Disable Django database writes.

pip install django-read-only==1.9.0


django-read-only pre-commit

Disable Django database writes.


Python 3.7 to 3.11 supported.

Django 3.2 to 4.1 supported.

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Install with pip:

python -m pip install django-read-only

Then add to your installed apps:



In your settings file, set DJANGO_READ_ONLY to True and all data modification queries will cause an exception:

$ DJANGO_READ_ONLY=1 python shell
>>> User.objects.create_user(username="hacker", password="hunter2")

For convenience, you can also control this with the DJANGO_READ_ONLY environment variable, which will count as True if set to anything but the empty string. The setting takes precedence over the environment variable.

During a session with DJANGO_READ_ONLY set on, you can re-enable writes by calling enable_writes():

>>> import django_read_only
>>> django_read_only.enable_writes()

Writes can be disabled with disable_writes():

>>> django_read_only.disable_writes()

To temporarily allow writes, use the temp_writes() context manager / decorator:

>>> with django_read_only.temp_writes():
...     User.objects.create_user(...)

Note that writes being enabled/disabled is global state, affecting all threads and asynchronous coroutines.

Recommended Setup

Set read-only mode on in your production environment, and maybe staging, during interactive sessions. This can be done by setting the DJANGO_READ_ONLY environment variable in the shell profile file (bashrc, zshrc, etc.) of the system’s user account. This way developers performing exploratory queries can’t accidentally make changes, but writes will remain enabled for non-shell processes like your WSGI server.

With this setup, developers can also run management commands with writes enabled by setting the environment variable before the command:

$ DJANGO_READ_ONLY= python clearsessions

Some deployment platforms don’t allow you to customize your shell profile files. In this case, you will need to find a way to detect shell mode from within your settings file.

For example, on Heroku there’s the DYNO environment variable (docs) to identify the current virtual machine. It starts with “run.” for interactive sessions. You can use this to enable read-only mode in your settings file like so:

if os.environ.get("DYNO", "").startswith("run."):
    DJANGO_READ_ONLY = bool(os.environ.get("DJANGO_READ_ONLY", "1"))

How it Works

The most accurate way to prevent writes is to connect as a separate database user with only read permission. However, this has limitations - Django doesn’t support modifying the DATABASES setting live, so sessions would not be able to temporarily allow writes.

Instead, django-read-only uses always installed database instrumentation to inspect executed queries and only allow those which look like reads. It uses a “fail closed” philosophy, so anything unknown will fail, which should be fairly reasonable.

Because django-read-only uses Django database instrumentation, it cannot block queries running through the underlying database connection (accesses through django.db.connection.connection), and it cannot filter operations within stored procedures (which use connection.callproc()). These are very rare in practice though, so django-read-only’s method works well for most projects.