SQLite is an in-process library that implements a self-contained, serverless, zero-configuration, transactional SQL database engine. The code for SQLite is in the public domain and is thus free for use for any purpose, commercial or private. SQLite is currently found in more applications than we can count, including several high-profile projects.
SQLite is an embedded SQL database engine. Unlike most other SQL databases, SQLite does not have a separate server process. SQLite reads and writes directly to ordinary disk files. A complete SQL database with multiple tables, indices, triggers, and views, is contained in a single disk file. The database file format is cross-platform - you can freely copy a database between 32-bit and 64-bit systems or between big-endian and little-endian architectures. These features make SQLite a popular choice as an Application File Format. Think of SQLite not as a replacement for Oracle but as a replacement for fopen()
SQLite is a compact library. With all features enabled, the library size can be less than 500KiB, depending on the target platform and compiler optimization settings. (64-bit code is larger. And some compiler optimizations such as aggressive function inlining and loop unrolling can cause the object code to be much larger.) If optional features are omitted, the size of the SQLite library can be reduced below 300KiB. SQLite can also be made to run in minimal stack space (4KiB) and very little heap (100KiB), making SQLite a popular database engine choice on memory constrained gadgets such as cellphones, PDAs, and MP3 players. There is a tradeoff between memory usage and speed. SQLite generally runs faster the more memory you give it. Nevertheless, performance is usually quite good even in low-memory environments.
SQLite is very carefully tested prior to every release and has a reputation for being very reliable. Most of the SQLite source code is devoted purely to testing and verification. An automated test suite runs millions and millions of test cases involving hundreds of millions of individual SQL statements and achieves 100% branch test coverage. SQLite responds gracefully to memory allocation failures and disk I/O errors. Transactions are ACID even if interrupted by system crashes or power failures. All of this is verified by the automated tests using special test harnesses which simulate system failures. Of course, even with all this testing, there are still bugs. But unlike some similar projects (especially commercial competitors) SQLite is open and honest about all bugs and provides bugs lists and minute-by-minute chronologies of bug reports and code changes.
The SQLite code base is supported by an international team of developers who work on SQLite full-time. The developers continue to expand the capabilities of SQLite and enhance its reliability and performance while maintaining backwards compatibility with the published interface spec, SQL syntax, and database file format. The source code is absolutely free to anybody who wants it, but professional support is also available.
We the developers hope that you find SQLite useful and we charge you to use it well: to make good and beautiful products that are fast, reliable, and simple to use. Seek forgiveness for yourself as you forgive others. And just as you have received SQLite for free, so also freely give, paying the debt forward.
Appropriate Uses For SQLite
SQLite is not directly comparable to client/server SQL database engines such as MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, or SQL Server since SQLite is trying to solve a different problem.
Client/server SQL database engines strive to implement a shared repository of enterprise data. They emphasis scalability, concurrency, centralization, and control. SQLite strives to provide local data storage for individual applications and devices. SQLite emphasizes economy, efficiency, reliability, independence, and simplicity.
SQLite does not compete with client/server databases. SQLite competes with fopen().
Situations Where SQLite Works Well
- Embedded devices and the internet of things
Because an SQLite database requires no administration, it works well in devices that must operate without expert human support. SQLite is a good fit for use in cellphones, set-top boxes, televisions, game consoles, cameras, watches, kitchen appliances, thermostats, automobiles, machine tools, airplanes, remote sensors, drones, medical devices, and robots: the "internet of things".
Client/server database engines are designed to live inside a lovingly-attended datacenter at the core of the network. SQLite works there too, but SQLite also thrives at the edge of the network, fending for itself while providing fast and reliable data services to applications that would otherwise have dodgy connectivity.
- Application file format
SQLite is often used as the on-disk file format for desktop applications such as version control systems, financial analysis tools, media cataloging and editing suites, CAD packages, record keeping programs, and so forth. The traditional File/Open operation calls sqlite3_open() to attach to the database file. Updates happen automatically as application content is revised so the File/Save menu option becomes superfluous. The File/Save_As menu option can be implemented using the backup API.
SQLite works great as the database engine for most low to medium traffic websites (which is to say, most websites). The amount of web traffic that SQLite can handle depends on how heavily the website uses its database. Generally speaking, any site that gets fewer than 100K hits/day should work fine with SQLite. The 100K hits/day figure is a conservative estimate, not a hard upper bound. SQLite has been demonstrated to work with 10 times that amount of traffic.
