Designated timestamp

QuestDB offers the option to elect a column as designated timestamp. This allows you to leverage the high-performance time series functions of QuestDB, but introduces a constraint on the column in question that will reject out-of-order inserts.


  • Only a timestamp column can be designated timestamp.
  • Only one column can be elected for a given table.
  • Designated timestamp can be elected either:
    • during table creation.
    • on the fly on sub-tables created within a query.

To elect a timestamp column on the fly, please refer to the dynamic timestamp documentation.

Out-of-order policy#

Once a column is elected as designated timestamp, it will enforce an order policy on this column. Inserts in designated timestamp need to be incrementing and out-of-order timestamps inserts will be rejected. This does not affect the behaviour of other columns.


New timestamps need to be greater or equal to the latest timestamp in the column.


Electing a designated timestamp allows you to:

  • Leverage timestamp partitions. For more information, refer to the partitions section.
  • Use time series joins such as ASOF JOIN. For more information refer to the JOIN reference.


Representation of designated timestamp as a special column alongside other existing timestamp columns. Note that:

  • The designated timestamp column only allows ordered timestamps.
  • Any other timestamp column tolerates out-of-order timestamps.
Comparison between a designated timestamp and a normal timestamp

Attempts to insert out-of-order timestamps will be rejected:

Diagram of an out of order insertion being rejected

Working with timestamp order constraint#

The constraint provides many benefits for both insert and query speed. However, it may be impractical in certain cases, for example when inserting values from multiple devices with slightly different clocks or network conditions. Luckily, there are ways to circumvent this with little overhead.


This is a temporary workaround. We are working on a table implementation which supports out-of-order insertion.

  • Use the database host clock as designated timestamp by using systimestamp():
CREATE TABLE readings(
db_ts timestamp,
device_ts timestamp,
device_name symbol,
reading int)
to_timestamp('2020-03-01:15:43:21', 'yyyy-MM-dd:HH:mm:ss'),

For more information about systimestamp() and related functions, check the date & time functions section.

  • Use a temporary table for the latest partition. Data can be out-of-order in this table.
Main table
CREATE TABLE readings(
db_ts timestamp,
device_ts timestamp,
device_name symbol,
reading int)
Temporary table
CREATE TABLE readings_temp(
db_ts timestamp,
device_ts timestamp,
device_name symbol,
reading int);

When switching over to a new day, order the data in the temporary partition as it is inserted into the main table.


Insert ordered data
INSERT INTO readings
SELECT * FROM (readings_temp ORDER BY db_ts) timestamp(db_ts);