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PostgreSQL, also known as Postgres, is a free and open-source relational database management system emphasizing extensibility and SQL compliance.


Hightouch lets you pull data stored in your PostgreSQL database and push it to downstream destinations. Most of the setup occurs in the Hightouch UI, but you need access to your PostgreSQL instance for information like your host, port, database name, and credentials.

You need to allowlist Hightouch's IP addresses to let our systems contact your warehouse. Reference our networking docs to determine which IPs you need to allowlist.

Connection configuration

To get started, go to the Sources overview page and click the Add source button. Select PostgreSQL and follow the steps below.

Choose connection type

Hightouch can connect directly to PostgreSQL over the public internet or via an SSH tunnel. Since data is encrypted in transit via TLS, a direct connection is suitable for most use cases. You may need to set up a tunnel if your PostgreSQL instance is on a private network or virtual private cloud (VPC).

Direct connection vs. SSH tunnel

Hightouch supports both standard and reverse SSH tunnels. To learn more about SSH tunneling, refer to Hightouch's tunneling documentation.

Configure your source

Enter the following required fields into Hightouch:

  • Host: The hostname or IP address of your PostgreSQL server.
  • Port: The port number of your PostgreSQL server. The default port number is 5432, but yours may be different.
  • Database: This specifies the database to use when Hightouch executes queries in PostgreSQL.

Choose your sync engine

For optimal performance, Hightouch tracks incremental changes in your data model—such as added, changed, or removed rows—and only syncs those records. You can choose between two different sync engines for this work.

The standard engine requires read-only access to PostgreSQL. Hightouch executes a query in your database, reads all query results, and then determines incremental changes using Hightouch's infrastructure. This engine is easier to set up since it requires read—not write—access to PostgreSQL.

The Lightning engine requires read and write access to PostgreSQL. The engine stores previously synced data in a separate schema in PostgreSQL managed by Hightouch. In other words, the engine uses PostgreSQL to track incremental changes to your data rather than performing these calculations in Hightouch. Therefore, these computations are completed more quickly.

Standard vs Lightning engine comparison
Hightouch recommends using the Lightning sync engine when syncing more than one million rows of data.

If you select the standard engine, you can switch to the Lightning engine later. Once you've configured the Lightning engine, you can't move back to the standard engine without recreating PostgreSQL as a source.

To learn more, including migration steps and tips, check out the Lightning sync engine docs.

Standard versus Lightning engine comparison

Standard sync engineLightning sync engine
Required permissions in PostgreSQLRead-onlyRead and write
Location of change data captureHightouch infrastructurePostgreSQL schemas managed by Hightouch
Sync speedSlowerQuicker
Ease of setupSimplerMore involved
Ability to switchYou can move to the Lightning engine at any timeYou can't move to the standard engine once you've configured Lightning

Lightning engine setup

To set up the Lightning engine, you need to grant Hightouch write access to PostgreSQL. You can do so by running the following SQL snippet.

CREATE USER hightouch_user WITH PASSWORD '********';
CREATE SCHEMA IF NOT EXISTS hightouch_planner;
GRANT CREATE, USAGE ON SCHEMA hightouch_audit TO hightouch_user;
GRANT CREATE, USAGE ON SCHEMA hightouch_planner TO hightouch_user;

The snippet creates a dedicated PostgreSQL user for Hightouch. It also provisions two schemas (hightouch_planner and hightouch_audit) for storing logs of previously synced data.

Provide credentials

Enter the following fields into Hightouch:

  • User: This can be your personal PostgreSQL login or a dedicated user for Hightouch. At minimum, this user must have read access to the data you wish to sync. If using the Lightning sync engine, you must also grant this user additional permissions as described above.
  • Password: The password for the user specified above.

Test your connection

When setting up a source for the first time, Hightouch validates the following:

  • Network connectivity
  • PostgreSQL credentials
  • Permission to list schemas and tables
  • Permission to write to hightouch_planner schema
  • Permission to write to hightouch_audit schema

All configurations must pass the first three, while those with the Lightning engine must pass all of them.

Some sources may initially fail connection tests due to timeouts. Once a connection is established, subsequent API requests should happen more quickly, so it's best to retry tests if they first fail. You can do this by clicking Test again.

If you've retried the tests and verified your credentials are correct but the tests are still failing, don't hesitate to .

Next steps

Once your source configuration has passed the necessary validation, your source setup is complete. Next, you can set up models to define which data you want to pull from PostgreSQL.

The PostgreSQL source supports these modeling methods:

You may also want to consider storing sync logs in PostgreSQL. Like using the Lightning sync engine versus the standard one, this feature lets you use PostgreSQL instead of Hightouch infrastructure. Rather than performance gains, it makes your sync log data available for more complex analysis. Refer to the warehouse sync logs docs to learn more.

You must enable the Lightning sync engine to store sync logs in your warehouse.

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Last updated: Feb 17, 2023

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OverviewConnection configurationChoose connection typeConfigure your sourceChoose your sync engineProvide credentialsTest your connectionNext steps

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