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Manage schema changes

You can specify for each connection how Airbyte should handle any change of schema in the source. This process helps ensure accurate and efficient data syncs, minimizing errors and saving you time and effort in managing your data pipelines.

Airbyte checks for any changes in your source schema immediately before syncing, at most once every 24 hours.

Detection and Propagate Schema Changes

Based on your configured settings for Detect and propagate schema changes, Airbyte will automatically sync those changes or ignore them:

Propagate all changesAll new tables and column changes from the source will automatically be propagated and reflected in the destination. This includes stream changes (additions or deletions), column changes (additions or deletions) and data type changes
Propagate column changes only (default)Only column changes will be propagated
IgnoreSchema changes will be detected, but not propagated. Syncs will continue running with the schema you've set up. To propagate the detected schema changes, you will need to approve the changes manually
Pause ConnectionConnections will be automatically disabled as soon as any schema changes are detected

Types of Schema Changes

When propagation is enabled, your data in the destination will automatically shift to bring in the new changes.

Type of Schema ChangePropagation Behavior
New ColumnThe new colummn will be created in the destination. Values for the column will be filled in for the updated rows. If you are missing values for rows not updated, a backfill can be done by completing a full resync.
Removal of columnThe old column will be removed from the destination.
New streamThe first sync will create the new stream in the destination and fill all data in as if it is a historical sync.
Removal of streamThe stream will stop updating, and any existing data in the destination will remain.
Column data type changesThe data in the destination will remain the same. Any new or updated rows with incompatible data types will result in a row error in the raw Airbyte tables. You will need to refresh the schema and do a full resync to ensure the data types are consistent.

Ensure you receive webhook notifications for your connection by enabling Schema update notifications in the connection's settings.

In all cases, if a breaking schema change is detected, the connection will be paused immediately for manual review to prevent future syncs from failing. Breaking schema changes occur when:

  • An existing primary key is removed from the source
  • An existing cursor is removed from the source

To re-enable the streams, ensure the correct Primary Key and Cursor are selected for each stream and save the connection.

Review non-breaking schema changes

If the connection is set to Ignore any schema changes, Airbyte continues syncing according to your last saved schema. You need to manually approve any detected schema changes for the schema in the destination to change.

  1. In the Airbyte UI, click Connections. Select a connection and navigate to the Replication tab. If schema changes are detected, you'll see a blue "i" icon next to the Replication ab.

  2. Click Review changes.

  3. The Refreshed source schema dialog displays the changes detected.

  4. Review the changes and click OK to close the dialog.

  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save changes.

Resolving breaking changes

Breaking changes require your attention to resolve. They may immediately cause the connection to be disabled, or you can upgrade the connector manually within a time period once reviewing the changes.

A connection will always automatically be disabled if an existing primary key or cursor field is removed. You must review and fix the changes before editing the connection or resuming syncs.

Breaking changes can also occur when a new version of the connector is released. In these cases, the connection will alert you of a breaking change but continue to sync until the cutoff date for upgrade. On the cutoff date, the connection will automatically be disabled on that date to prevent failure or unexpected behavior. It is highly recommended to upgrade before the cutoff date to ensure you continue syncing without interruption.

A major version upgrade will include a breaking change if any of these apply:

Type of ChangeDescription
Connector Spec ChangeThe configuration has been changed and syncs will fail until users reconfigure or re-authenticate.
Schema ChangeThe type of property previously present within a record has changed and a refresh of the source schema is required.
Stream or Property RemovalData that was previously being synced is no longer going to be synced
Destination Format / Normalization ChangeThe way the destination writes the final data or how Airbyte cleans that data is changing in a way that requires a full refresh
State ChangesThe format of the source’s state has changed, and the full dataset will need to be re-synced

To review and fix breaking schema changes:

  1. In the Airbyte UI, click Connections and select the connection with breaking changes.

  2. Review the description of what has changed in the new version. The breaking change will require you to upgrade your source or destination to a new version by a specific cutoff date.

  3. Update the source or destination to the new version to continue syncing.

Manually refresh the source schema

In addition to Airbyte Cloud’s automatic schema change detection, you can manually refresh the source schema to stay up to date with changes in your schema.

To manually refresh the source schema:

  1. In the Airbyte UI, click Connections and then click the connection you want to refresh.

  2. Click the Replication tab.

  3. In the Activate the streams you want to sync table, click Refresh source schema to fetch the schema of your data source.

  4. If there are changes to the schema, you can review them in the Refreshed source schema dialog.