The SQLite website (https://www.sqlite.org/) uses SQLite itself, of course, and as of this writing (2015) it handles about 400K to 500K HTTP requests per day, about 15-20% of which are dynamic pages touching the database. Each dynamic page does roughly 200 SQL statements.(this means 20 millions CRUD operations per day --ScottGu) This setup runs on a single VM that shares a physical server with 23 others and yet still keeps the load average below 0.1 most of the time.
- Data analysis
People who understand SQL can employ the sqlite3 command-line shell (or various third-party SQLite access programs) to analyze large datasets. Raw data can be imported from CSV files, then that data can be sliced and diced to generate a myriad of summary reports. More complex analysis can be done using simple scripts written in Tcl or Python (both of which come with SQLite built-in) or in R or other languages using readily available adaptors. Possible uses include website log analysis, sports statistics analysis, compilation of programming metrics, and analysis of experimental results. Many bioinformatics researchers use SQLite in this way.
The same thing can be done with an enterprise client/server database, of course. The advantage of SQLite is that it is easier to install and use and the resulting database is a single file that can be written to a USB memory stick or emailed to a colleague.
- Cache for enterprise data
Many applications use SQLite as a cache of relevant content from an enterprise RDBMS(this is what i am looking for). This reduces latency, since most queries now occur against the local cache and avoid a network round-trip. It also reduces the load on the network and on the central database server. And in many cases, it means that the client-side application can continue operating during network outages.
- Server-side database
Systems designers report success using SQLite as a data store on server applications running in the datacenter, or in other words, using SQLite as the underlying storage engine for an application-specific database server.
With this pattern, the overall system is still client/server: clients send requests to the server and get back replies over the network. But instead of sending generic SQL and getting back raw table content, the client requests and server responses are high-level and application-specific. The server translates requests into multiple SQL queries, gathers the results, does post-processing, filtering, and analysis, then constructs a high-level reply containing only the essential information.
Developers report that SQLite is often faster than a client/server SQL database engine in this scenario. Database requests are serialized by the server, so concurrency is not an issue. Concurrency is also improved by "database sharding(分区)": using separate database files for different subdomains. For example, the server might have a separate SQLite database for each user, so that the server can handle hundreds or thousands of simultaneous connections, but each SQLite database is only used by one connection.
- File archives
The SQLite Archiver project shows how SQLite can be used as a substitute for ZIP archives or Tarballs. An archive of files stored in SQLite is only very slightly larger, and in some cases actually smaller, than the equivalent ZIP archive. And an SQLite archive features incremental and atomic updating and the ability to store much richer metadata.
SQLite archives are useful as the distribution format for software or content updates that are broadcast to many clients. Variations on this idea are used, for example, to transmit TV programming guides to set-top boxes and to send over-the-air updates to vehicle navigation systems.
- Replacement for ad hoc disk files
- Internal or temporary databases
For programs that have a lot of data that must be sifted（筛过的） and sorted in diverse ways, it is often easier and quicker to load the data into an in-memory SQLite database and use queries with joins and ORDER BY clauses to extract the data in the form and order needed rather than to try to code the same operations manually. Using an SQL database internally in this way also gives the program greater flexibility since new columns and indices can be added without having to recode every query.
- Stand-in for an enterprise database during demos or testing
Client applications typically use a generic database interface that allows connections to various SQL database engines. It makes good sense to include SQLite in the mix of supported databases and to statically link the SQLite engine in with the client. That way the client program can be used standalone with an SQLite data file for testing or for demonstrations.
- Education and Training
Because it is simple to setup and use (installation is trivial: just copy the sqlite3 or sqlite3.exe executable to the target machine and run it) SQLite makes a good database engine for use in teaching SQL. Students can easily create as many databases as they like and can email databases to the instructor for comments or grading. For more advanced students who are interested in studying how an RDBMS is implemented, the modular and well-commented and documented SQLite code can serve as a good basis.
- Experimental SQL language extensions
The simple, modular design of SQLite makes it a good platform for prototyping new, experimental database language features or ideas.
