Saturday, January 27, 2024

2 Ways to remove duplicate rows in SQL? Example Tutorial

Hello guys, if you are wondering how to remove duplicate rows in SQL and looking for solutions on different databases like SQL Server, MySQL, and Oracle then you have come to the right place. In this article, I am going to share 2 ways to remove duplicate rows from SQL, first by using GROUP BY and HAVING clause and second by using the RANK function which works on most of the databases.  You can use any of the approaches to remove duplicates from tables using SQL. This is also one of the popular SQL Interview Questions so knowing how to solve this problem will also give you an edge on interviews. 

Why is deleting duplicate rows necessary?

When developing SQL Server objects, we should adhere to specific best practices. To maintain data integrity and performance, a table should include primary keys, identity columns, clustered and non-clustered indexes, and constraints. 

Even if we follow best practices, we may encounter problems such as duplicate rows. We may also get these data in interim tables during data import, and we'll want to eliminate duplicate entries before inserting them into production tables.

Let's say you have duplicate rows in your SQL database and you want to get rid of them. We have to deal with these challenges on a regular basis. However, if we already have duplicate rows in the database, it is a recommended practice to utilize the relevant keys and constraints to eliminate the risk of duplicate rows. 

To clear up duplicate data, we must use certain procedures. The methods for removing duplicate data from a SQL table are discussed in this article.

Setting up Data

Before we can solve this problem, we'll need some example data to help us visualize it. Let's make an employee table with some data.

The following query will be used.

CREATE TABLE Employee (id int(50) primary key, name varchar(80), salary int(50));

Now, Insert some data into this table. I have inserted some data as below. Have included some famous names for some excitement :p Hope you guys like cricket! We are using the same table we used in finding the Nth highest salary article. But, we will add a few duplicates. The updated table looks something like this : 

How to remove duplicate rows in SQL? Example Tutorial

As you can see, it is clearly visible we have duplicate records, as the ID is the primary key and usually has business logic of auto-increment, we can safely ignore it here.


The SQL GROUP BY clause is used in this approach to find duplicate entries. The COUNT function may be used to examine the occurrence of a row using the Group By clause, which organizes data according to the provided columns.

For example, if we run the following query, we'll obtain all of the records in the Employee database that have an incidence larger than one.

SELECT name, salary, 


FROM Employee

GROUP BY name, salary


The result of the following query is as shown below : 

We need to preserve only one row and get rid of the duplicates. Only duplicate rows in the table need to be removed. The Emp Virat and Chahal occur twice in the table, for example. We simply want to get rid of one instance of it.

To compute the maximum id of each data row, we utilize the SQL MAX function.


    FROM Employee



        SELECT MAX(id)

        FROM Employee

        GROUP BY name, salary


The result of the above query is something like below : 

We can see that the Select line above leaves out the maximum ID value for each duplicate row, leaving only the minimum ID value.

Replace the first Select with the SQL delete statement as shown in the following query to eliminate this data.


    FROM Employee



        SELECT MAX(id)

        FROM Employee

        GROUP BY name, salary


Perform a select on an Employee table after executing the delete statement, and you'll obtain the following entries that don't have any duplicate rows.

2. SQL DELETE using RANK function

We may also utilize the SQL RANK function to get rid of the duplicate rows. Regardless of duplicate rows, the SQL RANK function returns a unique row ID for each row.

The PARTITION BY clause is used with the RANK function in the following query. The PARTITION BY clause divides the data into subsets for the provided columns and assigns a rating to each partition.


FROM Employee E JOIN



        RANK() OVER(PARTITION BY name, salary

        ORDER BY id) rank

 FROM Employee

) T ON E.ID = T.ID;

The results we would get are similar to the previous one. All the duplicates would be removed. The method is a bit more complex than the previous one as you can see but provides a better way to rank the columns and check. You can replace the DELETE keyword with SELECT and by selecting the appropriate columns, you would be able to see the ranks of the columns and the output.


That's all about how to delete or remove duplicate rows from a table in SQL. In this post, we looked at 2 ways to delete duplicate rows in SQL using a variety of methods, including SQL functions. You are free to utilize whatever way makes you feel most at ease. However, I would advise against immediately implementing these techniques and packaging on production data. You should do your tests in a less demanding environment.

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