Renaming a table may break existing clients that depend on the old table name.

During deployments, you can have multiple versions of your app running at the same time. If you rename a table that the old version of your app depends on, your app will likely error.


don't rename the table#

This is the simplest solution. If you're using an ORM (Object Relational Mapper), you can rename the object in your code, but leave the SQL table name as is.

rename with minor locking via database views#

We have a table with the name user_stars that we want to rename to user_favorites. Database views allow us to rename a table with temporary locking during the rename.

  1. Create a view with the name of your desired table using our original table
CREATE VIEW user_favorites as SELECT * FROM user_stars;
  1. Deploy your new code that references user_favorites and remove your old deployment that references user_stars

  2. Delete our view and rename the table now that user_stars is no longer queried directly.

DROP VIEW user_favorites;
ALTER TABLE user_stars RENAME TO user_favorites;

This transaction will acquire an ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock on the user_stars table, blocking all reads and writes to the table while the table is renamed. This should effectively be instantaneous.

use a shadow table for zero locking#

A complicated solution that eliminates the need for locking is to create a new table with triggers to keep both tables in sync. Backfill the new table from the old table and then transition reads/writes to the new table. Once all reads/writes are transitioned, delete the old table. See "Hot Swapping Production Tables for Safe Database Backfills" for more information.