Situations Where A Client/Server RDBMS May Work Better
- Client/Server Applications
If there are many client programs sending SQL to the same database over a network, then use a client/server database engine instead of SQLite. SQLite will work over a network filesystem, but because of the latency associated with most network filesystems, performance will not be great. Also, file locking logic is buggy many network filesystem implementations (on both Unix and Windows). If file locking does not work correctly, two or more clients might try to modify the same part of the same database at the same time, resulting in corruption. Because this problem results from bugs in the underlying filesystem implementation, there is nothing SQLite can do to prevent it.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid using SQLite in situations where the same database will be accessed directly (without an intervening application server) and simultaneously from many computers over a network.
- High-volume Websites
SQLite will normally work fine as the database backend to a website. But if the website is write-intensive or is so busy that it requires multiple servers, then consider using an enterprise-class client/server database engine instead of SQLite.
- Very large datasets
An SQLite database is limited in size to 140 terabytes (247 bytes, 128 tibibytes). And even if it could handle larger databases, SQLite stores the entire database in a single disk file and many filesystems limit the maximum size of files to something less than this. So if you are contemplating databases of this magnitude, you would do well to consider using a client/server database engine that spreads its content across multiple disk files, and perhaps across multiple volumes.
- High Concurrency
SQLite supports an unlimited number of simultaneous readers, but it will only allow one writer at any instant in time. For many situations, this is not a problem. Writer queue up. Each application does its database work quickly and moves on, and no lock lasts for more than a few dozen milliseconds. But there are some applications that require more concurrency, and those applications may need to seek a different solution.
Checklist For Choosing The Right Database Engine
- Is the data separated from the application by a network? → choose client/server
Relational database engines act as bandwidth-reducing data filters. So it is best to keep the database engine and the data on the same physical device so that the high-bandwidth engine-to-disk link does not have to traverse the network, only the lower-bandwidth application-to-engine link.
But SQLite is built into the application. So if the data is on a separate device from the application, it is required that the higher bandwidth engine-to-disk link be across the network. This works, but it is suboptimal. Hence, it is usually better to select a client/server database engine when the data is on a separate device from the application.
Nota Bene: In this rule, "application" means the code that issues SQL statements. If the "application" is an application server and if the content resides on the same physical machine as the application server, then SQLite might still be appropriate even though the end user is another network hop away.
- Many concurrent writers? → choose client/server
If many threads and/or processes need to write the database at the same instant (and they cannot queue up and take turns) then it is best to select a database engine that supports that capability, which always means a client/server database engine.
SQLite only supports one writer at a time per database file. But in most cases, a write transaction only takes milliseconds and so multiple writers can simply take turns. SQLite will handle more write concurrency that many people suspect. Nevertheless, client/server database systems, because they have a long-running server process at hand to coordinate access, can usually handle far more write concurrency than SQLite ever will.
- Big data? → choose client/server
If your data will grow to a size that you are uncomfortable or unable to fit into a single disk file, then you should select a solution other than SQLite. SQLite supports databases up to 140 terabytes in size, assuming you can find a disk drive and filesystem that will support 140-terabyte files. Even so, when the size of the content looks like it might creep into the terabyte range, it would be good to consider a centralized client/server database.
- Otherwise → choose SQLite!
For device-local storage with low writer concurrency and less than a terabyte of content, SQLite is almost always a better solution. SQLite is fast and reliable and it requires no configuration or maintenance. It keeps thing simple. SQLite "just works".
Distinctive Features Of SQLite
This page highlights some of the characteristics of SQLite that are unusual and which make SQLite different from many other SQL database engines.
SQLite does not need to be "installed" before it is used. There is no "setup" procedure. There is no server process that needs to be started, stopped, or configured. There is no need for an administrator to create a new database instance or assign access permissions to users. SQLite uses no configuration files. Nothing needs to be done to tell the system that SQLite is running. No actions are required to recover after a system crash or power failure. There is nothing to troubleshoot.
SQLite just works.
Other more familiar database engines run great once you get them going. But doing the initial installation and configuration can be intimidatingly complex.
Most SQL database engines are implemented as a separate server process. Programs that want to access the database communicate with the server using some kind of interprocess communication (typically TCP/IP) to send requests to the server and to receive back results. SQLite does not work this way. With SQLite, the process that wants to access the database reads and writes directly from the database files on disk. There is no intermediary server process.
