What are the differences between transient and temporary tables in Snowflake?

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What are the differences between transient and temporary tables in Snowflake, and when would you use each?

Daniel Steinhold Answered question August 4, 2023
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Transient and temporary tables in Snowflake are both designed for temporary storage, but they have different purposes, lifespans, and usage scenarios. Here are the key differences between transient and temporary tables and when to use each:

**Transient Tables:**

1. **Purpose:** Transient tables are used to store temporary data that doesn't need to be retained beyond the current session. They are primarily used for intermediate storage during complex data processing tasks.
2. **Lifespan:** Transient tables exist for the duration of a specific session in Snowflake. Once the session ends or is terminated, the transient table and its data are automatically dropped.
3. **Usage Scenario:** Transient tables are suitable for tasks like intermediate result storage during data transformation, data aggregation, or complex query processing. They help reduce the overall storage costs as they are automatically deleted at the end of the session.
4. **Concurrency Impact:** Transient tables can be affected by resource contention in a multi-user environment, as they are associated with the specific session. Other users may not be able to access the same transient table during that session.
5. **Example:**

```sql
sqlCopy code
-- Create a transient table for intermediate data processing.
CREATE TRANSIENT TABLE intermediate_table AS
SELECT ...
FROM ...
WHERE ...;

```

**Temporary Tables:**

1. **Purpose:** Temporary tables are used to store temporary data that needs to be retained within the same session or transaction for complex data processing tasks or to facilitate iterative computations.
2. **Lifespan:** Temporary tables persist within the session or transaction in which they were created. They are automatically dropped at the end of the session or transaction, depending on the **`ON COMMIT`** option used during table creation.
3. **Usage Scenario:** Temporary tables are suitable for tasks that require iterative processing or for breaking down complex tasks into smaller, manageable steps within the same session. They are also used for temporary data storage during long-running transactions.
4. **Concurrency Impact:** Temporary tables are session-specific and don't interfere with other users' access to data. However, they might impact the session's resource usage, especially when handling large datasets.
5. **Example:**

```sql
sqlCopy code
-- Create a temporary table for iterative data processing.
CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE temp_table (col1 INT, col2 VARCHAR)
ON COMMIT PRESERVE ROWS;

```

**When to Use Each:**

Use **Transient Tables** when:

- You need temporary storage for intermediate results during complex data processing within the same session.
- You want to reduce storage costs by automatically dropping the table at the end of the session.
- You don't need to retain the data beyond the current session.

Use **Temporary Tables** when:

- You need temporary storage for iterative computations within the same session or transaction.
- You want to retain the data within the session until the end of the transaction or session.
- You need session-specific data that doesn't affect other users' sessions.

In summary, both transient and temporary tables serve similar purposes for temporary data storage, but their lifespan and usage scenarios differ. Choose the appropriate type based on whether you need the data to persist within the session (temporary tables) or just for the duration of the session (transient tables).

Daniel Steinhold Answered question August 4, 2023

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