BigQuery Restore Deleted Tables In 2 Easy Steps

Talha • Last Modified: April 24th, 2023

Bigquery restore deleted tables FI

BigQuery is a completely managed Data Warehouse service offered by Google. It can store petabytes of data. BigQuery supports standard SQL dialect and provides JDBC and ODBC drivers for facilitating client connections. Like all modern Data Warehouse services, it separates compute and storage processes. It can also query data that is stored in object stores like Google Cloud Storage. In that sense, it can be thought of as an amalgamation of a Data Lake and Data Warehouse.

Beyond the standard Data Warehouse features, BigQuery provides many other nice-to-have features like native machine learning support, natural language-based querying, geospatial analysis support, multi-cloud support, etc. This post is about the automatic backup and restores feature of BigQuery and how to restore tables using it. 

In this article, you will learn how to BigQuery Restore Deleted Tables in 2 Easy Steps. You will also learn about BigQuery and its key features.

Table of Contents

What is BigQuery?

BigQuery by Google is a Data Warehousing solution that stands out. It takes advantage of the Google Cloud Platform to provide a fully managed server-less solution to users. Furthermore, its cloud-native nature provides a wide range of benefits for customers, including lightning-fast querying on a terabyte-scale in seconds. Another major advantage is the server-less design, which helps users save time and money. Simply said, you can scale up and down quickly without wasting resources.

Key Features of BigQuery

  • Integrations: Because Google BigQuery includes so many built-in integrations, creating a data lake is a breeze.
  • Built-in Machine Learning Integration: For machine learning models on huge datasets, extensive machine learning understanding was once required. Machine learning integration on Google BigQuery, on the other hand, removed this limitation because users could utilize the tool to create such a database.
  • Multi-Cloud Functionality: BigQuery’s multi-cloud functionality allows users to study and query data from several cloud platforms.
  • Automated Data Transfer: You can use this functionality to schedule data transfers into Google BigQuery regularly.
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  • Google Cloud Account with BigQuery Storage API permission.
  • Basic understanding of database concepts.

BigQuery Restore Deleted Tables: Understanding BigQuery Backup And Restore Feature

Despite taking utmost care and establishing bulletproof processes, mistakes do happen in the world of data. This is why backing up and restoring features are critical for a modern data warehouse. BigQuery provides a feature called time travel that allows one to restore the table to any point of time in the last 7 days. This feature is a great help in case accidental modification of data happens. This is also a great feature when you want to analyze the state of the table at a particular point in time to troubleshoot bugs. Time travel is enabled by default for all tables and can be exploited using the console, via commands, or even through SQL.

For users who want historical data availability beyond 7 days, BigQuery provides a feature called snapshots. Snapshots are readable copies of data from a table a specific points in time. Snapshots need to be separately configured and scheduled. Saved snapshots can be restored to other tables to bring back data from history. The granularity of historic data restoration depends on the scheduled frequency of snapshots. Snapshots generally take lesser space than the original table since they only store the changes concerning the original table and not complete data. 

BigQuery Restore Deleted Tables Process: Backing Up and Restoring BigQuery Tables

We will now try to create snapshots for a BigQuery Restore Deleted Table from the snapshot. 

BigQuery Restore Deleted Tables Steps: Creating Snapshots

  • Step 1: The first step to BigQuery restore deleted table is to create a snapshot of any table is as easy as heading to the BigQuery Console and configuring the expiration time for the snapshot. Head to the BigQuery Console, click on the table that you are trying to backup and click Snapshot:
BigQuery Restore Deleted Tables: Create snapshot step 1
Image Source: Self
  • Step 2: The next step to BigQuery restore deleted table is to configure the details for the snapshot destination. Two key attributes need to be configured in this section. Expiration time and Snapshot time.

Expiration time represents the time after which the snapshot will be discarded. If no expiration time is specified, this will default to the source table’s expiration time. Snapshot time refers to the point in time in which your source table’s state should be copied. Because of BigQuery’s time travel function, this can be set at any time in the last 7 days. This means, you are not just limited to taking snapshots at the current time but can take a snapshot of your table state at any point in the last 7 days. 

BigQuery Restore Deleted Tables: Create snapshot step 2
Image Source: Self
  • Step 3: The next step to BigQuery restore deleted table is to Click Save and your snapshot should now be created in the dataset that you specified. 

Snapshots can be created using the cloud console, SQL, bq command or the APIs. For example, if you want to do this through SQL, you can use the below snippet.

  OPTIONS(expiration_timestamp = TIMESTAMP "2022-05-27 12:00:00.00-00:00")

In production, snapshots are often scheduled to run in predefined times so that tables are backup up regularly. This can be done by creating Google Service Account bots.

BigQuery Restore Deleted Tables Steps: Restoring Tables from Snapshots

  • Step 1: The next step to BigQuery restore deleted table is to restore a table from a snapshot, head to the dataset where the snapshot was configured, and click on the specific snapshot that has to be restored. 
BigQuery Restore Deleted Tables: Restore tables step 1
Image Source: Self
  • Step 2: The next step to BigQuery restore deleted table is this. The resulting popup will ask for details of the destination project and the dataset in which the table has to be created. A key detail is a checkbox for allowing overwriting. If checked, this will ensure that the target table is overwritten if it already exists. Otherwise, an error will be thrown if the target table exists. 
BigQuery Restore Deleted Tables: Restore tables step 2
Image Source: Self

BigQuery restore deleted table can also be done through SQL, bq commands, or API. For example, to restore a table using SQL, the following SQL command can be used.

CREATE TABLE library.customers_new
CLONE library_backup.customers

That’s it. You have now learned how to create snapshots and restore BigQuery tables from snapshots. BigQuery’s time travel feature works even if the table is deleted till the 7 days window is expired. 


BigQuery restore deleted table has been explained in two easy steps in this article. BigQuery’s time travel feature, snapshots and restore mechanism protects users against accidental deletes and data corruption. While the console makes it easier for anyone to do it, in some cases like restoring a deleted table, one will have to use the SQL or ‘bq’ command method. On another note, if you are someone who works a lot with BigQuery and needs a way to make data transfers to and from BigQuery easier, you should checkout Hevo. 

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