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ways to rename/replace tables with minimal disruption

I am looking for suggestions. we have a fairly popular table that will normally carry up to 200000 sessions for most of the day. It has been marked as a '24/7 do not disrupt' critter.
However at the same time we need to rename it and replace it with a different one due to numerous preferred changes. The sessions by the way are persistent. What I am looking for are possible ways to accomplish the change.
(At this time my feeling is to hide it behind server maintenance by placing it in single user in front of the mandatory server restart,with rollback since they are only readers, doing the change and then multiuser>restart and done.
but my thought is perhaps there is a better way. S that is what I am looking for.
must be sql server 2005
the users are all using a vb application. It might be possible to  point to a substitute dbname that points back to the tables replacing the tables (view?)
2 Solutions
You don't do a server restart. That is the most disruptive way. If you want you can create a second table form the original one and then simply rename it when the usage is less possible, during the night maybe:

Lets say your table name is my_table. You will create a new one called my_table_new and then:

EXEC sp_rename my_table, my_table_old
EXEC sp_rename my_table_new, my_table

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I think you need to consider how the code will be updated to point to the new table before you worry about the renaming itself. Your strategy for that will probably reveal the most useful way to handle the table changes. In a previous project we did it using a synonym so the code was abstracted from the underlying table and we could manipulate it with impunity, once the code rollout was complete and the number of hits on the 'old' table reduced to near zero we retired the synonym and left the new table in place

Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
You shouldn't need to restart the SQL instance.

You should consider allowing existing code to continue to referenced the old name for a while; that helps to insure that existing code doesn't break.

To do that, do these steps back-to-back immediately, as part of the same batch/script:

EXEC sp_rename 'dbo.old_table_name', 'new_table_name'
CREATE SYNONYM dbo.old_table_name FOR dbo.new_table_name

After the synonym is created, SQL code using the old_table_name will still reference the new table name when it executes.

>> It might be possible to  point to a substitute dbname that points back to the tables replacing the tables (view?)  <<

I think the synonym gives you what you're referring to there, if I understand it correctly.

Edit: If the new table structure is not compatible with the old one, you can create a view with the old name instead of using a synonym.

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