Cause and resolution of "unsupported version" errors when restoring a Postgres database

Issue

Occasionally Postgres changes require changes to the file format used by pg_dump and pg_restore utilities. When this happens, a backup created by an older version of pg_dump will throw an error if you try to restore with an older version of pg_restore.

Example of potential error:

pg_restore: [archiver] unsupported version (1.14) in file header

Resolution

How do I resolve this issue when attempting a restore with pg_restore?

This error is caused by a version mismatch between the version of pg_dump used to create the backup file and the version of pg_restore used to attempt the restore. Because of this you will need to download and use the version of pg_restore that matches the version of pg_dump used to create the backup file.

If you don't know which version of pg_dump was used, you will likely need to refer to the Postgres archive format source code to determine what version your archive format was introduced in.

How do I resolve this issue when attempting a restore with PGBackups?

PGBackups uses the version of pg_dump and pg_restore that match the database you are performing the action (restore or dump) against. If you receive this error while attempting to restore a backup using PGBackups, it may be because you are attempting to restore to a version of Postgres older than the version of Postgres which the backup was taken from. When this happens you will need to upgrade your target database or attempt the restore from your personal machine, using the version of pg_restore that matches the version of your source database.

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