What is data retention in Snowflake, and how is it managed for tables?

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What is data retention in Snowflake, and how is it managed for tables?

Daniel Steinhold Answered question August 6, 2023
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In Snowflake, data retention refers to the duration for which historical data is kept within the database. It involves determining how long data will be retained in tables before it is automatically purged or deleted. Data retention is an important aspect of data lifecycle management, especially for compliance, regulatory, and storage optimization purposes.

In Snowflake, data retention is managed through a combination of two key concepts: Time Travel and Data Retention Policies.

1. **Time Travel:**
Snowflake's Time Travel feature allows you to query historical data at different points in time. It uses the internally maintained historical data to provide a way to access data as it existed in the past. Snowflake automatically retains data for a certain period (typically 1 day), and you can query this historical data using specific timestamps or time intervals. Time Travel data is stored within the same table but is logically separated to maintain data consistency.
2. **Data Retention Policies:**
Data Retention Policies in Snowflake define how long data is retained within the system before it's automatically purged. These policies can be applied to individual tables or entire databases. When a data retention period is defined, Snowflake will automatically delete data that exceeds that period, helping to manage storage costs and compliance requirements.

For example, you can set a data retention policy on a table to retain data for a specific number of days or indefinitely. Here's an example of how you might set a data retention policy on a table:

```sql
sqlCopy code
ALTER TABLE MyTable
SET DATA RETENTION = 365; -- Retain data for 1 year

```

In this example, the data retention for **`MyTable`** is set to 365 days. This means that data older than 365 days will be automatically deleted by Snowflake.

It's important to note that Time Travel and Data Retention Policies are separate concepts. Time Travel allows you to query historical data within a predefined window, while Data Retention Policies determine how long data is physically retained before it's purged.

Managing data retention is crucial for optimizing storage costs and ensuring compliance with data retention regulations. By combining Time Travel and Data Retention Policies, Snowflake provides a robust framework for managing historical data within your tables.

Daniel Steinhold Answered question August 6, 2023

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