How to Delete a Postgres User (Drop User)?


PostgreSQL, commonly known as Postgres, is a powerful open-source relational database management system that has been around for over 30 years. It is known for its robustness, scalability, and flexibility. It is also highly extensible and provides a wide range of features that make it suitable for a variety of applications such as business-critical systems, web applications, data warehousing and more.

As with any database management system, it is important to know how to manage users in Postgres effectively. In this article, we will discuss how to delete a Postgres user (Drop User).

Deleting a user might be necessary when it is no longer required or when there are security concerns. The process involves revoking privileges from the user and removing their account from the database system.

Understanding Postgres Users

PostgreSQL, or Postgres, is an open-source relational database management system that uses SQL (Structured Query Language) commands to manage databases. In Postgres, users are entities that can connect to databases and execute specified actions and commands. Understanding the different types of users in Postgres is essential for managing your database effectively.

What are Postgres Users?

Users in Postgres serve as a mechanism for controlling access to the database. Every time a user connects to the database, they must provide their username and password as authentication.

Each user has a unique set of permissions that determines what they can do within the database (e.g., create tables, modify data, etc.). By default, every new installation of PostgreSQL includes a single user called "postgres," which has full access privileges.

Different Types of Users in Postgres

There are several types of users in PostgreSQL including superusers, regular users, and roles −

  • Superusers: Superusers have all permissions within the database and can do anything that a regular user or role can do. There is always at least one superuser defined in each PostgreSQL installation.

  • Regular Users: Regular users have specific privileges granted by the superuser or other high-level role.

  • Roles: Roles are similar to groups that contain collections of permissions related to different aspects of the database.

Situations Where Deleting a User is Necessary

There might be situations when you need to delete an existing user from your PostgreSQL installation. For example −

  • The user is no longer employed by your organization

  • The user's account has been compromised

  • The username was created incorrectly

  • The user no longer requires access to specific parts of the database

In any case where you need to delete an existing user, it's essential to have a good understanding of the user types and how they are used within your installation.

Preparing to Delete a User

The Importance of Backing up Your Database

Before you start deleting any users, it's important to back up your database. This is because any changes made to your database cannot be undone, and you may inadvertently delete important data.

Backing up your database ensures that you can restore your data in case anything goes wrong during the user deletion process. One way to back up your database is to use the pg_dump command-line tool.

This tool allows you to dump the contents of your database into a file that can be used later for restoration purposes. To use pg_dump, simply type the following command −

pg_dump mydatabase > backup.sql

This will create a backup of your "mydatabase" and save it in a file called "backup.sql". You can then restore this backup by running the following command −

psql mydatabase < backup.sql

Determining Active Connections and Dependencies

Before deleting a user, it's important to check if they have any active connections or dependencies that need to be resolved first. This is because some objects in Postgres are dependent on specific users, and deleting those users without addressing those dependencies can cause problems. To check for active connections from a specific user, run the following command −

SELECT * FROM pg_stat_activity WHERE usename = 'username';

This will give you a list of all active connections associated with that particular user. Before proceeding with user deletion, make sure all of these connections are closed. To identify dependencies on a specific user account, run the following SQL statement −

SELECT * FROM information_schema.role_usage WHERE role_name = 'username';

This will display all objects that depend on the specified role. Review the list and make sure to address any dependencies before deleting the user.

Revoking Privileges

Before deleting a user, it's important to revoke their privileges. This ensures that the user cannot access or modify any data in your database after they are removed. To revoke privileges from a specific user, use the following command −


This will remove all privileges associated with the specified user on the "mydatabase" database. Make sure to replace "mydatabase" with your actual database name and "username" with the name of the user you want to delete.

Deleting a User

Now that you have prepared your database and revoked any privileges associated with the user that you want to delete, it's time to actually delete them. This can be done using SQL commands. The specific command used will depend on whether the user is a regular user or a superuser.

If the user is a regular user, you can use the following command −

DROP USER username; 

Replace "username" with the actual name of the user you want to delete. This command will immediately remove the user from the system.

However, if the user is a superuser, you must first revoke their superuser privileges before deleting them. Otherwise, Postgres will not allow you to delete them.

To do this, use the following command −


Replace "username" with the actual name of the superuser you want to revoke privileges from. Once their privileges have been revoked, you can then use the DROP USER command as outlined above.

Cleaning Up After Deleting a User

Once you have successfully deleted a user in Postgres, it's important to clean up any remaining objects associated with that user. This will help ensure that your database remains organized and efficient. Failure to do so can result in unused objects taking up valuable space, potentially leading to performance issues over time.

Why it's Important to Clean Up After Deleting a User

When you delete a user in Postgres, the objects associated with that user are not automatically deleted as well. This means that if you don't clean up these objects manually, they will continue to exist in your database taking up unnecessary space.

In addition to taking up space, these unused objects can also hinder the performance of your database over time. The more cluttered and disorganized your database becomes, the slower it may become when running queries or performing other operations.


Deleting a Postgres user is a crucial task in maintaining the security and functionality of your database. It's important to understand the different types of users in Postgres and their relationship to the database objects they own or have access to. Before making any changes, it's always recommended to back up your data and identify any active connections or dependencies that may be affected.

The process of deleting a user involves preparing for the deletion by revoking privileges and resolving dependencies before executing SQL commands to permanently delete the user. You should also take care to clean up any remaining objects associated with the deleted user.

Updated on: 07-Jun-2023


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