Oracle Sql Update From Select

admin3 April 2024Last Update :

Mastering the Art of SQL: Updating Data with Precision

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is the bedrock of database management, enabling professionals to manipulate and query data with finesse. Among its many capabilities, the UPDATE statement stands out as a powerful tool for modifying existing records. When combined with a SELECT statement, it unlocks the potential for sophisticated data updates based on specific criteria. This article delves into the nuances of using the UPDATE FROM SELECT pattern in Oracle SQL, providing insights and practical examples to enhance your database operations.

Understanding the UPDATE FROM SELECT Pattern

The UPDATE FROM SELECT pattern is a technique used to update rows in a table based on values obtained from another table or a subquery. This approach is particularly useful when you need to synchronize data across tables or apply complex criteria to determine the new values for the update operation.


  • To synchronize data between tables.
  • When updates depend on calculations or aggregations.
  • For updating based on conditional logic involving multiple tables.
  • When performing bulk updates that require a join or subquery.


Oracle SQL does not directly support the UPDATE FROM SELECT syntax as some other SQL dialects do. However, you can achieve the same result using a correlated subquery or a MERGE statement. Let’s explore both methods.

Using a Correlated Subquery

A correlated subquery is a subquery that references columns from the outer query. It is executed once for each row processed by the outer query. Here’s the general syntax for using a correlated subquery to perform an update:

UPDATE target_table t
SET t.column = (SELECT expression
                FROM source_table s
                WHERE s.condition = t.condition)
              FROM source_table s
              WHERE s.condition = t.condition);

Using the MERGE Statement

The MERGE statement, also known as UPSERT, combines the operations of INSERT and UPDATE. It is particularly useful when you want to update existing rows, insert new rows, or do both based on the source data. Here’s how you can use the MERGE statement to perform an update from a select:

MERGE INTO target_table t
USING (SELECT column1, column2, ...
       FROM source_table
       WHERE condition) s
ON (t.join_condition = s.join_condition)
    UPDATE SET t.column = s.column;

Practical Examples of UPDATE FROM SELECT in Action

To illustrate the power of the UPDATE FROM SELECT pattern, let’s walk through some practical examples that showcase its versatility and effectiveness in real-world scenarios.

Example 1: Updating Prices Based on a Discount Table

Imagine you have a products table and a discounts table. You want to update the prices of products based on the discount percentage specified in the discounts table. Here’s how you can achieve this using a correlated subquery:

UPDATE products p
SET p.price = p.price - (p.price * (SELECT
                                    FROM discounts d
                                    WHERE d.product_id =
              FROM discounts d
              WHERE d.product_id =;

Example 2: Synchronizing Customer Data

Suppose you have two tables, customers and customer_updates, where customer_updates contains the latest information that needs to be synchronized with the customers table. Using the MERGE statement, you can update the customers’ information as follows:

MERGE INTO customers c
USING customer_updates cu
ON ( =

Advanced Techniques and Considerations

While the UPDATE FROM SELECT pattern is straightforward in principle, there are advanced techniques and considerations that can enhance its effectiveness and ensure optimal performance.

Handling NULL Values

When dealing with NULL values, it’s important to use the NVL or COALESCE functions to provide default values and avoid unintended consequences during the update.

Performance Optimization

For large datasets, performance can be a concern. Indexes, partitioning, and proper filtering criteria can help optimize the update operation and reduce execution time.

Transactional Integrity

Always consider the transactional integrity of your update operations. Use transactions to ensure that your updates are atomic and can be rolled back in case of errors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I update multiple columns using the UPDATE FROM SELECT pattern?

Yes, you can update multiple columns by setting multiple column-value pairs in the SET clause of the UPDATE statement or the UPDATE part of the MERGE statement.

How can I avoid locking issues during a large update?

To minimize locking issues, consider breaking the update into smaller batches, using appropriate isolation levels, or scheduling updates during off-peak hours.

Is it possible to perform an UPDATE FROM SELECT across different databases?

Yes, it is possible if you create a database link between the databases. You can then reference the remote table in your SELECT statement using the database link.


The UPDATE FROM SELECT pattern in Oracle SQL is a potent combination that allows for complex data manipulations with precision and efficiency. By understanding the intricacies of correlated subqueries and the MERGE statement, you can harness the full potential of this technique to keep your data consistent and up-to-date. Whether you’re synchronizing tables or applying conditional updates, mastering this pattern will undoubtedly elevate your SQL prowess.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments Rules :

Breaking News