What Is a Timestamp Data Type?


Heather Bennett

In this tutorial, we will explore the concept of a timestamp data type in databases. A timestamp is a special data type that stores a specific point in time or a date and time combination.

What is a Timestamp Data Type?

A timestamp data type is used to store date and time information. It represents a unique point in time, typically measured from the start of January 1, 1970, UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). This point in time is often referred to as the Unix epoch.

Why Use Timestamps?

Timestamps are commonly used in database systems to track when records are created or modified. They provide an accurate and consistent way of recording time-related information.

How are Timestamps Stored?

The actual implementation of timestamps may vary depending on the database system being used. However, most databases store timestamps as a numeric value representing the number of seconds or milliseconds since the Unix epoch.

Working with Timestamps

To work with timestamps in your database, you can use SQL statements to insert, update, and retrieve records based on their timestamp values.

Inserting Records with Timestamps

To insert a record with a timestamp value, you can use an SQL INSERT statement. For example:

INSERT INTO table_name (column1, column2, timestamp_column)

In this example, we use the CURRENT_TIMESTAMP function to get the current date and time as the value for the timestamp column.

Updating Records with Timestamps

If you need to update records with new timestamps when they are modified, you can use an SQL UPDATE statement. For example:

UPDATE table_name
SET column1 = value1, column2 = value2, timestamp_column = CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
WHERE condition;

In this example, we again use the CURRENT_TIMESTAMP function to set the timestamp column to the current date and time.

Retrieving Records based on Timestamps

To retrieve records based on their timestamp values, you can use SQL SELECT statements with appropriate conditions. For example:

SELECT * FROM table_name WHERE timestamp_column > '2022-01-01 00:00:00';

In this example, we select all records from the table where the timestamp column is greater than a specific date and time.


A timestamp data type is a valuable tool in databases for tracking and managing time-related information. By using timestamps, you can accurately record when records are created or modified and perform various operations based on these timestamps.

Now that you have a better understanding of timestamps, you can start using them in your own database applications to enhance time-related functionality.

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