How to resolve ORA-01441 Error Message in Oracle database

Learn the reason and how to get to the bottom of the ORA-01441 error message in Oracle.


When you come upon an ORA-01441 error, the following error message will appear:

ORA-01441: column to be modified should be empty to minimize column size


You tried to execute a ALTER TABLE MODIFY assertion on a persona column to decrease its size, but the column contained data. You can only regulate the personality column whose values are all NULL.


The option(s) to resolve this Oracle error are:

Option #1

Execute an UPDATE assertion to change all values in that column to NULL.

Option #2

Execute a DELETE assertion to do away with all rows from the table.

For example, if you had a table referred to as suppliers defined as follows:

CREATE TABLE suppliers
( supplier_id number(5),
  supplier_name char(100)

Then executed an INSERT statement as follows:

INSERT into suppliers
(supplier_id, supplier_name)
VALUES (12345, 'IBM');

And you tried to execute the following ALTER TABLE statement:

ALTER TABLE suppliers
 MODIFY supplier_name char(75);

You would receive the following error message:

You ought to right the error with either of the following solutions:

Solution #1

You can replace the supplier_name column to all NULLs. This only works if the supplier_name discipline will be given NULL values.

UPDATE suppliers
SET supplier_name = NULL;

Solution #2

You can remove all entries from the suppliers table.

DELETE FROM suppliers;

If you do figure out to delete all entries from your suppliers table, you might choose to make sure that you have a backup of the data.