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Performance of adding a table column with a default value

Oracle Database Tips by Donald BurlesonSeptember 24, 2016

Question: What can I do to increase the performance of an "alter table xxx add column yyy default value 'zzz';?  I understand that this will invoke a full table scan.  Can this alter table default value be done in parallel with Oracle parallel query?

Answer:  The behavior of the "alter table add column default value" behavior has changed between versions of Oracle.  You use a command like this:

alter table
add column
default value
not null';

Before Oracle 11gr2 this was a very time-consuming command that required parallel DDL;

Beginning with Oracle 11g release 2, Oracle introduced a great optimization for the "alter column add column default value".

Oracle behaves differently in 11gr2 and 12c.

It stores the default value only in data dictionary instead of updating each physical row.

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