Setting up TimescaleDB 2.0 multi-node on Timescale Cloud

TimescaleDB 2.0 introduces a number of new features to supercharge time-series data even further. One of the most anticipated new features is what we call multi-node - the ability to create a cluster of TimescaleDB instances to scale both reads and writes.

In this How To, we'll show you how to create a multi-node cluster in your Timescale Cloud account using TimescaleDB 2.0.

This document details a "do-it-yourself" (DIY) multi-node experience on Cloud. In the future, we will offer a seamless point-and-click multi-node experience within the Timescale Cloud console UI, but we wanted to provide a way for users to setup and test this feature before that interface is available.

If you’re ready to set up a TimescaleDB multi-node cluster as part of your Timescale Cloud account, continue on! If you want to follow along but don't yet have a Timescale Cloud account, sign-up today for a 100% free, 30-day trial!

Overview of multi-node setup

Multi-node clusters consist of at least two or more TimescaleDB instances (called Services in Timescale Cloud). Each cluster has one access node (AN) and one or more data nodes (DN). As outlined in our architecture blog posts, the access node is intended to be the only TimescaleDB instance that you or your applications connect to once the cluster is set up. It becomes the "brains" and traffic controller of all distributed hypertable activity. In contrast, data nodes are not intended to be accessed directly once joined to a multi-node cluster.


A proper TimescaleDB cluster should have at least two data nodes to begin realizing the benefits of distributed hypertables. While it is technically possible to add just one data node to a cluster, this will perform worse than a single-node TimescaleDB instance and is not recommended.

Create services for access and data nodes

First, you need to create new Services within your Cloud account. As mentioned earlier, you should create at least three Services to set up a multi-node cluster: one access node and two data nodes.

There is currently no way to distinguish between the access node and data nodes within the Timescale Cloud console, so we strongly recommend that you include "an" and "dn" in the names of each service, respectively. For example, use "an-mycluster", "dn1-mycluster", and "dn2-mycluster". To prevent problems later on, always use all lowercase names for your new nodes. Services can only assume one role in a cluster (access or data node), and only one Service can act as the access node.

For simplicity you can start with the same hardware configuration for all Services. On Timescale Cloud, Service configuration can be modified later to better tune access and data node requirements.


More advanced users might consider using larger disks on data nodes (this is where the distributed hypertable data is stored) and more memory and CPU for the access node.


Services created prior to January 2021 may be running TimescaleDB v1.7.4 or earlier. We recommend creating a new Service when setting up multi-node, although some earlier Services may be upgradable to v2.x.

Modify access node settings

The hard work of handling distributed queries in a multi-node cluster is handled by TimescaleDB for you. Some queries, however, will work better in a distributed environment when parameters allow TimescaleDB to more efficiently push down some types of queries to the data nodes, or not have JIT interfere with a distributed planning process.

To that end, we highly recommend these settings be modified for the Access Node only under the Settings tab, shown in the Customize database configuration documentation.

  • jit = off
  • max_prepared_transactions > 0 (150 is a recommended starting value)
  • enable_partitionwise_aggregate = on

Add data nodes to the cluster

Once you've created your new Services, you'll enable communication between the access node and all data nodes. The currently supported method for securing communication between nodes is through user mapping authentication.

This is also a manual process for now. As we continue to develop Timescale Cloud and multi-node functionality, this process will be a much smoother user experience, completed directly from the Timescale Cloud Console.

About user mapping authentication

User mapping authentication allows users to continue connecting with the tsdbadmin PostgreSQL user for all data access and cluster management. It also allows you to continue making secure (SSL) connections to your Timescale Cloud Access node.

With user mapping authentication, you don’t need to manage any new users, however, you need to have the passwords for the tsdbadmin user from each data node you will be adding to the cluster.

The main limitation of this approach is that any password changes to the connected tsdbadmin user on a data node will break the mapping connection and impact normal cluster operations. Any time a password is changed on a data node, you'll need to complete the mapping process outlined below to re-establish the connection between the access node and the affected data node. You can read about user mapping in the PostgreSQL documentation.

Add each data node using the internal host

For this step, you'll need to copy the Internal host listed under the Multi-node Connection Info heading of the Service details. For every Service, we display the primary, external connection information and the local connection information that is used when setting up Service-to-Service, multi-node connections. Copy this hostname to use in the add_data_node command below.

