Azure Database for PostgreSQL: Fast facts

Pricing: Pay as you go model.

Key features

  • AI-powered intelligent performance optimization.
  • Geospatial support.
  • Postgres version 11 supports up to 37 extensions.
  • Integration with Cloud Services.
  • Automated backups.

PostgreSQL is a scalable, extensible SQL database that uses familiar queries and interfaces to give users a database that’s able to handle most necessary operations. Microsoft’s acquisition of Citus Data made it a significant contributor to the project, and Citus continues to develop its open-source extension, which adds scalable queries and distributed tables.

Its scalability means Microsoft can offer three different classes of Azure-hosted PostgreSQL: Single Server, Flexible Server and Hyperscale. In this guide, we analyzed the offerings of Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server as well as its features, pricing, merits and demerits. Although Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server is a solid tool, it may not serve the needs of all users, so we also reviewed some noteworthy alternatives for you to consider.

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Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server pricing

Microsoft Azure gives new users a $200 credit to use within 30 days when they sign up, allowing them to try the platform before making a financial commitment. After the trial, Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server offers a usage-based pricing model, meaning users only pay for the resources they use.

Depending on instance needs, users can select one of the available pricing tiers: Burstable, General Purpose and Memory Optimized. These allow you to tune the compute, memory and storage options.

Pricing is based on a number of factors, including location, number of vCores and memory. Those interested can explore Azure’s pricing calculator for Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server or contact the sales team for a custom quote.

Key features of Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server

A managed database like this is a useful tool for developers who want a reliable, fast database without the management overhead that comes from rolling out their own servers. Microsoft automates PostgreSQL updates with the option of controlling when those updates are applied. It will manage backups for you with up to 35 days of retention. It’s also simple to configure a reliable failover architecture, so users can keep services up even if they lose their primary Azure PostgreSQL instance.

Here are the key features of Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server:

Support for dozens of extensions

PostgreSQL allows users to leverage the functionality and capability of other tools through extensions (Figure A). Extensions combine several related SQL objects together in a single package, functioning like a built-in feature after being loaded in the database.

Figure A

Azure extension parameters.
Azure extension parameters. Image: Microsoft

It can be added or removed from the database with a command. Users can install an extension by running the create extension command from the psql tool to load the packaged objects into the database.

Different deployment options

Azure Database for PostgreSQL has three deployment options, including single server, flexible server and Hyperscale. Single Server is the familiar PostgreSQL found in most Linux distributions, while Hyperscale builds on Citus’ tooling to give users a global SQL database.

However, it’s the Flexible Server option that’s perhaps the most interesting, as it gives users a serverless, scalable database that can add compute capability as needed and even drop down to zero when not needed. While it builds on the same foundation as the Hyperscale release, it’s a single Linux virtual machine running on its own server, with compute and storage in the same Azure availability zone.

Automated patching and updates

Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server provides automatic backups and point-in-time restore capabilities, ensuring data is always protected and recoverable in the event of a failure. It also offers automated patching and updates to keep databases secure and up to date, reducing the administrative burden (Figure B).

Figure B

Enabling automated patching.
Enabling automated patching. Image: Microsoft

Burstable instances

One important feature is the ability to use Flexible instances for burstable computes. These are instances built on B-series Azure VMs. They start with 1 or 2 cores, and 2GB or 4GB of memory.

Burstable VMs work by running at relatively low power for most of the time, building up credits that can be used to boost performance when needed. For a B1 series VM, they have a 10% baseline that boosts to 100%; and for a B2 series VM, they have a baseline at 40% and boost to 200%. This approach can save money, as performance is only paid for as it’s needed (Figure C).

Figure C

Azure Database for PostgreSQL cost optimization.
Azure Database for PostgreSQL cost optimization. Image: Microsoft

Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server pros and cons


  • Fast and low-latency server.
  • Storage for databases and logs across zones to increase reliability.
  • Intuitive user interface.
  • Reportedly easy-to-manage platform.


  • Some users reported that the pricing doesn’t favor small businesses.
  • There is a steep learning curve for inexperienced users.

Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server alternatives

SoftwareAzure Database for PostgreSQLAmazon RDS for PostgreSQLGoogle Cloud SQL for PostgreSQLHeroku Postgres
Compliance with industry standards YesYesYesYes
Supported PostgreSQL versions9.5, 9.6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 159.6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 159.6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 159.6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15
PostgreSQL Extensions SupportYesYesYesYes
Cost Estimation ToolsYesYesYesLimited
High Availability (Failover)YesYesYesYes
Starting price$0.017 per hour for 2GiB and 1vCores$0.016 per hour for db.t4g.micro$0.007 per GB per hour$0.007 per hour

Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL: Best for integration ease of use

The AWS logo.
Image: Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon Relational Database Service for PostgreSQL allows users to scale a PostgreSQL relational database in the cloud. It supports database instances running several versions of PostgreSQL from version 9.6 to 15. In addition, Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL is compatible with standard PostgreSQL tools and libraries, so users can use familiar tools to interact with their databases.

Similar to Azure Database for PostgreSQL, the service is available on a pay-as-you-go basis, and Amazon allows interested users to purchase Reserved Instances for a one or three-year term at a discounted rate.

Google Cloud SQL for PostgreSQL: Best for features

Google Cloud logo.
Image: Google

With Google Cloud SQL for PostgreSQL, users can set up, manage and administer PostgreSQL relational databases on the Google Cloud Platform. Google Cloud SQL for PostgreSQL is available in multiple regions and zones, allowing businesses to deploy their databases close to their users for low-latency access.

The service performs 10 key operations, including backups, high availability and failover data encryption, network connectivity, storage, export and import, replication, maintenance and updates, monitoring and logging.

Pricing for this tool varies based on configuration settings, storage, CPU and memory needs.

Heroku Postgres: Best for developers

Logo for Heroku.
Image: Heroku

Heroku Postgres allows developers to provision, manage and scale PostgreSQL databases without having to worry about infrastructure setup and performance tuning. To ensure compliance with industry standards for data protection, ​Heroku Shield Postgres​ delivers PCI, HIPAA, ISO and SOC ​compliance.

Heroku offers various plans — from mini to private plans — with different features and capacities, allowing developers to choose the one that suits their application’s needs.

Review methodology

To write this review, we gathered information about Azure Database for PostgreSQL and its alternatives from their official websites, documentation and explainer videos. We also collected user review data from review sites to learn about current and past users’ experiences with the services.

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