Snowflake : Leveraging Snowflake’s Zero-Copy Cloning for Efficient Data Management: A Detailed Guide


Snowflake offers a powerful feature called Zero-Copy Cloning. This feature enables users to create a clone of a table, schema, or database without copying the underlying data. In this article, we will explore the concept of Zero-Copy Cloning in Snowflake, understand its advantages and disadvantages, and walk through a detailed example using the ‘freshers_in’ prefix for our table.

Zero-Copy Cloning Explained

In Snowflake, a clone is a separate and independent object that shares the same data as the source object without copying or duplicating the data. The cloning process is instantaneous, as it only creates metadata pointers to the existing data. Any changes made to the clone or the source object will not affect each other. This means that you can use clones for various purposes such as testing, development, or backup without impacting the original data or incurring additional storage costs for duplicated data.


Let’s say we have a table named ‘freshers_in_students’ containing student records. We want to create a clone of this table for testing purposes without affecting the original data. Here’s how we can do this in Snowflake:

-- Create a clone of the 'freshers_in_students' table
CREATE TABLE freshers_in_students_clone CLONE freshers_in_students;

This command will create a new table called ‘freshers_in_students_clone’ with the same data as ‘freshers_in_students’, without copying the underlying data. Any modifications made to the clone will not affect the original table, and vice versa.

Advantages of Zero-Copy Cloning

Instant Cloning: Zero-Copy Cloning is extremely fast, as it only creates metadata pointers to the existing data rather than duplicating it.

Cost Efficiency: Since the cloning process does not duplicate data, it saves on storage costs, making it an economical solution for creating multiple copies of your data.

Simplified Data Management: Cloning enables you to create independent copies of your data for various use cases like testing, development, and backups without affecting the original data.

Improved Security: Cloning allows you to isolate sensitive data by creating a clone with limited access for specific users, reducing the risk of unauthorized data access.

Disadvantages of Zero-Copy Cloning

Storage Impact: Although Zero-Copy Cloning does not duplicate data, any modifications to the source or clone will consume additional storage, as Snowflake needs to maintain separate data for each version.

Complexity: Managing multiple clones may increase the complexity of your data architecture, making it harder to track changes and maintain consistency across different environments.


Snowflake’s pricing model is based on usage, which includes both compute and storage costs. While Zero-Copy Cloning helps save on storage costs by not duplicating data, any modifications to the clone or the source object will consume additional storage. It’s essential to be mindful of storage costs when using clones, especially when dealing with large datasets.

Snowflake’s Zero-Copy Cloning is a powerful feature that enables efficient data management by creating independent copies of tables, schemas, or databases without copying the underlying data. By understanding its advantages and disadvantages, you can make informed decisions on when and how to use this feature effectively in your data warehousing strategy.

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