Once you have the password and internal, Multi-node hostname for each data node Service, connect to the access node using the tsdbadmin user.

psql -h {AN hostname} -p {port} tsdb tsdbadmin

Then add a data node:

SELECT add_data_node('dn1', host => 'your_DN1_hostname',
    password => 'tsdbadmin_user_password_for_DN1');

To list added data nodes we can run \des+ command if using psql:

tsdb=> \des+
List of foreign servers
-[ RECORD 1 ]--------+------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Name                 | dn1
Owner                | multinode
Foreign-data wrapper | timescaledb_fdw
Access privileges    |
Type                 |
Version              |
FDW options          | (host 'fd71nenmk8-an.c8mhe44nad', port '5432', dbname 'tsdb')
Description          |

Add a user mapping for each data node

Now we can create a USER MAPPING that will enable communication between the access node and data node:

CREATE USER MAPPING FOR tsdbadmin SERVER dn1 OPTIONS (user 'tsdbadmin', password 'tsdbadmin_user_password_for_DN1');

Repeat these steps for each additional data node that you want to add to the cluster. Always invoke these commands from the access node!

Create a distributed hypertable

Finally, you can create a distributed hypertable and add data to verify that everything is set up and working correctly:

-- Create your regular table
CREATE TABLE sensor_data (
  sensor_id INTEGER,
  temperature DOUBLE PRECISION,

-- Convert the table to a distributed hypertable
SELECT create_distributed_hypertable('sensor_data', 'time', 'sensor_id');

-- Insert some test data to verify you are error free
INSERT INTO sensor_data VALUES  ('2020-12-09',1,32.2,0.45);

One major point to recognize about the SQL above is the declaration of a partition column (sensor_id) for the distributed hypertable. This is intentional, and recommended, for distributed hypertable setups. Previously, with regular, single-node hypertables, there was often little benefit in specifying a partition key when creating the hypertable. With distributed hyptertables, however, adding a partition key is essential to ensure that data is distributed across data nodes on something more than just time. Otherwise, all data for a specific time range will go to one chunk on one node, rather than being distributed across each data node for the same time range.

Adding additional database users (optional)

One of the other advantages of the user-mapping-based approach is that it allows us to add additional users to the multi-node cluster.

From the access node, create a new user and GRANT all privileges.

CREATE ROLE mn_user1 LOGIN PASSWORD 'password';

While connected to the access node we can use a specially designed function to execute SQL commands against data nodes. Notice that the list of nodes is included and for this example, it is assumed that both data nodes exist and are added to the access node.

CALL distributed_exec(query => 'CREATE ROLE mn_user1 LOGIN PASSWORD $$password$$', node_list => '{dn1,dn2}');
CALL distributed_exec(query => 'GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON ALL TABLES IN SCHEMA public TO mn_user1;', node_list => '{dn1,dn2}');

Finally we add a user mapping for our newly added user so that the AN can connect to the DN with the new user.

CREATE USER MAPPING FOR mn_user1 SERVER dn1 OPTIONS (user 'mn_user1', password 'password');

A few final reminders as you begin to explore the opportunities of a multi-node server:

  1. Multi-node clusters can still use regular, non-distributed features like regular hypertables, PostgreSQL tables, and continuous aggregations. The data stored in any of these object will reside only on the access node.
  2. There is no limitation on the number of distributed hypertables a user can create on the access node.
  3. Remember that once a Service is marked as an access node or data node, it cannot be used to create another TimescaleDB multi-node cluster.

Maintenance tasks

A multi-node TimescaleDB setup requires regular maintenance; in particular, the distributed transaction log needs to be cleaned up and non-completed transactions should be "healed". Refer to our standard multi-node documentation for instructions on how to configure a user-defined action for this task.


Now that you have a basic TimescaleDB multi-node cluster, consider using one of our large sample datasets to create more distributed hypertables, or consider using your new cluster as a target for Prometheus data via Promscale. Whatever your time-series data need, TimescaleDB multi-node opens up an entirely new level of opportunity for your time-series data.

And as always, consider joining our vibrant community Slack channel to ask questions and learn from Timescale staff and other community members.

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