copied-secrets directory and prepare them to be used in cluster2:

    $ mkdir -p /tmp/copied-secrets/
    $ export primary_cluster_name=cluster1
    $ export standby_cluster_name=cluster2
    $ export secrets="${primary_cluster_name}-users"
    $ kubectl get secret/$secrets -o yaml \
    yq eval 'del(.metadata.creationTimestamp)' - \
    yq eval 'del(.metadata.uid)' - \
    yq eval 'del(.metadata.selfLink)' - \
    yq eval 'del(.metadata.resourceVersion)' - \
    yq eval 'del(.metadata.namespace)' - \
    yq eval 'del(.metadata.annotations."")' - \
    yq eval ' = "'"${secrets/$primary_cluster_name/$standby_cluster_name}"'"' - \
    yq eval ' = "'"${standby_cluster_name}"'"' - \
  • Create the Operator in the Kubernetes environment for the standby cluster, if not done:

    $ kubectl apply -f deploy/operator.yaml
  • Apply the Adjusted Kubernetes Secrets:

    $ export standby_cluster_name=cluster2
    $ kubectl create -f /tmp/copied-secrets/${standby_cluster_name}-users
  • Set the backup.repoPath option in the deploy/cr.yaml file of your standby cluster to the actual place where the primary cluster stores backups. If this option is not set in deploy/cr.yaml of your primary cluster, then the following default naming is used: /backrestrepo/<primary-cluster-name>-backrest-shared-repo. For example, in case of myPrimaryCluster and myStandbyCluster clusters, it should look as follows:

      name: myStandbyCluster
        repoPath: "/backrestrepo/myPrimaryCluster-backrest-shared-repo"
  • Supply your standby cluster with the Kubernetes Secret used by pgBackRest of the primary cluster to Access the Storage Bucket. The name of this Secret is <cluster-name>-backrest-repo-config, and its content depends on the cloud used for backups (refer to the Operator’s backups documentation for this step). The contents of the Secret needs to be the same for both primary and standby clusters except for the name: e.g. cluster1-backrest-repo-config should be recreated as cluster2-backrest-repo-config.

  • Enable the standby option in your standby cluster’s deploy/cr.yaml file:

    standby: true

When you have applied your new cluster configuration with the usual kubectl -f deploy/cr.yaml command, it starts the synchronization via pgBackRest, and your Disaster Recovery preparations are over.

When you need to actually use your new cluster, get it out from standby mode, changing the standby option in your deploy/cr.yaml file:

standby: false

Please take into account, that your cluster1 cluster should not exist at the moment when you get out your cluster2 from standby:



If cluster1 still exists for some reason, make sure it can not connect to backup storage. Otherwise, both clusters sending WAL archives to it would cause data corruption!

Last update: 2024-06-28