Guide to efficient data ingestion to CrateDB with pandas


Bulk insert is a technique for efficiently inserting large amounts of data into a database by submitting multiple rows of data in a single database transaction. Instead of executing multiple SQL INSERT statements for each individual row of data, the bulk insert allows the database to process and store a batch of data at once. This approach can significantly improve the performance of data insertion, especially when dealing with large datasets.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to efficiently perform bulk inserts into CrateDB with pandas using the insert_bulk method, available in the crate Python library. To follow along with this tutorial, you should have the following:

  • A working installation of CrateDB. To get started with CrateDB check this link.
  • Python, Pandas, SQLAlchemy, and crate driver installed on your machine
  • Basic familiarity with pandas and SQL

Bulk insert to CrateDB

The following example illustrates how to implement batch insert with the pandas library by using the insert_bulk method available in the crate driver.

import sqlalchemy as sa
import crate
import pandas as pd
from sqlalchemy import create_engine
from import insert_bulk
from pandas._testing import makeTimeDataFrame

CHUNK_SIZE = 50000

df = makeTimeDataFrame(nper=INSERT_RECORDS, freq="S")
engine = sa.create_engine('crate://localhost:4200')


By running this code, you will generate a DataFrame with a time-based index containing 5,000,000 rows of data. Each row represents a timestamp with a frequency of 1 second (freq="S"). The DataFrame is then inserted into a cratedb-demo table in CrateDB using the to_sql() method. If the table already exists, it will be replaced with the new data. The data insertion will be performed in batches, with each batch containing 50,000 records. Defining the chunksize parameter helps in managing memory and improving performance during the data insertion process.

The above code runs in approximately 14s on a local Mac M1 machine with 16GiB RAM. However, if we insert data to CrateDB by setting the method parameter to None (one insert per row), the execution time increases to 27sec.

How to find the right chunksize

Determining the right chunksize depends on several factors, such as the size of your data, the number of columns in your data set, and the available memory of your machine.

The chunksize parameter in the to_sql() method controls the number of rows inserted in each batch. By default, chunksize=None, which means the entire DataFrame will be written to the database at once. However, when working with large datasets, it is recommended to set a smaller chunksize value to avoid memory issues and to improve the performance of the data insertion.

To determine the right chunksize value, you can try different values and observe the memory usage and the time it takes to complete the data insertion. A good starting point is to set the chunksize value to a fraction of the total number of rows in your DataFrame. For example, you can start with a chunksize value of 10,000 or 50,000 rows and see how it performs. If the data insertion is slow, you can try increasing the chunksize value to reduce the number of batches. On the other hand, if you encounter memory issues, you can try reducing the chunksize value.


Congratulations! You have learned how to implement an efficient data insert into CrateDB using Pandas and insert_bulk method. This method allows for efficient and fast data insertion, making it suitable for handling large datasets.

If you like this tutorial and want to explore further CrateDB functionalities, please visit our documentation and join our community.

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