Cloning Considerations

This topic provides important considerations when cloning objects in Snowflake, particularly databases, schemas, and tables. Factors such as DDL and DML transactions (on the source object), Time Travel, and data retention periods can affect the object clone.

In this Topic:

Access Control Privileges for Cloned Objects

A cloned object does not retain any granted privileges on the source object itself (i.e. clones do not automatically have the same privileges as their sources). A system administrator or the owner of the cloned object must explicitly grant any required privileges to the newly-created clone.

However, if the source object is a database or schema, for child objects (tables, views, etc.) in the source, the clone replicates all granted privileges on the corresponding child objects.

Rules for Cloning Stages

The following rules apply to cloning stages or objects that contain stages (i.e. databases and schemas):

  • Individual external named stages can be cloned; internal named stages cannot be cloned.
  • When cloning a database or schema:
    • External named stages that were present in the source when the cloning operation started are cloned.
    • Tables are cloned, which means their internal staging locations are also cloned.
    • Internal named stages are not cloned.

Regardless of how a stage or staging location was cloned, the clone does not include any of the files from the source. i.e. all cloned external stages and internal staging locations are empty.

Impact of DDL on Cloning

Cloning is fast, but not instantaneous, particularly for large objects (e.g. tables). As such, if DDL statements are executed on source objects (e.g. renaming tables in a schema) while the cloning operation is in progress, the changes may not be represented in the clone. This is because DDL statements are atomic and not part of multi-statement transactions.

Furthermore, Snowflake does not record which object names were present when the cloning operation started and which names changed. As such, DDL statements that rename (or drop and recreate) source child objects compete with any in-progress cloning operations and can cause name conflicts.

In the following example, the t_sales table is dropped and another table is altered and given the same name as the dropped table while the parent database is being cloned, producing an error:


DROP TABLE sales.public.t_sales;

ALTER TABLE sales.public.t_sales_20170522 RENAME TO sales.public.t_sales;

002002 (42710): None: SQL compilation error: Object 'T_SALES' already exists.


To avoid conflicts in name resolution during a cloning operation, we suggest refraining from renaming objects to a name previously used by a dropped object until cloning is completed.

Impact of DML and Data Retention on Cloning

The DATA_RETENTION_TIME_IN_DAYS parameter specifies the number of days for which Snowflake retains historical data for performing Time Travel actions on an object. Because the data retained for Time Travel incurs storage costs at the table-level, some users set this parameter to 0 for some tables, effectively disabling data retention for these tables (i.e. when the value is set to 0, Time Travel data retained for DML transactions is purged, incurring negligible additional storage costs).

Cloning operations require time to complete, particularly for large tables. During this period, DML transactions can alter the data in a source table. Subsequently, Snowflake attempts to clone the table data as it existed when the operation began. However, if data is purged for DML transactions that occur during cloning (because the retention time for the table is 0), the data is unavailable to complete the operation, producing an error similar to the following:

ProgrammingError occured: "000707 (02000): None: Data is not available." with query id None


As a workaround, we recommend either of the following best practices when cloning an object:

  • Refrain, if possible, from executing DML transactions on the source object (or any of its children) until after the cloning operation completes.

  • If this isn’t possible, prior to starting cloning, set DATA_RETENTION_TIME_IN_DAYS=1 for all tables in the schema (or database if you are cloning an entire database). Once the operation completes, remember to reset the parameter value back to 0 for those tables in the source, if desired.

    You might also want to set the value to 0 for the cloned tables (if you plan to make DML changes to the cloned tables and do not wish to incur additional storage costs for Time Travel on the tables).

Cloning Using Time Travel (Databases, Schemas, and Tables Only)

This section describes considerations when using Time Travel to clone objects at a specific time/point in the past.

Cloning of Historical Objects

If the source object did not exist at the time/point specified in the AT | BEFORE clause, an error is returned.

In the following example, a CREATE TABLE ... CLONE statement attempts to clone the source table at a point in the past (30 minutes prior) when it didn’t exist:

CREATE TABLE t_sales (numeric integer) data_retention_time_in_days=1;

CREATE OR REPLACE TABLE sales.public.t_sales_20170522 CLONE sales.public.t_sales at(offset => -60*30);

002003 (02000): SQL compilation error:
Object 'SALES.PUBLIC.T_SALES' does not exist.

Also note that any child object that did not exist at the specified time/point is not cloned.

Cloning of Historical Object Metadata

A cloned object inherits the definition of the source object at the time the statement is executed. The definition includes object names, comments, table columns, and so on.

In the following example, table t_sales is renamed t_sales_20170522, and then data is inserted into the renamed table. The schema containing the table is cloned at a time 30 minutes prior, before the table was renamed and the data inserted. The clone contains a table with its current name, not the previous name, but with a snapshot of the data at the specified time:

CREATE OR REPLACE TABLE t_sales (numeric integer) data_retention_time_in_days=1;

INSERT INTO  t_sales (numeric)
VALUES (1),(2),(3);

ALTER TABLE sales.public.t_sales RENAME TO sales.public.t_sales_20170522;

INSERT INTO  t_sales_20170522 (numeric)

CREATE OR REPLACE SCHEMA sales.private CLONE sales.public at(offset => -60*30);

USE SCHEMA sales.private;


| created_on                    | name             | database_name | schema_name | kind  | comment | cluster_by | rows | bytes | owner    | retention_time |
| 2017-05-24 10:15:07.110 -0700 | T_SALES_20170522 | SALES         | PRIVATE     | TABLE |         |            |    4 |  1024 | SYSADMIN | 1              |


|       1 |
|       2 |
|       3 |