Top 15 Terraform State file Interview Questions and Answers

In this article, we explore crucial Terraform State file Interview Questions and answers, delving into key aspects of managing infrastructure state in Terraform. From state file basics to advanced concepts, these questions aim to evaluate your proficiency in orchestrating infrastructure as code.

Terraform State file Interview Questions and Answers

What is Terraform state?

Terraform state is a crucial component that keeps track of the resources created by Terraform and their current state. It’s a representation of your infrastructure stored in a file, typically named terraform.tfstate.

Why is state important in Terraform?

Terraform uses state to map real-world resources to your configuration, track changes over time, and plan and apply updates without recreating every resource.

How does Terraform store state?

Terraform can store state locally or remotely. Local state is stored in a file named terraform.tfstate, while remote state can be stored in a backend like Amazon S3, Azure Storage, or HashiCorp Consul.

What is difference between current and desired state?

AspectCurrent StateDesired State
DefinitionCurrent configuration and statusIntended or declared configuration
Managed byActively managed by infrastructure toolUser-managed through code
FocusReflects existing realitySpecifies how infrastructure should be
ModificationChanges dynamically as resources are updatedModified through code updates
ComparisonBaseline for planning and applying changesTarget for infrastructure modifications during updates
PurposeMonitors and reflects the current state of resourcesDefines the end goal and desired configuration of resources

What is the purpose of a Terraform backend?

A Terraform backend is responsible for storing and retrieving the Terraform state. It allows for remote collaboration, state locking to prevent concurrent modifications, and secure storage of sensitive information.

What is state locking, and why is it important?

State locking prevents concurrent modifications to the Terraform state by multiple users. It ensures that only one user can apply changes at a time, preventing conflicts and potential data corruption.

How can you move from local state to remote state?

You can use the terraform state mv command to move resources from local to remote state. Additionally, you need to configure a backend to store the state remotely.

What is the purpose of the terraform refresh command?

The terraform refresh command is used to reconcile the Terraform state with the real-world infrastructure. It queries the current state of the resources and updates the state file.

Explain the significance of the -target flag in Terraform commands.

The -target flag allows you to limit Terraform operations to a specific resource or module. It is useful when you want to apply changes only to a subset of your infrastructure.

How does Terraform handle sensitive data in the state file?

Terraform provides the option to mark certain resource attributes as sensitive. These sensitive values are redacted in the console output and, when stored remotely, are encrypted for added security.

What is the purpose of the terraform import command?

The terraform import command is used to bring existing resources under Terraform management. It associates an existing resource with a Terraform resource in your configuration.

What is the purpose of the terraform state command, and give an example of its usage.

The terraform state command provides various subcommands to inspect and manage the Terraform state. For example, terraform state list lists all resources in the state.

Explain the difference between terraform apply and terraform destroy in terms of state management.

Featureterraform applyterraform destroy
PurposeCreates or updates infrastructureDestroys and removes infrastructure
OperationCreates, updates, or recreates resources based on configurationDestroys all resources managed by Terraform, updating state accordingly
State ChangesModifies the Terraform state to reflect the desired stateUpdates the state to mark resources as destroyed
ImpactMay create, update, or recreate resources without destroying othersDestroys all managed resources, leading to potential data loss
Use CaseRegularly used for initial provisioning and subsequent updatesTypically used to decommission or remove an entire environment or project
Resource LockingMay lock individual resources during the apply processUses state locking to prevent concurrent modifications during destroy
Command Exampleterraform applyterraform destroy
InteractiveMay prompt for confirmation before applying changesTypically prompts for confirmation due to the destructive nature

How does Terraform handle the state of resources that are destroyed outside of Terraform?

If a resource is destroyed outside of Terraform, Terraform is unaware of the change. Running terraform refresh or other commands like terraform apply can help synchronize the state with the actual infrastructure.


In conclusion, a solid understanding of Terraform state is essential for effective infrastructure management. These interview questions cover a spectrum of topics, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of your expertise in leveraging Terraform for robust and scalable infrastructure deployments. Embrace these insights to excel in discussions about Terraform state in your interviews.


For reference visit the official website HashiCorp

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About Akash Bhujbal

Hey, I am Akash Bhujbal, I am an aspiring DevOps and Cloud enthusiast who is eager to embark on a journey into the world of DevOps and Cloud. With a strong passion for technology and a keen interest in DevOps and Cloud based solutions, I am driven to learn and contribute to the ever-evolving field of DevOps and Cloud.

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