There are advantages and disadvantages to being serverless. The main advantage is that there is no separate server process to install, setup, configure, initialize, manage, and troubleshoot. This is one reason why SQLite is a "zero-configuration" database engine. Programs that use SQLite require no administrative support for setting up the database engine before they are run. Any program that is able to access the disk is able to use an SQLite database.
On the other hand, a database engine that uses a server can provide better protection from bugs in the client application - stray pointers in a client cannot corrupt memory on the server. And because a server is a single persistent process, it is able control database access with more precision, allowing for finer grain locking and better concurrency.
Most SQL database engines are client/server based. Of those that are serverless, SQLite is the only one that this author knows of that allows multiple applications to access the same database at the same time.
Single Database File
An SQLite database is a single ordinary disk file that can be located anywhere in the directory hierarchy. If SQLite can read the disk file then it can read anything in the database. If the disk file and its directory are writable, then SQLite can change anything in the database. Database files can easily be copied onto a USB memory stick or emailed for sharing.
Other SQL database engines tend to store data as a large collection of files. Often these files are in a standard location that only the database engine itself can access. This makes the data more secure, but also makes it harder to access. Some SQL database engines provide the option of writing directly to disk and bypassing the filesystem all together. This provides added performance, but at the cost of considerable setup and maintenance complexity.
Stable Cross-Platform Database File
The SQLite file format is cross-platform. A database file written on one machine can be copied to and used on a different machine with a different architecture. Big-endian or little-endian, 32-bit or 64-bit does not matter. All machines use the same file format. Furthermore, the developers have pledged to keep the file format stable and backwards compatible, so newer versions of SQLite can read and write older database files.
Most other SQL database engines require you to dump and restore the database when moving from one platform to another and often when upgrading to a newer version of the software.
When optimized for size, the whole SQLite library with everything enabled is less than 500KiB in size (as measured on an ix86 using the "size" utility from the GNU compiler suite.) Unneeded features can be disabled at compile-time to further reduce the size of the library to under 300KiB if desired.
Most other SQL database engines are much larger than this. IBM boasts that its recently released CloudScape database engine is "only" a 2MiB jar file - an order of magnitude larger than SQLite even after it is compressed! Firebird boasts that its client-side library is only 350KiB. That's as big as SQLite and does not even contain the database engine. The Berkeley DB library from Oracle is 450KiB and it omits SQL support, providing the programmer with only simple key/value pairs.
Manifest typing“弱类型” （manifest typing）
Most SQL database engines use static typing. A datatype is associated with each column in a table and only values of that particular datatype are allowed to be stored in that column. SQLite relaxes this restriction by using manifest typing. In manifest typing, the datatype is a property of the value itself, not of the column in which the value is stored. SQLite thus allows the user to store any value of any datatype into any column regardless of the declared type of that column. (There are some exceptions to this rule: An INTEGER PRIMARY KEY column may only store integers. And SQLite attempts to coerce values into the declared datatype of the column when it can.)
As far as we can tell, the SQL language specification allows the use of manifest typing. Nevertheless, most other SQL database engines are statically typed and so some people feel that the use of manifest typing is a bug in SQLite. But the authors of SQLite feel very strongly that this is a feature. The use of manifest typing in SQLite is a deliberate（深思熟虑的） design decision which has proven in practice to make SQLite more reliable and easier to use, especially when used in combination with dynamically typed programming languages such as Tcl and Python.
Most other SQL database engines allocated a fixed amount of disk space for each row in most tables. They play special tricks for handling BLOBs and CLOBs which can be of wildly varying length. But for most tables, if you declare a column to be a VARCHAR(100) then the database engine will allocate 100 bytes of disk space regardless of how much information you actually store in that column.
SQLite, in contrast, use only the amount of disk space actually needed to store the information in a row. If you store a single character in a VARCHAR(100) column, then only a single byte of disk space is consumed. (Actually two bytes - there is some overhead at the beginning of each column to record its datatype and length.)
The use of variable-length records by SQLite has a number of advantages. It results in smaller database files, obviously. It also makes the database run faster, since there is less information to move to and from disk. And, the use of variable-length records makes it possible for SQLite to employ manifest typing instead of static typing.
