February 8, 2023 By Matthew Rathbone *

PostgreSQL is a powerful and popular open-source relational database management system. However, like all technologies, it has its limitations.

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No horizontal scaling

One of the main limitations of PostgreSQL is its lack of support for horizontal scaling. This means that as the workload on a PostgreSQL database increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to distribute the load across multiple machines to improve performance. In contrast, other database systems such as MongoDB and Cassandra offer support for horizontal scaling, which can make them more suitable for applications that require high levels of performance and scalability.

Lack of NoSQL Features

Another limitation of PostgreSQL is its lack of support for some NoSQL features. NoSQL databases are increasingly popular for their ability to store and process unstructured data, such as the large amounts of data generated by social media and other web-based applications. While PostgreSQL does offer some NoSQL features, such as the ability to store JSON documents, it does not support other NoSQL features like automatic sharding and flexible data model. This makes it less suitable for applications that require these types of capabilities.

Complex to manage

Additionally, PostgreSQL can be complex to set up and manage, especially for users who are not experienced with relational database systems. While there are tools and services available to help with this, such as the pgAdmin management tool and managed database services like AWS RDS, the learning curve can still be steep for inexperienced users. This can make it more difficult for small businesses and startups to get up and running with PostgreSQL.

Not great for analytics workloads

Finally, PostgreSQL is not designed well for large analytics or reporting queries that require large table scans, but only need data from a few columns. For such workloads a database like Redshift, Snowflake, or Vertica may be more suitable.

Wrap up

Overall, while PostgreSQL is a powerful and popular database system, its lack of support for horizontal scaling and some NoSQL features, as well as its complexity, can make it less suitable for certain types of applications and users.