From time to time, you may need to figure out which file in a PostgreSQL data directory corresponds to a particular table or index in the database. For example, pg_hexedit users sometimes need this information, since pg_hexedit is a frontend utility that works by reading relation files from the filesystem. In practice, a pg_hexedit convenience script can usually be used instead. Users need only give the name of the table or index that is to be examined. The convenience scripts call the built-in function pg_relation_filepath() via an SQL query.
This approach won't always work, though. pg_hexedit is a tool for investigating corruption, and sometimes corruption can affect system catalogs in a way that makes it impossible to even establish a connection to the database. You may find that you're greeted with an arcane error any time you attempt to connect to the database. The error may look something like this:
ERROR: catalog is missing 3 attribute(s) for relid 827