10 Differences Between drop and delete

Difference between Drop and Delete

Introduction: When it comes to managing data in databases, it’s important to understand the distinction between actions like drop and delete. While both involve removing elements from a database, they have different applications and implications. In this article, we will explore the differences between drop and delete, along with their various use cases and examples.

What is/are drop?

Drop is a database operation that is used to remove an entire database object, such as a table or a database itself. It is a more irreversible action compared to delete, as it involves permanently discarding the object and its associated data from the database.

Examples of drop:

Here are a few examples of drop operations:

  • Dropping a table: DROP TABLE table_name;
  • Dropping a database: DROP DATABASE database_name;

Uses of drop:

The drop operation is typically used when you want to completely eliminate an object from the database. It is commonly employed when you no longer need the object and all its associated data, or when you want to rebuild an object from scratch. Be cautious when using this operation as it permanently removes data.

What is/are delete?

Delete, on the other hand, is a database operation that removes specific rows or records from a table. Unlike drop, delete does not remove the entire object from the database, but rather eliminates selected rows based on certain conditions.

Examples of delete:

Here are a few examples of delete operations:

  • Delete specific records: DELETE FROM table_name WHERE condition;
  • Delete all records from a table: DELETE FROM table_name;

Uses of delete:

The delete operation is used when you want to selectively remove specific data from a table, rather than discard the entire object. It is commonly utilized to delete obsolete or unwanted records, or to clean up data in order to maintain data integrity and avoid clutter.

Differences Table:

Let us now proceed to compare drop and delete operations by highlighting their main differences in various aspects.

Difference Area Drop Delete
Data Removal Drops entire database objects. Deletes specific rows from a table.
Data Loss Permanently removes object and associated data. Removes selected rows but retains the table and other data.
Rollback Generally cannot be rolled back or undone. Can be rolled back if performed within a transaction.
Performance Quicker operation as it removes entire objects at once. Can be slower when deleting large amounts of data due to row-by-row processing.
Usage Mainly used for eliminating entire objects or databases. Used for selective removal of specific data within a table.
Associated Syntax Begins with “DROP” keyword followed by object type. Begins with “DELETE” keyword followed by table name or conditions.
Data Manipulation Language (DML) Not a DML command. Considered a DML command.
Database Impact More impactful as it removes complete objects and their associated dependencies. Less impactful as it primarily deals with rows within a table.
Recovery May require restoring from backups or rebuilding objects. Can potentially recover data through proper backups or transaction logs.
Data Integrity Restrictions Not subject to integrity checks, constraints, or triggers during drop operation. Data deletion needs to adhere to integrity checks, constraints, or triggers.


In summary, drop and delete are both important operations in database management but serve different purposes. Drop is used to completely remove objects, while delete selectively removes rows from a table. Drop is more permanent and irreversible, while delete allows for data recovery in certain cases. Understanding these differences is crucial to ensure the proper utilization of these functionalities.

People Also Ask:

Here are some common questions that readers might have about the drop and delete operations:

Q: Can delete be rolled back?

A: Yes, delete can be rolled back if performed within the scope of a transaction. However, once the transaction is committed, the changes become permanent and cannot be undone.

Q: Does drop operation delete data permanently?

A: Yes, the drop operation permanently removes the database objects and associated data, making it more irreversible compared to delete.

Q: Can deleted data be recovered?

A: Depending on your database configuration, if you have proper backups or transaction logs, it may be possible to recover deleted data. However, it is not guaranteed in all scenarios, so regular backups are essential.

Q: Are there any alternatives to drop and delete?

A: Yes, depending on the specific database management system, there may be alternative operations like truncate (which removes all rows from a table but retains the structure) or archive (which moves data to archive tables rather than permanently deleting it).

Q: Is delete slower than drop?

A: In general, delete can be slower than drop when deleting large amounts of data since it involves row-by-row processing. Drop is typically faster as it removes entire objects at once.

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