Readable source code
The source code to SQLite is designed to be readable and accessible to the average programmer. All procedures and data structures and many automatic variables are carefully commented with useful information about what they do. Boilerplate commenting is omitted.
SQL statements compile into virtual machine code
Every SQL database engine compiles each SQL statement into some kind of internal data structure which is then used to carry out the work of the statement. But in most SQL engines that internal data structure is a complex web of interlinked structures and objects. In SQLite, the compiled form of statements is a short program in a machine-language like representation. Users of the database can view this virtual machine language by prepending the EXPLAIN keyword to a query.
The use of a virtual machine in SQLite has been a great benefit to the library's development. The virtual machine provides a crisp, well-defined junction between the front-end of SQLite (the part that parses SQL statements and generates virtual machine code) and the back-end (the part that executes the virtual machine code and computes a result.) The virtual machine allows the developers to see clearly and in an easily readable form what SQLite is trying to do with each statement it compiles, which is a tremendous help in debugging. Depending on how it is compiled, SQLite also has the capability of tracing the execution of the virtual machine - printing each virtual machine instruction and its result as it executes.
The source code for SQLite is in the public domain. No claim of copyright is made on any part of the core source code. (The documentation and test code is a different matter - some sections of documentation and test logic are governed by open-source licenses.) All contributors to the SQLite core software have signed affidavits specifically disavowing any copyright interest in the code. This means that anybody is able to legally do anything they want with the SQLite source code.
There are other SQL database engines with liberal licenses that allow the code to be broadly and freely used. But those other engines are still governed by copyright law. SQLite is different in that copyright law simply does not apply.
The source code files for other SQL database engines typically begin with a comment describing your license rights to view and copy that file. The SQLite source code contains no license since it is not governed by copyright. Instead of a license, the SQLite source code offers a blessing:
May you do good and not evil
May you find forgiveness for yourself and forgive others
May you share freely, never taking more than you give.
SQL language extensions
SQLite provides a number of enhancements to the SQL language not normally found in other database engines. The EXPLAIN keyword and manifest typing have already been mentioned above. SQLite also provides statements such as REPLACE and the ON CONFLICT clause that allow for added control over the resolution of constraint conflicts. SQLite supports ATTACH and DETACH commands that allow multiple independent databases to be used together in the same query. And SQLite defines APIs that allows the user to add new SQL functions and collating sequences.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I create an AUTOINCREMENT field.
- What datatypes does SQLite support?
- SQLite lets me insert a string into a database column of type integer!
- Why doesn't SQLite allow me to use '0' and '0.0' as the primary key on two different rows of the same table?
- Can multiple applications or multiple instances of the same application access a single database file at the same time?
- Is SQLite threadsafe?
- How do I list all tables/indices contained in an SQLite database
- Are there any known size limits to SQLite databases?
- What is the maximum size of a VARCHAR in SQLite?
- Does SQLite support a BLOB type?
- How do I add or delete columns from an existing table in SQLite.
- I deleted a lot of data but the database file did not get any smaller. Is this a bug?
- Can I use SQLite in my commercial product without paying royalties?
- How do I use a string literal that contains an embedded single-quote (') character?
- What is an SQLITE_SCHEMA error, and why am I getting one?
- Why does ROUND(9.95,1) return 9.9 instead of 10.0? Shouldn't 9.95 round up?
- I get some compiler warnings when I compile SQLite. Isn't this a problem? Doesn't it indicate poor code quality?
- Case-insensitive matching of Unicode characters does not work.
- INSERT is really slow - I can only do few dozen INSERTs per second
- I accidentally deleted some important information from my SQLite database. How can I recover it?
- What is an SQLITE_CORRUPT error? What does it mean for the database to be "malformed"? Why am I getting this error?
- Does SQLite support foreign keys?
- I get a compiler error if I use the SQLITE_OMIT_... compile-time options when building SQLite.
- My WHERE clause expression column1="column1" does not work. It causes every row of the table to be returned, not just the rows where column1 has the value "column1".
- How are the syntax diagrams (a.k.a. "railroad" diagrams) for SQLite generated?
- The SQL standard requires that a UNIQUE constraint be enforced even if one or more of the columns in the constraint are NULL, but SQLite does not do this. Isn't that a bug?
- What is the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) for SQLite?
- My query does not return the column name that I expect. Is this a bug?