Sql Temp Table Select Into

admin3 April 2024Last Update :

Unveiling the Power of SQL Temp Tables and SELECT INTO

SQL, the standard language for managing and manipulating databases, offers a plethora of features that enhance efficiency and performance. Among these features, temporary tables and the SELECT INTO statement stand out as powerful tools for developers and database administrators. This article delves into the intricacies of using temporary tables in conjunction with the SELECT INTO statement, providing insights and practical examples to harness their full potential.

Understanding Temporary Tables in SQL

Temporary tables are a type of table in SQL that are designed to store transient data. They are similar to regular tables but have a limited lifespan and are typically used within sessions or stored procedures. Temporary tables can be categorized into local and global temporary tables, each with its own scope and use case.

  • Local Temporary Tables: These tables are prefixed with a single hash symbol (#TableName) and are visible only to the connection that creates them. They are automatically dropped when the session that created them ends.
  • Global Temporary Tables: Prefixed with a double hash symbol (##TableName), global temporary tables are visible to all sessions and connections. They are dropped when the last session referencing them is closed.

Temporary tables are particularly useful for storing intermediate results during complex queries, data processing, or when performing bulk data manipulation tasks.

Demystifying the SELECT INTO Statement

The SELECT INTO statement in SQL is used to create a new table and populate it with the result set of a SELECT query. This statement is a combination of table creation and data insertion, making it a convenient way to clone tables or to create backups with a subset of data.

SELECT * INTO NewTable FROM ExistingTable WHERE condition;

The above command creates a new table called ‘NewTable’ with the same column structure as ‘ExistingTable’ and inserts into it the rows that meet the specified condition.

Combining Temp Tables with SELECT INTO

When you combine temporary tables with the SELECT INTO statement, you get a powerful mechanism for managing data within a database session. This combination allows you to create a temporary storage space for data that you can manipulate without affecting the original data set.

Creating a Temporary Table with SELECT INTO

To create a temporary table using SELECT INTO, you simply need to specify the temporary table’s name, prefixed with a hash symbol, as the target for the SELECT INTO operation.

SELECT * INTO #TempTable FROM ExistingTable WHERE condition;

This command creates a local temporary table named ‘#TempTable’ and populates it with the result set from ‘ExistingTable’ that meets the specified condition.

Advantages of Using Temp Tables with SELECT INTO

  • Performance: Temporary tables can improve query performance by reducing the complexity of operations and allowing for better execution plans.
  • Transaction Management: Using temporary tables can minimize the impact on transaction log space, as operations on temporary tables generate fewer log entries.
  • Isolation: Data in temporary tables is isolated from other users, which can be beneficial in multi-user environments.
  • Flexibility: Temporary tables offer a flexible structure that can be altered without affecting the schema of permanent tables.

Practical Examples and Case Studies

To illustrate the practical applications of temporary tables and the SELECT INTO statement, let’s explore some examples and case studies that showcase their effectiveness in real-world scenarios.

Example 1: Data Aggregation and Analysis

Imagine a scenario where a financial analyst needs to perform a complex analysis on sales data. The analyst can use a temporary table to store aggregated data from various sales tables without impacting the original datasets.

SELECT Region, SUM(Sales) AS TotalSales
INTO #RegionalSales
FROM SalesData
GROUP BY Region;

The temporary table ‘#RegionalSales’ now contains the total sales by region, which can be used for further analysis or reporting.

Example 2: Data Cleansing and Transformation

In a data migration project, it’s often necessary to cleanse and transform data before moving it to a new system. Temporary tables can be used to hold the cleansed data, allowing for multiple transformation steps to be applied sequentially.

INTO #CleanedData
FROM RawData
WHERE IsValid = 1;

UPDATE #CleanedData
SET Column1 = REPLACE(Column1, 'OldValue', 'NewValue');

The ‘#CleanedData’ temporary table is first populated with valid rows from ‘RawData’, and then a transformation is applied to ‘Column1’.

Case Study: E-commerce Website Performance Optimization

An e-commerce website was experiencing slow performance during peak hours due to complex queries running on the product catalog. By using temporary tables to store intermediate query results, the database team was able to reduce query execution times significantly, leading to a smoother user experience.

Statistics and Performance Considerations

The use of temporary tables and the SELECT INTO statement can have a significant impact on database performance. Statistics show that queries involving temporary tables can be up to 35% faster than equivalent queries using subqueries or joins on large datasets. However, it’s important to consider the overhead of creating and managing temporary tables, especially in systems with limited resources.

FAQ Section

When should I use a temporary table instead of a subquery?

Temporary tables are ideal when you need to reuse the result set of a query multiple times or when breaking down a complex query into simpler steps for better performance and readability.

Can I create indexes on temporary tables?

Yes, you can create indexes on temporary tables to improve query performance, just as you would on regular tables.

Are temporary tables automatically dropped?

Local temporary tables are automatically dropped when the session that created them ends, while global temporary tables are dropped when the last session referencing them is closed.

Can I use SELECT INTO to copy data to an existing table?

No, SELECT INTO creates a new table. To insert data into an existing table, use the INSERT INTO SELECT statement.

Is there a limit to the number of temporary tables I can create?

The limit is generally high and depends on the database system and available resources. However, it’s good practice to manage temporary tables efficiently and drop them when they are no longer needed.


In conclusion, the strategic use of temporary tables and the SELECT INTO statement in SQL can greatly enhance data manipulation tasks, offering a blend of performance, flexibility, and isolation. By understanding and applying these tools effectively, database professionals can tackle complex data challenges with confidence and efficiency. As with any powerful tool, it’s essential to use them judiciously and in the right context to maximize their benefits while minimizing potential downsides.


For further reading and a deeper dive into the technical aspects of SQL temporary tables and the SELECT INTO statement, consider exploring the following resources:

  • SQL Server documentation on temporary tables and table variables: Microsoft Docs
  • Oracle documentation on the SELECT INTO statement: Oracle Docs
  • Performance analysis of temporary tables vs. subqueries: SQL Shack

By leveraging these resources and incorporating the insights from this article, you’ll be well-equipped to optimize your SQL workflows and manage data with greater precision and control.

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