The File table engine keeps the data in a file in one of the supported file formats (TabSeparated, Native, etc.).

Usage examples:

  • Data export from ClickHouse to file.
  • Convert data from one format to another.
  • Updating data in ClickHouse via editing a file on a disk.

Usage in ClickHouse Server


The Format parameter specifies one of the available file formats. To perform SELECT queries, the format must be supported for input, and to perform INSERT queries -- for output. The available formats are listed in the Formats section.

ClickHouse does not allow to specify filesystem path forFile. It will use folder defined by path setting in server configuration.

When creating table using File(Format) it creates empty subdirectory in that folder. When data is written to that table, it's put into data.Format file in that subdirectory.

You may manually create this subfolder and file in server filesystem and then ATTACH it to table information with matching name, so you can query data from that file.


Be careful with this functionality, because ClickHouse does not keep track of external changes to such files. The result of simultaneous writes via ClickHouse and outside of ClickHouse is undefined.


1. Set up the file_engine_table table:

CREATE TABLE file_engine_table (name String, value UInt32) ENGINE=File(TabSeparated)

By default ClickHouse will create folder /var/lib/clickhouse/data/default/file_engine_table.

2. Manually create /var/lib/clickhouse/data/default/file_engine_table/data.TabSeparated containing:

$ cat data.TabSeparated
one 1
two 2

3. Query the data:

SELECT * FROM file_engine_table
│ one  │     1 │
│ two  │     2 │

Usage in Clickhouse-local

In clickhouse-local File engine accepts file path in addition to Format. Default input/output streams can be specified using numeric or human-readable names like 0 or stdin, 1 or stdout. Example:

$ echo -e "1,2\n3,4" | clickhouse-local -q "CREATE TABLE table (a Int64, b Int64) ENGINE = File(CSV, stdin); SELECT a, b FROM table; DROP TABLE table"

Details of Implementation

  • Multiple SELECT queries can be performed concurrently, but INSERT queries will wait each other.
  • Not supported:
    • ALTER
    • Indices
    • Replication