A Guide to Configuring BigQuery Backup Retention Policies

Cover Image for A Guide to Configuring BigQuery Backup Retention Policies
Slik Protect
Slik Protect

A Comprehensive Guide to BigQuery Backup Retention Policies


As a crucial part of data management, configuring backup retention policies in BigQuery is essential for maintaining and safeguarding your organization's valuable data assets. This comprehensive guide walks you through the process of setting up BigQuery backup retention policies to efficiently manage and control data storage, ensure data availability, and reduce costs. Explore the benefits of implementing a well-planned data retention strategy, including optimizing storage utilization, meeting compliance requirements, and facilitating disaster recovery. Dive into the specifics of creating, modifying, and customizing BigQuery Table and Partition expiration policies, and discover the best practices for streamlining the backup process in your organization. By mastering BigQuery backup retention policies, you can maximize your data warehousing capabilities and make more informed decisions for your business.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Benefits of Configuring Backup Retention Policies
  • BigQuery Table Expiration
  • BigQuery Partition Expiration
  • Customizing Retention Policies
  • Best Practices for Configuring BigQuery Backup Retention Policies
  • Automate BigQuery Backups with Slik Protect
  • Conclusion


Data availability is vital for organizations as they increasingly rely on the data they collect to make critical business decisions. Losing valuable data due to an accident, system failure, or even a malicious attack could have severe consequences for any business. Backup retention policies serve as crucial safeguards to ensure the continuity and integrity of an organization's data.

In this guide, we will explore the different aspects of configuring backup retention policies in BigQuery, Google's serverless and highly scalable data warehousing solution. By understanding how to set up BigQuery backup retention policies efficiently, you can efficiently manage your data storage, availability, and costs.

Benefits of Configuring Backup Retention Policies

Implementing a well-defined data retention policy has several advantages, which include:

  • Optimizing Storage Utilization: Data storage costs can be significant, especially for large organizations. Configuring retention policies will help you manage the lifecycle of your data, ensuring that it remains available for a specified period and then automatically deleted when no longer needed. This approach helps optimize storage usage and reduces costs.

  • Meeting Compliance Requirements: Many industries and regulatory frameworks – like the GDPR and HIPAA – require organizations to retain specific data for specific periods. Setting retention policies for your data in BigQuery can help you meet these compliance requirements and avoid possible fines.

  • Facilitating Disaster Recovery: In the event of a system failure, human error, or a malicious attack, having a proper backup retention policy ensures that your business-critical data is protected and available for recovery. This can minimize the impact of the incident on your business operations.

BigQuery Table Expiration

BigQuery allows you to set an expiration time for a table, ensuring that it will be automatically deleted after the specified period has passed. This is useful when working with temporary or intermediate data processing tables that you only need for a limited amount of time.

To set an expiration time for a BigQuery table, you can use either the BigQuery Web UI or the command-line tool bq. Here is an example of how to set a table's expiration time using the bq command-line tool:

bq update --expiration <expiration_in_seconds> <project_id>:<dataset_id>.<table_id>

Replace <expiration_in_seconds>, <project_id>, <dataset_id>, and <table_id> with the appropriate values for your case.

BigQuery Partition Expiration

BigQuery also supports partitioning your tables based on a specific column, such as a date or timestamp. Partitioning your data allows you to manage and query it more efficiently, making the process faster and cheaper.

When working with partitioned tables, you can set an expiration time for individual partitions, ensuring that they will be deleted automatically once the configured period has passed.

To set a partition expiration time, you can use the bq command-line tool, as mentioned earlier. Here's an example of how you can set the partition expiration for a specific table:

bq update --time_partitioning_expiration=<expiration_in_seconds> <project_id>:<dataset_id>.<table_id>

Replace <expiration_in_seconds>, <project_id>, <dataset_id>, and <table_id> with the appropriate values for your case.

Customizing Retention Policies

BigQuery's default retention policy is to keep your data indefinitely. However, in some cases, you might want to customize this to better suit your organization's business and compliance requirements.

To customize the retention period for your BigQuery tables, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Google Cloud Console.
  2. Navigate to the BigQuery section.
  3. Click on the dataset containing the table for which you want to modify the retention period.
  4. Click on the table name to open its details.
  5. Click on the "Edit Schema" button.
  6. In the "Options" tab, locate the "Table expiration" setting and set the desired retention period.
  7. Click "Save" to apply the changes.

Best Practices for Configuring BigQuery Backup Retention Policies

When configuring BigQuery backup retention policies, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Regularly review your data retention policies to ensure they align with your business and compliance requirements.
  • Evaluate the costs associated with storing your data in BigQuery and adjust your retention policies to reduce costs without compromising data availability.
  • Implement a monitoring system to track and alert you about potential data storage and retention issues in real-time.

Automate BigQuery Backups with Slik Protect

For those looking for a simple, automated solution for managing BigQuery backups, Slik Protect offers an easy-to-use tool that takes care of backups and restorations. With Slik Protect, you can:

  • Set up automated backups and restoration in less than 2 minutes.
  • Be confident that your data is secured and protected, ensuring business continuity.
  • Eliminate manual backup tasks, saving time for more critical business tasks.

To learn more and try Slik Protect, visit their website at


In this comprehensive guide, we have covered various aspects of configuring BigQuery backup retention policies, including table expiration, partition expiration, and customizing retention policies. By implementing a well-planned data retention strategy, you can optimize storage utilization, meet compliance requirements, and facilitate disaster recovery.

As an additional resource, consider trying Slik Protect, an automated BigQuery backup and restoration solution that can save time and ensure the security and availability of your data. With knowledge of BigQuery backup retention policies and tools like Slik Protect at your disposal, you can be confident in your organization's data management capabilities, allowing you to make informed decisions for your business's future.