1. sql
  2. /references
  3. /update

SQL UPDATE Statements


The SQL UPDATE statement is used to modify existing data in a table. The basic syntax for an UPDATE statement is as follows:

UPDATE table_name 
SET column1 = value1, column2 = value2 
WHERE some_column = some_value;
  • The UPDATE keyword is followed by the name of the table that you want to update.
  • The SET keyword is followed by the columns and new values that you want to set for the existing data. You must specify at least one column-value pair in the SET clause.
  • The WHERE clause is used to specify which rows to update. If you omit the WHERE clause, all rows in the table will be updated.


Here's an example of how you might use the UPDATE statement to change the email address of a customer with a specific ID:

UPDATE customers 
SET email = '[email protected]' 
WHERE id = 1001;

This statement updates the email column of the row in the customers table where the id is 1001 and sets the value of the email column to '[email protected]'.

You can also update multiple columns at once:

UPDATE customers 
SET email = '[email protected]', phone_number = '555-555-5555' 
WHERE customer_id = 1001;

It's also possible to update a column based on the value of other columns in the same row.

UPDATE table_name 
SET column1 = column1 + 1 
WHERE some_column = some_value;

You must be careful when using the UPDATE statement without a WHERE clause, as it will update every row in the table. It is a best practice to always include a WHERE clause to avoid accidentally updating more rows than intended.

Best Practices

Here are some best practices for using the SQL UPDATE statement:

  • Always include a WHERE clause in your UPDATE statement, so that you only update the rows that you intend to change. This can prevent accidentally updating too many rows and causing unintended consequences.

  • Test your UPDATE statement on a small, non-critical dataset before running it on a production database. This can help you catch any errors or issues before they affect important data.

  • Be mindful of the order of operations when using multiple UPDATE statements in a single query. If you are updating multiple columns, it's a good idea to specify the columns in the order that you want them to be updated, to avoid any dependencies between the updates.

  • Always backup your data before running an UPDATE statement, in case you need to revert the changes.

  • Use a transaction if you are doing multiple UPDATE statements, so that all statements will be treated as a single unit of work. If one statement fails it will rollback all the changes instead of just that one statement.

  • Use a LIMIT clause to update only a required number of rows. Especially useful when you want to update large number of rows at once.