Scanning a table - Amazon DynamoDB
Services or capabilities described in Amazon Web Services documentation might vary by Region. To see the differences applicable to the China Regions, see Getting Started with Amazon Web Services in China.

Scanning a table

In SQL, a SELECT statement without a WHERE clause will return every row in a table. In Amazon DynamoDB, the Scan operation does the same thing. In both cases, you can retrieve all of the items or just some of them.

Whether you are using a SQL or a NoSQL database, scans should be used sparingly because they can consume large amounts of system resources. Sometimes a scan is appropriate (such as scanning a small table) or unavoidable (such as performing a bulk export of data). However, as a general rule, you should design your applications to avoid performing scans.


Doing a bulk export also creates at least 1 file per partition. All of the items in each file are from that particular partition's hashed keyspace.


In SQL, you can scan a table and retrieve all of its data by using a SELECT statement without specifying a WHERE clause. You can request one or more columns in the result. Or you can request all of them if you use the wildcard character (*).

The following are examples of using a SELECT statement.

/* Return all of the data in the table */ SELECT * FROM Music;
/* Return all of the values for Artist and Title */ SELECT Artist, Title FROM Music;


In Amazon DynamoDB, you can use either the DynamoDB API, or PartiQL, a SQL-compatible query language, to perform a scan on a table.

DynamoDB API

With the DynamoDB API, you use the Scan operation to return one or more items and item attributes by accessing every item in a table or a secondary index.

// Return all of the data in the table { TableName: "Music" }
// Return all of the values for Artist and Title { TableName: "Music", ProjectionExpression: "Artist, Title" }

The Scan action also provides a FilterExpression parameter, which you can use to discard items that you do not want to appear in the results. A FilterExpression is applied after the scan is performed, but before the results are returned to you. (This is not recommended with large tables. You are still charged for the entire Scan, even if only a few matching items are returned.)


For code examples that use Scan, see Getting started with DynamoDB and the Amazon SDKs.

PartiQL for DynamoDB

With PartiQL, you perform a scan by using the ExecuteStatement operation to return all the contents for a table using the Select statement.

SELECT AlbumTitle, Year, Price FROM Music

Note that this statement will return all items for in the Music table.

For code examples using Select and ExecuteStatement, see PartiQL select statements for DynamoDB.