Adventures in Machine Learning

Removing Triggers in SQL Server: Syntax and Best Practices

Triggers are powerful tools in SQL Server that enable developers to automate tasks when certain events occur. While they are incredibly useful, there may be occasions when one wants to remove the triggers from their database.

In this article, we will explore different aspects of removing triggers, including the syntax for dropping different types of triggers, how to remove multiple triggers at once, and what happens to triggers when we drop a table.

Syntax for Dropping DML Triggers

DML (Data Modification Language) triggers are used to enforce business rules or validate data changes. These triggers fire when users perform data manipulation operations such as INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE.

Dropping a trigger removes it from the database, and the trigger won’t fire on subsequent DML operations. The syntax for dropping a DML trigger is as follows:

DROP TRIGGER [schema_name.]trigger_name;

The schema_name is optional, and if not specified, SQL Server assumes the default schema of the user who is executing the query.

The trigger_name is the name of the trigger that you want to remove.

Syntax for Dropping DDL and Logon Event Triggers

DDL Triggers

DDL (Data Definition Language) triggers fire when users perform schema changes such as CREATE, ALTER, or DROP. These triggers are useful for auditing schema changes or enforcing naming conventions.

To remove a DDL trigger, the syntax is identical to removing a DML trigger:

DROP TRIGGER [schema_name.]trigger_name

The ON DATABASE clause is optional and used to specify whether the trigger is a database-level trigger or server-level trigger.

By default, a trigger is a database-level trigger.

Logon Triggers

Logon triggers fire when a user connects to the database, and they are used for auditing and restricting user access. To remove a logon trigger, the syntax is as follows:

DROP TRIGGER trigger_name 

Removing Multiple Triggers at Once

If you have multiple triggers that you want to delete, you don’t have to run the DROP TRIGGER command for each trigger. Instead, you can use the DROP TRIGGER statement with a comma-separated list of trigger names to delete them all at once.

For example:

DROP TRIGGER [schema_name.]trigger1, [schema_name.]trigger2, [schema_name.]trigger3;

Automatic Removal of Triggers When Dropping a Table

When you drop a table, all associated triggers are removed automatically. This behavior is called cascading drop.

SQL Server will automatically look for and delete all table-level triggers associated with the table you are going to delete. Note that only table-level triggers are removed during cascading drop; triggers that belong to another object, such as a view or a stored procedure, must be removed manually.


Triggers are incredibly useful in SQL Server, but there may be circumstances when you need to remove one or more triggers from your database. The syntax for dropping triggers differs depending on the type of trigger (DML, DDL, or logon event), and you can remove multiple triggers at once by specifying comma-separated trigger names.

Additionally, if you drop a table, its associated triggers are removed by SQL Server automatically. With this knowledge, developers can streamline their database maintenance and effectively manage their triggers in SQL Server.

Triggers come in handy when working with SQL Server databases. The triggers’ automatic nature helps reduce the number of human interventions in the database, hence promoting integrity and minimizing errors.

However, at some point, you may need to remove or delete a SQL Server trigger. In this article, we will explore examples of how to use the SQL Server DROP TRIGGER statement to remove a DML trigger and a DDL trigger.

Removing a DML Trigger

Data Manipulation Language (DML) triggers capture data modification events that occur on a table that has the trigger defined. These triggers will fire automatically every time these data modification events take place.

Some of these events include INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE queries. The triggers can help enforce business rules or validate data changes.

To remove a DML trigger, you use the DROP TRIGGER statement followed by the Schema name, trigger name, and table that trigger is associated with. It is important to note that the DROP TRIGGER statement does not remove the underlying table from the database.

Suppose we have a trigger named “trg_employees_bi” defined on the [Employees] table within the [HumanResources] schema, and we want to remove the trigger. The query for removing the DML trigger would look as follows:

USE [AdventureWorks2019];


DROP TRIGGER [HumanResources].[trg_employees_bi] ON [HumanResources].[Employee];

The above query will remove the DML trigger associated with the [Employees] table within the [HumanResources] schema. To confirm that the trigger has been successfully removed, you can query the sys.triggers catalog view using the following query:

USE [AdventureWorks2019];


SELECT * FROM sys.triggers WHERE name = 'trg_employees_bi';

When you execute the query before and after removing the trigger, you will notice that the result set is empty after removing the trigger. Therefore, it is vital to double-check that the trigger has been deleted, as described above.

Removing a DDL Trigger

Data Definition Language (DDL) triggers execute automatically in response to particular system-level events such as CREATE, ALTER, or DROP statements on the server, database, or objects within. These triggers are useful for monitoring events that may have a significant impact on the database.

Every time a DDL Trigger fires, a new transaction is started. Suppose we have a DDL trigger named “trg_ddl_audit” defined at the server level, and we want to remove the DDL trigger.

The query required to remove the DDL trigger would look as follows:

USE [Master];



The above query will remove the DDL trigger defined at the server level. After successful execution of the query, it is best to check whether the trigger has been removed by executing this query:

USE [Master];


SELECT * FROM sys.server_triggers WHERE name = 'trg_ddl_audit';

The query will help confirm that the trigger has been removed.

Complications With Removing a Trigger

It is important to note that some circumstances may complicate the removal of triggers using the DROP TRIGGER statement. Suppose changing the object specification, the trigger specification, or the database state.

In that case, system-level locks might prevent the DROP TRIGGER statement execution, leaving the trigger still active in the database. In such cases, Notification Services Events will capture and log the occurrence of such events.

In other cases, you may receive an error message when attempting to remove a trigger. Among the reasons that could cause such an error include database constraints, dependency on other objects such as views or procedures, and permission restrictions.

You will need to investigate and address such challenges to remove the trigger successfully.


Triggers are a critical component of SQL Server database management, but there may come a time when you need to remove them. The DROP TRIGGER statement simplifies the process of removing a trigger.

Whether removing DML triggers for data manipulation events or DDL triggers for system-level events, the commands are easy to execute. Developers, DBAs, and system administrators should, however, be aware of potential complications when using the DROP TRIGGER statements and ensure the removal is complete.

Removing SQL Server triggers is a crucial aspect of maintaining database performance and functionality. The DROP TRIGGER statement is the tool used to effectively remove triggers from a database.

To remove a DML trigger, you use the DROP TRIGGER statement followed by the schema, trigger name, and table associated with the trigger. Removing DDL triggers uses the same principle, targeting server-level triggers.

Although some complications may arise when removing triggers, all potential issues can be resolved, ensuring complete removal. Overall, developers, DBAs, and system administrators should understand the importance of using the DROP TRIGGER statement to ensure effective trigger removal, and the steps and syntax required to make the process smooth and error-free.

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