android android-sqlite sqlexception sqlite sqliteopenhelper

When does SQLiteOpenHelper onCreate() / onUpgrade() run?


I have created my tables in my SQLiteOpenHelper onCreate() but receive

SQLiteException: no such table


SQLiteException: no such column

errors. Why?


(This is the amalgamated summary of tens of similar questions every week. Attempting to provide a “canonical” community wiki question/answer here so that all those questions can be directed to a good reference.)


  • 12

    @Ndupza This isn’t an actual problem of mine, just fed up writing the same answer/comment for the Nth time.

    – laalto

    Feb 19, 2014 at 13:35


SQLiteOpenHelper onCreate() and onUpgrade() callbacks are invoked when the database is actually opened, for example by a call to getWritableDatabase(). The database is not opened when the database helper object itself is created.

SQLiteOpenHelper versions the database files. The version number is the int argument passed to the constructor. In the database file, the version number is stored in PRAGMA user_version.

onCreate() is only run when the database file did not exist and was just created. If onCreate() returns successfully (doesn’t throw an exception), the database is assumed to be created with the requested version number. As an implication, you should not catch SQLExceptions in onCreate() yourself.

onUpgrade() is only called when the database file exists but the stored version number is lower than requested in the constructor. The onUpgrade() should update the table schema to the requested version.

When changing the table schema in code (onCreate()), you should make sure the database is updated. Two main approaches:

  1. Delete the old database file so that onCreate() is run again. This is often preferred at development time where you have control over the installed versions and data loss is not an issue. Some ways to delete the database file:

    • Uninstall the application. Use the application manager or adb uninstall from the shell.

    • Clear application data. Use the application manager.

  2. Increment the database version so that onUpgrade() is invoked. This is slightly more complicated as more code is needed.

    • For development time schema upgrades where data loss is not an issue, you can just use execSQL("DROP TABLE IF EXISTS <tablename>") in to remove your existing tables and call onCreate() to recreate the database.

    • For released versions, you should implement data migration in onUpgrade() so your users don’t lose their data.


  • 2

    @Laalto //data migration in onUpgrade()// Can you please explain about this.

    – bCliks

    Sep 14, 2014 at 14:29

  • 2

    @bala Not in the scope of this question/answer. If you have a question, feel free to post it as a question.

    – laalto

    Sep 14, 2014 at 15:27

  • 2

    @Jaskey The version number is for your code i.e. what schema version the code expects to run against. If the file is older (from a previous version of your app), it needs to be upgraded.

    – laalto

    Oct 13, 2014 at 11:26

  • 4

    So, I need to hard code the DB VERSION in the SQLiteHelper each time I modify the schema, so that when the old app runs and get the db connection and find it is old, and then onUpgrade will be trgiigered instead of onCreate, is this right?

    – JaskeyLam

    Oct 13, 2014 at 11:30

  • 2

    Thank you ! This make sense to me. Please verify if I understand well.So we need to do 1. every time we update the schema, modify the DB_VERSION variable(hard code). 2. In onUpdate(), check every old version and do proper data migration . And then when a user update their app(they have old db files), onUpgrade will be Triggered, and if the user is newly install, onCreate() is triggered.

    – JaskeyLam

    Oct 13, 2014 at 11:56


To further add missing points here, as per the request by Jaskey

Database version is stored within the SQLite database file.

catch is the constructor

SQLiteOpenHelper(Context context, String name, SQLiteDatabase.CursorFactory factory, int version)

So when the database helper constructor is called with a name (2nd param), platform checks if the database exists or not and if the database exists, it gets the version information from the database file header and triggers the right call back

As already explained in the older answer, if the database with the name doesn’t exists, it triggers onCreate.

Below explanation explains onUpgrade case with an example.

Say, your first version of application had the DatabaseHelper (extending SQLiteOpenHelper) with constructor passing version as 1 and then you provided an upgraded application with the new source code having version passed as 2, then automatically when the DatabaseHelper is constructed, platform triggers onUpgrade by seeing the file already exists, but the version is lower than the current version which you have passed.

Now say you are planing to give a third version of application with db version as 3 (db version is increased only when database schema is to be modified). In such incremental upgrades, you have to write the upgrade logic from each version incrementally for a better maintainable code

Example pseudo code below:

public void onUpgrade(SQLiteDatabase db, int oldVersion, int newVersion) {
  switch(oldVersion) {
    case 1:
       //upgrade logic from version 1 to 2
    case 2:
       //upgrade logic from version 2 to 3
    case 3:
       //upgrade logic from version 3 to 4
       throw new IllegalStateException(
                "onUpgrade() with unknown oldVersion " + oldVersion);

Notice the missing break statement in case 1 and 2. This is what I mean by incremental upgrade.

Say if the old version is 2 and new version is 4, then the logic will upgrade the database from 2 to 3 and then to 4

If old version is 3 and new version is 4, it will just run the upgrade logic for 3 to 4


  • 2

    I think you want your switch(newVersion) to be switch(oldVersion) instead. You may also want to verify that newVersion is 4 (and not 5, or 3; because your logic is assuming the new version should be 4).As it is, if the old version is 2 and new version is 5, you’ll hit the case 4: and upgrade from 3 to 4 (which should probably not be expected behavior).

    – joe p

    Nov 14, 2014 at 18:19

  • right – typo.. but if new version is 5 -> then it will always throw IllegalStateException and developer will be fixing it by adding case 5..

    – Aun

    Nov 14, 2014 at 18:52

  • 1

    What if the user upgrades his app from version 2 to 3 only? In that case also, all the cases upto case 4 will run.

    Feb 5, 2015 at 9:41

  • 7

    @param user cannot do that. He can upgrade 2 to latest (here 4) only.

    Feb 19, 2015 at 12:06



  1. When we create DataBase at a first time (i.e Database is not exists) onCreate() create database with version which is passed in
    SQLiteOpenHelper(Context context, String name, SQLiteDatabase.CursorFactory factory, int version)

  2. onCreate() method is creating the tables you’ve defined and executing any other code you’ve written. However, this method will only be called if the SQLite file is missing in your app’s data directory (/data/data/your.apps.classpath/databases).

  3. This method will not be called if you’ve changed your code and relaunched in the emulator. If you want onCreate() to run you need to use adb to delete the SQLite database file.


  1. SQLiteOpenHelper should call the super constructor.
  2. The onUpgrade() method will only be called when the version integer is larger than the current version running in the app.
  3. If you want the onUpgrade() method to be called, you need to increment the version number in your code.


  • 1

    Could you please elaborate more your answer adding a little more description about the solution you provide?

    – abarisone

    Jun 16, 2015 at 13:35