Heroku Postgres is an easy, low-cost way to get started with a relational database on the Heroku platform. This open-source database is also the most effective service for developers looking to build engaging apps. Read on to discover how Heroku Postgres can prove beneficial to developers around the world. 

Table of Contents 

How Does Heroku Store Data? 

Heroku is a cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service, also known as a PaaS. The service takes care of all the setup work required to create an application. Applications created on Heroku run inside containers. In the Heroku system, these containers are known as "dynos". The individual running the Heroku account can handle all aspects of the dyno, including resource allocation and special permissions. 

Every dyno can support eight different programming languages within the Heroku system. These languages include:

  1. Ruby 
  2. Node.js
  3. PHP
  4. GO
  5. Clojure 
  6. Java 
  7. Python 
  8. Scala  

The applications created on Heroku require a database. The default database option within Heroku is Heroku Postgres. Heroku Postgres is a relational database based on PostgreSQL.

Using the Heroku Postgres Database 

So the Heroku Postgres database is an open-source SQL database running on PostgreSQL, but how is it used? Well, there are some powerful features that can be used through this system. Some of the most powerful tools in relation to the Heroku Postgres database are Forks, Followers, and Dataclips.


Heroku Postgres allows for the forking of a database, just like forking source code. This means that the database can be cloned with a single command. This tool also allows for the testing of new schema migrations by forking a production database and running new migrations against the fork. 


Followers on Heroku Postgres are read-only replicas of databases that stay up-to-date with changes and can be queried. Without this Heroku Postgres tool, setting up and maintaining replication can be a very difficult and specialized task. However, through the followers tool, this task is made simple through horizontal scalability that distributes database read traffic. 


Dataclips are another powerful tool on Heroku Postgres. They allow anyone who is familiar with SQL to easily create reports against live production data. The results can then be securely shared with anyone through a unique URL. This tool takes the complexity of dashboards and analytics tools out of the important data-sharing process. 

Related Reading: The Complete Guide to Using Heroku Postgres

How to Deploy a PostgreSQL Database on Heroku 

As discussed, Heroku Postgres is a managed SQL database service provided directly by Heroku. The Heroku Postgres database can be accessed from any language with a PostgreSQL driver. This includes all languages officially supported by Heroku. 

A handy feature of the Heroku Postgres database is that it allows for easy experimentation or prototyping. Heroku even offers a free plan for hosting PostgreSQL databases. Read on to learn how to set-up up a free PostgreSQL database on Heroku in four steps.

1. Log into Heroku 

The first step to creating a free PostgreSQL database is to log in to Heroku. To create a new database on Heroku, an app must first be created within the personal dashboard. 

2. Create a new Heroku app 

Once logged in to Heroku, navigate to the personal app dashboard to create a new Heroku app. Simply click the Create new app button, which should be located on the top-right corner of the dashboard. 

3. Add a PostgreSQL database 

After creating the new app, it's time to attach a PostgreSQL database to it. Simply navigate to the Resources tab located in the header of the app's dashboard. Type in Heroku Postgres into the Add-on search field. When prompted, select the Heroku Postgres add-on from the drop-down. A pop-up will then ask to choose a pricing plan for the database. In this case, choose the Hobby Dev-Free plan and click Provision. A free PostgreSQL database has now been successfully created. 

4. Access the database credentials 

Once the free PostgreSQL database has been successfully created, it's time to access the database credentials. By navigating to the Resources tab in the app's dashboard, the credentials and the connection URL for the PostgreSQL database can be found. These credentials can be used to connect the PostgreSQL database from any PostgreSQL client. 

Along with providing access to a free PostgreSQL database, Heroku Postgres performs regular security audits and conforms to a wide variety of security standards. With its wide variety of security features, data within the Heroku Postgres system is always protected. 

Related Reading: Introduction to Heroku Connect

Where to Use PostgreSQL

A PostgreSQL can provide a great deal of value to developers with its powerful query, operational speed, and overall stability. Three of the most useful databases to use PostgreSQL are an operational database, a data warehouse, and a reporting database.  

Operational Database 

PostgreSQL is perfect for use in an operational database as it provides unbeatable reliability. It is also responsive, scalable, and stable, allowing for effortless dev, staging, and backup. 

Data Warehouse 

PostgreSQL is the standard for most ETL systems. Therefore, it is also very popular for data warehousing. Its scalability and query power make it ideal for terabytes of data. 

Reporting Database

The query flexibility of PostgreSQL makes it suitable to dive deep into your data. The ability to query multiple PostgreSQL instances in a single query also allows for data to be brought together across multiple organizations. This makes PostgreSQL extremely useful as a reporting database. 

How Does Integrate.io Work With Heroku Postgres?


Heroku Postgres offers a number of different plans, each of which provides the highest security standards. Ultimately, Heroku Postgres is a great option for any developer looking to build, scale, or maintain their databases without having to take infrastructure into consideration. From database newbie to experienced administrator, Heroku Postgres is a great option for maintaining databases. 

Integrate.io and Heroku Postgres can also work cohesively. Integrate.io offers automatic integrations for Heroku Postgres, and it's super easy to get started with through the low-code ETL platform Integrate.io provides. The ETL tools on Integrate.io will help easily and efficiently pull data from and send data to Heroku Postgres. 

Coupled with Integrate.io, Heroku can run as both a source and a destination. Some of the Integrate.io and Heroku functions are explained below. 

  • As a source: Integrate.io can extract data from Heroku, perform data transformation, and then load the data to a specified destination. 
  • As a destination: If a package with source and transformations has already been created, Integrate.io can also transfer this data to Heroku. Integrate.io will also be able to update the Heroku Postgres tables during this process.

Using the two platforms together will ensure that data analytics and reporting run smoothly.

Related Reading: 5 Reasons to Use Heroku and ETL

How Integrate.io Can Help 

Ultimately, the Integrate.io and Heroku platforms work well together. Ready to discover how Heroku and Integrate.io can help your business better build, deploy, and scale web applications? Contact our team today to schedule a 14-day demo or pilot. We look forward to working with you and helping you reach your goals.