Update and delete data features

You can update and delete data in a V2 Iceberg table.

Hive and Impala update and delete Iceberg V2 tables using position delete files, one type of encoding defined by the Iceberg Spec. Row-level deletes and updates are supported.Position delete files contain the following information:
  • file_path, which is a full URI
  • pos, the file position of the row
  • row, the deleted row values, usually omitted
  • Iceberg metadata, delete files per partition and min/max statistics
Delete files are sorted by file_path and pos. The following table shows an example of delete files in a partitioned table:
Table 1.
Partition Partition information Delete file




YEAR(ts)=2023 ts_year=2023/data-efgh.parquet ts_year=2023/delete-hxkw.parquet
MONTH(ts)=2023-06 ts_month=2023-06/data-ijkl.parquet ts_month=2023-06/delete-uzwd.parquet
MONTH(ts)=2023-07 ts_month=2023-07/data-mnop.parquet ts_month=2023-07/delete-udqx.parquet
Neither SQL engine supports equality deletes, the other type of encoding. As a typical user, you are oblivious to these encodings. If you have a problem with updates or deletes in the following situations, an equality delete file in the table is the likely cause:
  • In Change Data Capture (CDC) applications
  • In upserts from Apache Flink
  • From a third-party engine

Inserting, deleting, or updating table data generates a snapshot. A new snapshot corresponds to a new manifest list. Manifest lists are named snap-*.avro.

Hive and Impala evaluate rows from one table against an optional WHERE clause, and delete all the rows that match WHERE conditions, or all rows if you omit WHERE. The WHERE expression is the same as the WHERE expression SELECT. The conditions in the WHERE clause can refer to any combination of primary key columns or other columns. If you omit the WHERE clause, all rows are removed from the table. If some rows cannot be deleted because some primary key columns are not found due to being deleted by a concurrent DELETE operation, the statement succeeds but returns a warning.

A DELETE statement might also overlap with INSERT, UPDATE, or UPSERT statements running concurrently on the same table. After the statement finishes, you might have more or fewer rows than expected in the table because it is undefined whether the DELETE applies to rows that are inserted or updated while the DELETE is in progress.

From joined tables, you can delete all matching rows from one of the tables. You can join tables of any kind, but the table from which the rows are deleted must be an Iceberg table. The FROM keyword is required in this case, to separate the name of the table whose rows are being deleted from the table names of the join clauses.

Hive or Impala syntax

update tablename set column = value [, column = value ...] [where expression]
delete from tablename [where expression]
delete joined_tablename from [joined_tablename, joined_tablename2, ...] [ where expression ] 

Hive or Impala examples

create external table tbl_ice(a int, b s
insert into tbl_ice values (1, 'one', 50), (2, 'two', 51), (3, 'three', 52), (4, 'four', 53), (5, 'five', 54), (111, 'one', 55), (333, 'two', 56);

update tbl_ice set b='Changed' where b in (select b from tbl_ice where a < 4);

delete from tbl_ice where a <= 2,1;

The following example deletes all rows of the table. The FROM keyword is optional.

delete from ice_table;

The following example deletes 0, 1, or more rows of the table. If col1 is a primary key, 0 or 1 rows are deleted:

delete from ice_table where col1 = 100;

For more information, including examples, see Using Impala with Iceberg Tables.