Accessing your PostgreSQL database from outside PythonAnywhere

Warning -- this will only work in paid accounts

PostgreSQL databases on PythonAnywhere are protected by a firewall, so external computers can't access them.

However, if you have a paid account, you can access your database from outside using a technique called an SSH tunnel, which essentially makes a secure SSH connection to our systems, then sends the Postgres stuff over it.

  • If you're using our global, US-hosted site at www.pythonanywhere.com, then the SSH server's hostname is ssh.pythonanywhere.com
  • If you're using our EU-hosted site at eu.pythonanywhere.com, then the SSH server's hostname is ssh.eu.pythonanywhere.com

There are a number of ways to do this:

pgAdmin

If you're running pgadmin, you can use SSH in a local terminal to create an SSH tunnel from your machine to PythonAnywhere and then connect to the local port using pgAdmin.

First, we create the SSH tunnel:

ssh -4 -L 9999:postgres-server-hostname:postgres-server-port username@ssh.pythonanywhere.com

where you should:

replace with
postgres-server-hostname your PythonAnywhere database hostname, eg. yourusername-1234.postgres.pythonanywhere-services.com
postgres-server-port the port from the Postgres tab of the "Databases" page inside PythonAnywhere
username your PythonAnywhere username

When this has worked, it will appear that you have SSHed into your PythonAnywhere account. As long as that SSH session is active, your SSH tunnel will be in-place. The local side of your SSH tunnel will be at port 9999.

If that doesn't work because you get an error like:

cannot listen to port: 9999

You can try any other port number greater than 1024 and less than 65536. Be sure to use the correct port in the next step.

Now open the "Server" dialog in pgAdmin, and give the connection a name on the "General" tab, then set up the stuff on the "Connection" tab:

Setting Value
Host name/address: localhost
Port: 9999
Username: any user you have set up on your Postgres server, eg. super
Password: the password corresponding to that user

Then you should be able to connect from pgAdmin to your PythonAnywhere Postgres database.

TablePlus

If you're using TablePlus, you can use the settings from this diagram provided by devwon (Hyerin Won):

TablePlus Postgres connection setup

From Python code

If you're running Python code on your local machine, and you want it to access your Postgres database, you can install the sshtunnel package and then use code like this:

import psycopg2
import sshtunnel

sshtunnel.SSH_TIMEOUT = 5.0
sshtunnel.TUNNEL_TIMEOUT = 5.0

with sshtunnel.SSHTunnelForwarder(
    ('ssh.pythonanywhere.com'),
    ssh_username='your PythonAnywhere username', ssh_password='the password you use to log in to the PythonAnywhere website',
    remote_bind_address=('your PythonAnywhere database hostname, eg. yourusername-1234.postgres.pythonanywhere-services.com', the port on the databases page)
) as tunnel:
    connection = psycopg2.connect(
        user='a postgres user', password='password for the postgres user',
        host='127.0.0.1', port=tunnel.local_bind_port,
        database='your database name',
    )
    # Do stuff
    connection.close()

This example uses the psycopg2 library, but you can use any Postgres library you like.

If you have trouble with the SSH Tunnel connection, the project provides a helpful troubleshooting guide

Manual SSH tunnelling

For other tools that you want to run on your own machine, you can set up a tunnel that pretends to be a Postgres server running on your machine but actually sends data over SSH to your PythonAnywhere Postgres instance. If you're using a Mac or Linux, you probably already have the right tool installed -- the ssh command. If you're using Windows, see the "Using PuTTY on Windows" section below.

Using SSH (Linux/Mac)

As long as you're not running a Postgres instance locally, just invoke SSH locally (that is, on your own machine -- not on PythonAnywhere) like this, replacing username with your PythonAnywhere username, 10123 with the port number on the "Postgres" tab of the "Databases" page, and changing the hostname from yourusername-1234.postgres.pythonanywhere-services.com to the one on the "Databases" page likewise:

ssh -L 5432:yourusername-1234.postgres.pythonanywhere-services.com:10123 username@ssh.pythonanywhere.com

That -L option means "forward LOCAL port 5432 to REMOTE host yourusername-1234.postgres.pythonanywhere-services.com port 10123".

If you are running a Postgres instance locally, then it will probably already be using local port 5432, which means that the ssh command won't be able to. You can modify your SSH invocation to use any other port -- this one would use the local post 3333.

ssh -L 3333:yourusername-1234.postgres.pythonanywhere-services.com:10123 username@ssh.pythonanywhere.com

REMEMBER You need to keep your this ssh process open at all times while you're accessing your PythonAnywhere Postgres server from your local machine! As soon as that closes, your forwarded connection is also lost.

After all of that, you'll have a server running on your computer (hostname 127.0.0.1, port 5432 -- or 3333 or something else if you have Postgres running locally), which will forward everything on to the Postgres server on PythonAnywhere.

Now skip down to the "Using the tunnel" section below.

Using PuTTY on Windows

The ssh command is not normally installed on Windows, but you can use a tool called PuTTY instead:

Download and install PuTTY from here. Once you've done that:

  • Start PuTTY and enter ssh.pythonanywhere.com into the "Host name" field
  • In the "Category" tree on the left, open Connection -> SSH -> Tunnels
  • If you don't have a Postgres database running on your local machine, enter "Source port" 5432. If you do have one running, use some other port, for example 3333.
  • Set "Destination" to the hostname from the databases page:`your-postgres-port,
  • Click the "Open" button, and enter the username and password you would use to log in to the PythonAnywhere website.
  • Once it's connected, leave PuTTY running -- it will manage the SSH tunnel.

After all of that, you'll have a server running on your computer (hostname 127.0.0.1, port 5432 -- or 3333 or something else if you have Postgres running locally), which will forward everything on to the Postgres server on PythonAnywhere.

Using the tunnel

At this point, you should be able to run code that connects to Postgres using this local server. For example, you could use the code that is inside the with statement in the "From Python code" section above, replacing tunnel.local_bind_port with the port you specified in either SSH or PuTTY -- 5432, or 3333 or something else if you have Postgres running locally.