COPY keyword


For partitioned tables, the best COPY performance can be achieved only on a machine with a local, physically attached SSD. It is possible to use a network block storage, such as an AWS EBS volume to perform the operation, with the following impact:

  • Users need to configure the maximum IOPS and throughput setting values for the volume.
  • The required import time is likely to be 5-10x longer.


Flow chart showing the syntax of the COPY keyword


Copies tables from a delimited text file saved in the defined root directory into QuestDB. COPY has the following import modes:

  • Parallel import, used for copying partitioned tables:

    • The parallel level is based on partition granularity. It is important to choose the timestamp column and partition type correctly for the data to be imported. The higher the granularity of the partitions, the faster an import operation can be completed.
    • If the target table exists and is partitioned, the target table must be empty.
    • If the target table does not exist, both TIMESTAMP and PARTITION BY options must be defined to create a partitioned table. The PARTITION BY value should not be NONE.
    • When table does exist and is not empty, import is not supported.
  • Serial import, used for copying non-partitioned tables:

    • If the target table exists and is not partitioned, the data is appended provided the file structure matches the table.
    • If the target table does not exist, then it is created using metadata derived from the file data.

COPY takes up all the available resources. While one import is running, new request(s) will be rejected.

COPY '<id>' CANCEL cancels the copying operation defined by the import id, while an import is taking place.

Root directory

COPY requires a defined root directory where CSV files are saved and copied from. A CSV file must be saved to the root directory before starting the COPY operation. There are two root directories to be defined:

  • cairo.sql.copy.root is used for storing regular files to be imported.
  • is used for storing temporary files like indexes or temporary partitions. Unless otherwise specified, it points to the root_directory/tmp directory.

Use the configuration keys to edit these properties in COPY configuration settings:


cairo.sql.copy.root and can be on a local disk to the server, on a remote disk, or a remote filesystem. QuestDB enforces that the tables are only written from files located in a directory relative to the directories. This is a security feature preventing random file access by QuestDB.


For Mac OS users, using a directory under /Users may prevent import due to permission problem. It is preferable to save the CSV file in a folder outside of the /Users tree and set the root directory accordingly.

Log table

COPY generates a log table,sys.text_import_log, tracking COPY operation for the last three days with the following information:

Column nameData typeNotes
tstimestampThe log event timestamp
idstringImport id
tablesymbolDestination table name
filesymbolThe source csv file
phasesymbolImport phase.* Available only in intermediate log records of parallel import
statussymbolThe event status: started, finished, failed, cancelled
messagestringThe error message for when status is failed
rows_handledlongThe counters for the total number of scanned lines in the file
The counters are shown in the final log row for the given import
rows_importedlongThe counters for the total number of imported rows
The counters are shown in the final log row for the given import
errorslongThe number of errors for the given phase

* Available phases for parallel import are:

  • setup
  • boundary_check
  • indexing
  • partition_import
  • symbol_table_merge
  • update_symbol_keys
  • build_symbol_index
  • move_partitions
  • attach_partitions
  • analyze_file_structure
  • cleanup

Log table row retention is configurable through cairo.sql.copy.log.retention.days setting, and is three days by default.

COPY returns id value from sys.text_import_log to track the import progress.


  • HEADER true/false: When true, QuestDB automatically assumes the first row is a header. Otherwise, schema recognition is used to determine whether the first row is used as header. The default setting is false.
  • TIMESTAMP: Define the name of the timestamp column in the file to be imported.
  • FORMAT: Timestamp column format when the format is not the default (yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss.SSSUUUZ) or cannot be detected. See Date and Timestamp format for more information.
  • DELIMITER: Default setting is ,.
  • PARTITION BY: Partition unit.
  • ON ERROR: Define responses to data parsing errors. The valid values are:
    • SKIP_ROW: Skip the entire row
    • SKIP_COLUMN: Skip column and use the default value (null for nullable types, false for boolean, 0 for other non-nullable types)
    • ABORT: Abort whole import on first error, and restore the pre-import table status


For more details on parallel import, please also see Importing data in bulk via CSV.

COPY weather FROM 'weather.csv' WITH HEADER true FORMAT 'yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss.SSSUUUZ' ON ERROR SKIP_ROW;

Starts an import asynchronously and returns an import id string:


The log can be accessed by querying:

SELECT * FROM 'sys.text_import_log' WHERE id = '55ca24e5ba328050';

A sample log table:


While it is running, import can be cancelled with:

COPY '55ca24e5ba328050' CANCEL;

Within a few seconds import should stop and message with 'cancelled' status should appear in text_import_log, e.g.:

SELECT * FROM 'sys.text_import_log' WHERE id = '55ca24e5ba328050' LIMIT -1;
2022-08-03T14:04:42.268502Z55ca24e5ba328050weatherweather.csvnullcancelledimport cancelled [phase=partition_import, msg=Cancelled]000