Sunday, 13 March 2011

Importing data into SQL Server from a text file using BULK INSERT

As a .Net / SQL Server developer it is often necessary to import data in to your databases from other sources, such as text files. Ideally you would leave this type of data manipulation activity to the kind of weirdos who enjoy it (DBAs). Sadly however this is not always possible.

Therefore, in the old days of SQL Server 2000 I often created DTS packages to suck in my data. DTS was OK, especially the funky grey arrows, but it was a little time consuming. Then - disaster - DTS was phased out in favour of SSIS. At No Frills Corp our DBAs have not been able to give me a server that SSIS actually works on, so I was a bit stuck.

It was then that I came across the beatifully simple SQL command, BULK INSERT.

Just point a BULK INSERT command at your text file, tell it where to put the data, and you are all set. It can't be that easy can it? Yes, it really can:

   FROM 'D:\primates\chimps.csv'
         FIELDTERMINATOR =',',
         ROWTERMINATOR ='\n'

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