Stopping System-Versioning on a System-Versioned Temporal Table

APPLIES TO: yesSQL Server yesAzure SQL Database noAzure SQL Data Warehouse noParallel Data Warehouse

You may want to stop versioning on your temporal table either temporarily or permanently.
You can do that by setting SYSTEM_VERSIONING clause to OFF.


Stop system-versioning if you want to perform specific maintenance operations on temporal table or if you don't need a versioned table anymore. As a result of this operation you will get two independent tables:

  • Current table with period definition

  • History table as a regular table

Important remarks

  • History Table will stop caturing the updates for the duration of SYSTEM_VERSIONING = OFF.

  • No data loss happens on the temporal table when you set SYSTEM_VERSIONING = OFF or drop the SYSTEM_TIME period.

  • When you set SYSTEM_VERSIONING = OFF and do not remove drop the SYSTEM_TIME period, the system will continue to update the period columns for every insert and update operation. Deletes on current table will be permanent.

  • Drop the SYSTEM_TIME period to remove the period columns completely.

  • When you set SYSTEM_VERSIONING = OFF, all users that have sufficient permissions will be able to modify schema and content of history table or even to permanently delete the history table.

Permanently remove SYSTEM_VERSIONING

This example permanently removes SYSTEM_VERSIONING and removes the period columns completely. Removing the period columns is optional.

/*Optionally, DROP PERIOD if you want to revert temporal table to a non-temporal*/   
ALTER TABLE dbo.Department   

Temporarily remove SYSTEM_VERSIONING

This is the list of operations that requires system-versioning to be set to OFF:

  • Removing unnecessary data from history (DELETE or TRUNCATE)

  • Removing data from current table without versioning (DELETE, TRUNCATE)

  • Partition SWITCH OUT from current table

  • Partition SWITCH IN into history table

This example temporarily stops SYSTEM_VERSIONING to allow you to perform specific maintenance operations. If you stop versioning temporarily as a prerequisite for table maintenance, we strongly recommend doing this inside a transaction to keep data consistency.


When turning system versioning back on, do not forget to specify the HISTORY_TABLE argument. Failing to do so will result in a new history table being created and associated with the current table. The original history table will still exist as a normal table, but won't be associated with the current table.

TRUNCATE TABLE [History].[DepartmentHistory]   
ALTER TABLE dbo.Department SET    
SYSTEM_VERSIONING = ON (HISTORY_TABLE = History.DepartmentHistory)   

See Also

Temporal Tables
Getting Started with System-Versioned Temporal Tables
Manage Retention of Historical Data in System-Versioned Temporal Tables
System-Versioned Temporal Tables with Memory-Optimized Tables
Creating a System-Versioned Temporal Table
Modifying Data in a System-Versioned Temporal Table
Querying Data in a System-Versioned Temporal Table
Changing the Schema of a System-Versioned Temporal Table