> With regards to other jobs on the server, there is a MySQL server on it 
> as well, which from time to time has some multi-second queries generated 
> from a webserver also on this host, but the MySQL is running with nice 
> 10 (PostgreSQL isn't nice'd).

Do those MySQL queries hit disk hard?

I've never seen PostgreSQL have hicups like you describe when running on
a machine by itself.  I have experienced similar issues when another
process (cron job in my case) caused brief swapping to occur.

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