What Is OID Data Type in PostgreSQL?


Larry Thompson

The OID data type in PostgreSQL stands for Object Identifier. It is a unique identifier assigned to each object in the database system. OIDs are used internally by PostgreSQL to identify rows, tables, indexes, and other objects within the system.

What is an OID?
An OID is a 32-bit unsigned integer that uniquely identifies an object within a PostgreSQL database. OIDs are automatically assigned to every row of a table unless the table is explicitly created without OIDs. OIDs can be useful for system administrators and advanced users who need to reference specific objects directly.

OID Usage
OIDs have several use cases within PostgreSQL:

1. System Tables: System tables such as pg_class and pg_attribute store metadata about the database objects. These tables use OIDs to reference other objects in the system.

2. Indexes: When creating indexes on tables, PostgreSQL uses OIDs to track and retrieve indexed data efficiently.

3. Data Types: Some built-in data types in PostgreSQL, such as geometric types, use OIDs internally for efficient storage and retrieval.

4. Foreign Keys: When defining foreign key constraints between tables, PostgreSQL uses OIDs to establish relationships between related objects.

OIDs and Performance
While OIDs can be useful for referencing specific objects directly, they can also impact performance if used incorrectly. Therefore, it’s important to consider the following points:

1. Table Size: Enabling OIDs on large tables can significantly increase their size since each row requires an additional 4 bytes for the OID value. Data Retrieval: Accessing data by OID requires an additional step compared to traditional primary key lookups, which can impact query performance. Maintenance Overhead: If a table with OIDs is frequently updated or has many deleted rows, it can lead to increased maintenance overhead due to OID management.

Enabling and Disabling OIDs

By default, PostgreSQL creates tables with OIDs enabled. However, you can explicitly create a table without OIDs by specifying the WITHOUT OIDS option in the CREATE TABLE statement.

For example:

CREATE TABLE my_table (column1 INTEGER, column2 TEXT) WITHOUT OIDS;

To enable or disable OIDs on an existing table, you can use the ALTER TABLE statement.

To enable OIDs:


To disable OIDs:


It’s important to note that starting from PostgreSQL 12, the use of OIDs is discouraged. In fact, the default behavior for user-defined tables created with CREATE TABLE is to have OIDs disabled.


OIDs in PostgreSQL provide a unique identifier for objects within the database system. While they can be useful for referencing specific objects directly, it’s essential to consider their impact on performance and maintenance overhead. Enabling or disabling OIDs can be done using the appropriate SQL statements.

By understanding the OID data type in PostgreSQL, you can make informed decisions about when and how to utilize them effectively within your database applications.

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