DELETE - DATA MANIPULATION LANGUAGE(DML)
DELETE statement in any RDBMS is considered a DML statement. Also known as CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete), this kind of statement is intended to manipulate data in a database without affecting the underlying structure of the objects. What this means in practical term is:
DELETE statement can be fine-tuned using a predicate via either
JOIN to delete some or all rows in a table.
DELETE statement will be logged by the database and can be rolled back within a transaction if the statement fails.
- Typically a
DELETE will take row level locks on the data it is deleted, though this could escalate higher as necessary.
- Because of the transactional overhead,
DELETE can be "slow" (this is relative), but safer because it is fine-grained.
TRUNCATE - DATA DEFINITION LANGUAGE(DDL)
TRUCNATE is considered a DDL statement, meaning that it is intended to alter how objects are defined in a database. Usually, DDL statements are
TRUNCATE serves a particular purpose, that of "resettting" a table by removing all the rows. The methods of this differ between the RDBMS engines and I would recommend looking at the specifics of MySQL. The practical implications of a
TRUNCATE can not be fine grained. If successful, it will remove all the rows from your table.
TRUNCATE is typically not logged. This varies by RDBMS and I would suggest you looks more specifically at how MySQL handles it. (Hint, it varies by version.)
TRUNCATE requires a table metadata lock to execute. How this is actually implemented can be specific to RDBMS, but essentially the
TRUNCATE process must prevent other processes from mucking with the table in order to execute its DDL.
- Because it is (typically) not logged and does not use predicates, a
TRUNCATE will be faster than a
DELETE, but less safe.
DROP TABLE - DATA DEFINITION LANGUAGE(DDL)
DROP TABLE goes further than a
TRUNCATE in that it actually removes the table from the database completely. This includes removing all associated objects, such as indexes and constraints. If you dropped a table, not only would you remove all the data, but the structure as well. This will usually be done when a table is no longer needed. The primary concern is that since a
DROP is DDL, you typically can't undo it. Some RDBMS engines will allow you to wrap DDL within a transaction so you can roll it back, but this is not considered best practice and should be avoided.