Snowflake TEMP TABLE: Understanding and Using Temporary Tables

Snowflake TEMP TABLE: Utilizing temporary tables for data management.
May 29, 2024

In Snowflake, temporary tables are a lightweight solution for storing non-critical data that is only needed for a single session. This guide will explain what temporary tables are, how to create them, and their use cases.

What is a Temporary Table in Snowflake?

A temporary table in Snowflake is a table that exists only for the duration of a session. It is automatically deleted when the session ends and cannot be recovered. Temporary tables are useful for storing data that is used infrequently or only once, staging data before loading it into permanent tables, and holding session-specific application data or test data.

column1 DATA_TYPE,
column2 DATA_TYPE,

This code snippet shows the syntax for creating a temporary table in Snowflake. The TEMPORARY keyword indicates that the table is temporary and will be deleted at the end of the session.

How Do You Create a Temporary Table in Snowflake?

To create a temporary table in Snowflake, you use the CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE statement, which takes the same arguments as the CREATE TABLE statement but includes the TEMPORARY keyword. Here is an example:

SELECT student_id, name, grade
FROM students
WHERE grade = 'A';

This query creates a temporary table called temp_students that contains student IDs, names, and grades for students who received an 'A' grade. This table will only be visible and valid for the duration of the session in which it is created.

What Are the Use Cases for Temporary Tables in Snowflake?

Temporary tables in Snowflake are versatile and can be used in various scenarios:

  • Reducing Processing: Temporary tables can store data that is used infrequently or only once, reducing the need for repeated processing.
  • Staging Data: They are useful for staging data extracted from external sources before loading it into permanent tables.
  • Session-Specific Data: Temporary tables can hold session-specific application data, making them ideal for temporary storage during a session.
  • Testing Queries: They are perfect for holding test or sandbox data for trying out queries or testing logic without affecting permanent tables.

How to Create and Use Temporary Tables in Snowflake

1. Creating a Temporary Table

To create a temporary table, use the following syntax:

CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE temp_table_name (
column1 DATA_TYPE,
column2 DATA_TYPE,

This statement creates a temporary table with the specified columns and data types. The table will be deleted at the end of the session.

2. Inserting Data into a Temporary Table

After creating a temporary table, you can insert data into it using the INSERT INTO statement:

INSERT INTO temp_table_name (column1, column2, ...)
VALUES (value1, value2, ...);

This code inserts data into the temporary table. The data will be available only for the duration of the session.

3. Querying Data from a Temporary Table

You can query data from a temporary table just like any other table:

SELECT * FROM temp_table_name;

This query retrieves all data from the temporary table. Remember, the data will be deleted when the session ends.

Common Challenges and Solutions

While working with temporary tables in Snowflake, you might encounter some challenges. Here are common issues and their solutions:

  • Data Loss: Temporary tables are deleted at the end of the session. Ensure you save any critical data to a permanent table before the session ends.
  • Session Management: Be mindful of session duration. If a session ends unexpectedly, any temporary tables will be lost.
  • Cloning Limitations: Temporary tables can be cloned to other temporary or transient tables but not to permanent tables. Plan your data management strategy accordingly.

Recap of Temporary Tables in Snowflake

Temporary tables in Snowflake provide a flexible and efficient way to manage session-specific data. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Session-Specific: Temporary tables exist only for the duration of a session and are deleted when the session ends.
  • Use Cases: They are ideal for reducing processing, staging data, holding session-specific data, and testing queries.
  • Creation and Usage: Use the CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE statement to create temporary tables and manage them just like permanent tables, with the understanding that they are ephemeral.

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