10 Differences Between delete drop and truncate

Delete, Drop, and Truncate in SQL

Introduction: SQL (Structured Query Language) is a powerful tool that enables users to interact with relational databases. Among the various SQL statements, DELETE, DROP, and TRUNCATE are commonly used to manipulate data within tables. While they may seem similar, there are distinct differences between these commands. In this article, we will explore the definitions, examples, and use cases of each command and summarize the differences in a table. Let’s dive in!

What is DELETE?

The DELETE statement in SQL is used to remove one or more rows from a table based on specified conditions. It allows you to selectively delete data that matches specific criteria, such as a certain value in a column or a combination of conditions. By removing unwanted rows, you can effectively modify the data stored in a table.

Examples of DELETE:

Consider a table named “Employees” with columns “Employee_ID”, “First_Name”, and “Last_Name”. To delete a single employee with the ID of 101, the following SQL statement can be used:

DELETE FROM Employees WHERE Employee_ID = 101;

This statement removes the row where the Employee_ID is 101.

If you want to remove all employees with the last name “Smith,” you can execute the following query:

DELETE FROM Employees WHERE Last_Name = 'Smith';

This will delete all the rows with the last name “Smith.”

Uses of DELETE:

– Deleting outdated or unnecessary data from a table
– Clearing data for a particular condition or criteria
– Removing accidental or incorrect data entries
– Maintaining data integrity within a table
– Preparing data for subsequent database operations

What is DROP?

The DROP statement in SQL is used to remove an entire table or a database from the database schema. It removes all the data and associated objects, including indexes, constraints, and triggers, from the database. The DROP command is a powerful operation, so it is advised to use it with caution as it permanently deletes the table and its data.

Examples of DROP:

To drop a table named “Customers,” the following SQL statement can be used:

DROP TABLE Customers;

This command removes the table “Customers” and all its associated data and objects.

If you want to drop an entire database named “Sales,” the following SQL statement can be used:


This statement deletes the database “Sales” and all the tables, data, and objects within it.

Uses of DROP:

– Removing unnecessary tables or databases
– Clearing data for a complete restructuring
– Reclaiming disk space occupied by unwanted tables
– Discarding experimental or temporary data
– Dropping databases during software development or testing


The TRUNCATE statement in SQL is used to remove all data from a table quickly. Unlike the DELETE statement, which removes rows one by one, TRUNCATE removes all rows at once. However, TRUNCATE still keeps the structure, indexes, and other properties intact, making it faster and more efficient than DELETE.

Examples of TRUNCATE:

To truncate a table named “Orders,” the following SQL statement can be used:


This command removes all the rows in the “Orders” table, but the table structure remains the same.


– Removing all data from a table before importing new data
– Quickly resetting a table without deleting its structure
– Purging temporary data within a table
– Emptying tables used for logging or audit trails
– Optimizing table performance by removing all rows

Differences Between DELETE, DROP, and TRUNCATE:

Operation Deletes rows based on conditions Removes all rows at once
Structure Does not affect the table structure Does not affect the table structure
Speed Relatively slower for large tables Fastest operation
Rollback Possible to rollback Cannot be rolled back
Resource Usage Uses more resources Uses fewer resources
Logging Generates transaction logs Does not generate transaction logs
Permission Requires DELETE privilege Requires DROP privilege
Referential Integrity Triggers referential integrity constraints Does not trigger referential integrity constraints
Data Recovery Deleted data can be recovered using backups Deleted data cannot be easily recovered
Usage Used for selectively removing rows Used for removing all rows quickly


In conclusion, DELETE, DROP, and TRUNCATE are SQL commands used for different purposes. DELETE removes specified rows, DROP deletes entire tables or databases, while TRUNCATE quickly removes all data from a table. Their differences lie in the operations performed, speed, structure modifications, resource usage, permissions required, and data recovery possibilities. By understanding these differences, you can confidently use the most appropriate command for your specific needs.

People Also Ask:

Q1: Can DELETE and DROP be undone?
A1: DELETE can be undone by restoring the data from backups, but DROP is irreversible as it removes the entire table or database.

Q2: Which command is faster, DELETE or TRUNCATE?
A2: TRUNCATE is faster than DELETE as it removes all rows at once, while DELETE removes rows one by one.

Q3: Are there any precautions to consider before using DROP?
A3: Yes, before using DROP, ensure that you have the necessary permissions, double-check the objects to be dropped, and backup any critical data.

Q4: Can TRUNCATE be used on a single row?
A4: No, TRUNCATE removes all data in a table and cannot be used to delete a single row.

Q5: Do DELETE and TRUNCATE reset auto-increment values?
A6: DELETE does not affect auto-increment values, while TRUNCATE resets auto-increment values to their initial state.

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