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What is an external stage in Snowflake, and how is it different from an internal stage?

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What is an external stage in Snowflake, and how is it different from an internal stage?

Daniel Steinhold Answered question August 9, 2023
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In Snowflake, an external stage is a named, cloud-based storage location that provides a way to load data from or unload data to cloud storage services like Amazon S3, Azure Blob Storage, or Google Cloud Storage. Unlike internal stages, which are managed by Snowflake within your Snowflake account, external stages reference data in external cloud storage, allowing you to seamlessly integrate Snowflake with other data sources and tools.

Key differences between external stages and internal stages:

**External Stage:**

1. **Cloud-Based Storage:** External stages reference data stored in cloud storage services (such as S3, Azure Blob Storage, or Google Cloud Storage).
2. **Credentials:** External stages require credentials to access the data in the cloud storage location. These credentials are provided when creating the stage.
3. **Data Movement:** External stages facilitate efficient data movement between Snowflake and cloud storage, supporting large-scale data loading and unloading.
4. **Data Ingestion and Export:** External stages are used for ingesting data into Snowflake (via **`COPY INTO`** with an external stage) and exporting data from Snowflake to external storage (via **`COPY INTO`** or **`EXPORT`** with an external stage).
5. **Flexibility:** External stages provide flexibility in managing and accessing data across different cloud platforms.
6. **Data Sharing:** External stages can be used to share data across different Snowflake accounts, regions, or organizations.

**Internal Stage:**

1. **Snowflake-Managed Storage:** Internal stages are managed by Snowflake within your Snowflake account. They provide temporary or intermediate data storage during data loading and unloading.
2. **No Credentials:** Internal stages do not require separate credentials since they are managed by Snowflake.
3. **Temporary Storage:** Internal stages are suitable for temporary storage needs during data loading and unloading operations within Snowflake.
4. **Data Movement:** Internal stages are used for data loading and unloading operations entirely within Snowflake.
5. **Limited to Snowflake:** Internal stages are limited to Snowflake and do not reference data in external cloud storage.

When to Use Each:

- Use **External Stages** when you need to load or unload data between Snowflake and external cloud storage, share data with external systems, or manage data across different cloud platforms.
- Use **Internal Stages** when you need temporary storage for data movement exclusively within Snowflake, such as during data loading and unloading processes.

Choosing between internal and external stages depends on your data integration requirements, data sharing needs, and the sources or destinations of your data.

Daniel Steinhold Answered question August 9, 2023

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