Amazon Redshift
Database Developer Guide (API Version 2012-12-01)

Updating and Inserting New Data

You can efficiently add new data to an existing table by using a combination of updates and inserts from a staging table. While Amazon Redshift does not support a single merge, or upsert, command to update a table from a single data source, you can perform a merge operation by creating a staging table and then using one of the methods described in this section to update the target table from the staging table.


You should run the entire merge operation, except for creating and dropping the temporary staging table, in a single transaction so that the transaction will roll back if any step fails. Using a single transaction also reduces the number of commits, which saves time and resources.

Merge Method 1: Replacing Existing Rows

If you are overwriting all of the columns in the target table, the fastest method for performing a merge is by replacing the existing rows because it scans the target table only once, by using an inner join to delete rows that will be updated. After the rows are deleted, they are replaced along with new rows by a single insert operation from the staging table.

Use this method if all of the following are true:

  • Your target table and your staging table contain the same columns.

  • You intend to replace all of the data in the target table columns with all of the staging table columns.

  • You will use all of the rows in the staging table in the merge.

If any of these criteria do not apply, use Merge Method 2: Specifying a column list, described in the following section.

If you will not use all of the rows in the staging table, you can filter the DELETE and INSERT statements by using a WHERE clause to leave out rows that are not actually changing. However, if most of the rows in the staging table will not participate in the merge, we recommend performing an UPDATE and an INSERT in separate steps, as described later in this section.

Merge Method 2: Specifying a Column List

Use this method to update specific columns in the target table instead of overwriting entire rows. This method takes longer than the previous method because it requires an extra update step. Use this method if any of the following are true:

  • Not all of the columns in the target table are to be updated.

  • Most rows in the staging table will not be used in the updates.