.alter table

The .alter table command:

  • Secures data in "preserved" columns
  • Reorders table columns
  • Sets a new column schema, docstring, and folder to an existing table, overwriting the existing column schema, docstring, and folder
  • Must run in the context of a specific database that scopes the table name
  • Requires Table Admin permission


Using the .alter command incorrectly may lead to data loss.


The .alter has a counterpart, the .alter-merge table command that has similar functionality. For more information, see .alter-merge table


.alter table TableName (columnName:columnType, ...) [with ([docstring = Documentation] [, folder = FolderName] )]

  • The table will have exactly the same columns, in the same order, as specified. Specify the table columns:
  • If existing columns aren't specified in the command, they'll be dropped and data in them will be lost, like with the .drop column command.
  • When you alter a table, altering a column type isn't supported. Use the .alter column command instead.


Use .show table [TableName] cslschema to get the existing column schema before you alter it.

How will the command affect the data?

  • Existing data isn't physically modified by the command. Data in removed columns is ignored. Data in new columns is assumed to be null.
  • Depending on how the cluster is configured, data ingestion might modify the table's column schema, even without user interaction. When you make changes to a table's column schema, ensure that ingestion won't add needed columns that the command will then remove.


Data ingestion processes into the table that modify the table's column schema, and that occur in parallel with the .alter table command, might be performed agnostic to the order of table columns. There is also a risk that data will be ingested into the wrong columns. Prevent these issues by stopping ingestion during the command, or by making sure that such ingestion operations always use a mapping object.


.alter table MyTable (ColumnX:string, ColumnY:int) 
.alter table MyTable (ColumnX:string, ColumnY:int) with (docstring = "Some documentation", folder = "Folder1")