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FAQs - Using TimescaleDB

What can I use TimescaleDB for?

TimescaleDB is ideal for time-series workloads that would benefit from a SQL interface. SQL carries a variety of benefits: a query language that most developers already know; rich set of functions and utilities; and a broad ecosystem of tools, connectors, and visualization options. Also, since SQL JOINS are natively supported in TimescaleDB, data from different sources can be combined at query time (e.g., combining relational data stored in PostgreSQL tables with time-series data stored in TimescaleDB hypertables). This ability to store relational data alongside time-series data enables developers to simplify their stack, potentially reducing complex polyglot architectures to a single operational analytical database.

Owing to these advantages, TimescaleDB is currently deployed across a variety of industries, including manufacturing, energy, utilities, mining, oil and gas, finance, ad tech, smart spaces, and more. Use cases include complex monitoring and analytics; predicting the performance and behavior of applications, models, consumers and connected machines; powering operational analytical workflows and dashboards; for QA and performance testing.

How do I write data?

Just via normal SQL, but here are some insert examples.

How do I read data?

Just via normal SQL, but here are some query examples.

What are my compression options?

Since v1.5, TimescaleDB has supported native compression that uses a hybrid row/columnar approach combined with type-specific compression algorithms (e.g., different compression algorithms for timestamps, integers, floats, strings, or other data). Many users see between a 90-98% reduction in their storage footprint, leading to significant cost savings (and other query performance improvements). Note that compression must be explicitly turned on and configured for a hypertable; compression is by default off. For more details about how to use TimescaleDB ncompression, please see our compression docs or a longer technical deep-dive on our blog .

How far can TimescaleDB scale?

In our internal benchmarks on standard cloud VMs, we regularly test single-node TimescaleDB to 100s of terabytes of data, while sustaining insert rates of 100-200k rows / second (1-2 million metric inserts / second). Multi-node TimescaleDB can scale to 10+ million metric inserts / second, and store petabytes of data. You can read more about insert and query benchmarks for multi-node TimescaleDB.

TimescaleDB is designed to combine the scalability of popular NoSQL databases, with the native query complexity supported by RDBMS systems. Read on for more details on clustering.

How does TimescaleDB scale?

TimescaleDB's architecture leverages two key properties of time-series data:

  • Time-series data is largely immutable. New data continually arrives, typically as writes (inserts) to the latest time intervals, not as updates to existing records.
  • Workloads have a natural partitioning across both time and space.

TimescaleDB leverages these properties by automatically partitioning data into two-dimensional "chunks" (i.e., smaller PostgreSQL tables), performing operations and optimizing query planning across all chunks. This partitioning of the data into chunks ensures that recent tables' indexes are kept in memory as data is inserted into the database. Yet all this complexity is abstracted away from the user and they are exposed to a single table interface (a "hypertable") that functions exactly as a normal table in PostgreSQL does. For more information, see this blog post: Time-series data: Why (and how) to use a relational database instead of NoSQL.

What are hypertables and chunks?

Our documentation describes these design elements in more depth.

How should I configure chunking?

See the Best Practices section of our documentation.

How are hypertable chunks determined across the space dimension?

All hypertable chunks are partitioned automatically across time, which is necessary for right-sizing the chunks such that the B-trees for a table's indexes can reside in memory during inserts to avoid thrashing that would otherwise occur while modifying arbitrary locations in those trees. In addition, the user has the option when creating the hypertable to partition across the space dimension (partition key) on something like a device id, customer id, or other unique id. Space partitions use hashing: Every distinct item is hashed to one of N buckets. The main purpose of space partitioning is to enable parallel I/O to the same time interval or to build smaller tables when regularly performing a range query for a single device/customer/ticker. For more details on space partitioning, see Best Practices.

How do I install TimescaleDB?

See our install documentation.

How do I update an existing installation?

See our updating documentation.

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