Before Deleting a Database Table, Change Its Name

When a MySQL table is no longer needed, it could be deleted. However, are you sure that the necessary changes have been made so that the website is no longer connected to the table? It's tough to know for sure when the old database table is still available for querying. If the table is removed and it's still being used, it takes time to fix the connection(s). The database table could be restored until everything is fixed, but that's going to take time also. Instead, let's consider renaming the table before permanently deleting it.

phpMyAdmin screenshot showing the option for renaming tablesDepending on how often a website uses a database table, it may be a while before everything is cleaned up. Plus, there's likely to be other projects needing our attention. With the rush to complete everything, it's easy to make mistakes.

Let's say an old database table is being replaced with a new set of tables. The updated table structure contains the same information; the data is just organized in a more efficient manner.

When modifying the website to use the new tables, it can be difficult to tell if the update did anything. After all, both the old and new database tables contain essentially the same information. If the updated script was uploaded to the wrong location or if a script was missed altogether, we may not notice a difference—until the old table is removed.

If there's any doubt on whether a table is still being used by the website, changing the table's name is an easy way to know for sure. It only takes a second to change the name back if things go wrong.


Over the course of maintaining a website, there's a good chance that you'll need to remove an old database table or two. When that day comes, consider renaming the table before deleting it outright. If the website still functions as expected, the tables can be removed.


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