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Disable Django database writes.

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Disable Django database writes.


Python 3.8 to 3.12 supported.

Django 3.2 to 4.2 supported.

Want to work smarter and faster? Check out my book Boost Your Django DX which covers django-read-only, IPython, and many other tools.


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.

IPython Extension

django-read-only also works as an IPython extension for quick access to enable/disable read-only mode. Load it with:

In [1]: %load_ext django_read_only

You can have the extension always load by setting it up to your IPython configuration file:


When loaded, use the %read_only line magic to disable or enable read-only mode:

In [2]: %read_only off
Write queries enabled.

In [3]: %read_only on
Write queries disabled.

This reduces the amount of typing needed to disable read-only mode.

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.

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