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Bulk copy with bcp to SQL Server on Linux

    Let us see how to use the bcp command-line utility to bulk copy data between an instance of SQL Server on Linux and a data file in a user-specified format.

    You can use bcp to import large numbers of rows into SQL Server tables or to export data from SQL Server tables into data files. Except when used with the queryout option, bcp requires no knowledge of Transact-SQL. The bcp command-line utility works with Microsoft SQL Server running on-premises or in the cloud, on Linux, Windows or Docker and Azure SQL Database and Azure Synapse Analytics.

    This article shows you how to:

    • Import data into a table using the bcp in command
    • Export data from a table using the bcp out command

    Install the SQL Server command-line tools

    bcp is part of the SQL Server command-line tools, which are not installed automatically with SQL Server on Linux. If you have not already installed the SQL Server command-line tools on your Linux machine, you must install them. For more information on how to install the tools, for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

    Install tools on RHEL 8

    Use the following steps to install the mssql-tools on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

    1. Enter superuser mode.

    Bash

    sudo su

    • Download the Microsoft Red Hat repository configuration file.

    Bash

    curl https://packages.microsoft.com/config/rhel/8/prod.repo > /etc/yum.repos.d/msprod.repo

    • Exit superuser mode.

    Bash

    exit

    • If you had a previous version of mssql-tools installed, remove any older unixODBC packages.

    Bash

    sudo yum remove mssql-tools unixODBC-utf16-devel

    • Run the following commands to install mssql-tools with the unixODBC developer package.

    Bash

    sudo yum install mssql-tools unixODBC-devel

     Note

    To update to the latest version of mssql-tools run the following commands:

    Bash

    sudo yum check-update

    sudo yum update mssql-tools

    • Optional: Add /opt/mssql-tools/bin/ to your PATH environment variable in a bash shell.

    To make sqlcmd/bcp accessible from the bash shell for login sessions, modify your PATH in the ~/.bash_profile file with the following command:

    Bash

    echo ‘export PATH=”$PATH:/opt/mssql-tools/bin”‘ >> ~/.bash_profile

    To make sqlcmd/bcp accessible from the bash shell for interactive/non-login sessions, modify the PATH in the ~/.bashrc file with the following command:

    Bash

    echo ‘export PATH=”$PATH:/opt/mssql-tools/bin”‘ >> ~/.bashrc

    source ~/.bashrc

    Import data with bcp

    In this tutorial, you create a sample database and table on the local SQL Server instance (localhost) and then use bcp to load into the sample table from a text file on disk.

    Create a sample database and table

    Let’s start by creating a sample database with a simple table that is used in the rest of this tutorial.

    1. On your Linux box, open a command terminal.
    2. Copy and paste the following commands into the terminal window. These commands use the sqlcmd command-line utility to create a sample database (BcpSampleDB) and a table (TestEmployees) on the local SQL Server instance (localhost). Remember to replace the username and <your_password> as necessary before running the commands.

    Create the database BcpSampleDB:

    Bash

    sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P <your_password> -Q “CREATE DATABASE BcpSampleDB;”

    Create the table TestEmployees in the database BcpSampleDB:

    Bash

    sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P <your_password> -d BcpSampleDB -Q “CREATE TABLE TestEmployees (Id INT IDENTITY(1,1) NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY, Name NVARCHAR(50), Location NVARCHAR(50));”

    Create the source data file

    Copy and paste the following command into your terminal window. We use the built-in cat command to create a sample text data file with three records save the file in your home directory as ~/test_data.txt. The fields in the records are delimited by a comma.

    Bash

    cat > ~/test_data.txt << EOF

    1,Jared,Australia

    2,Nikita,India

    3,Tom,Germany

    EOF

    You can verify that the data file was created correctly by running the following command in your terminal window:

    Bash

    cat ~/test_data.txt

    This should display the following in your terminal window:

    Bash

    1,Jared,Australia

    2,Nikita,India

    3,Tom,Germany

    Import data from the source data file

    Copy and paste the following commands into the terminal window. This command uses bcp to connect to the local SQL Server instance (localhost) and import the data from the data file (~/test_data.txt) into the table (TestEmployees) in the database (BcpSampleDB). Remember to replace the username and <your_password> as necessary before running the commands.

    Bash

    bcp TestEmployees in ~/test_data.txt -S localhost -U sa -P <your_password> -d BcpSampleDB -c -t  ‘,’

    Here’s a brief overview of the command-line parameters we used with bcp in this example:

    • -S: specifies the instance of SQL Server to which to connect
    • -U: specifies the login ID used to connect to SQL Server
    • -P: specifies the password for the login ID
    • -d: specifies the database to connect to
    • -c: performs operations using a character data type
    • -t: specifies the field terminator. We are using comma as the field terminator for the records in our data file

    You can verify that the data was successfully imported by running the following command in your terminal window. Remember to replace the username and <your_password> as necessary before running the command.

    Bash

    sqlcmd -S localhost -d BcpSampleDB -U sa -P <your_password> -I -Q “SELECT * FROM TestEmployees;”

    This should display the following results:

    Bash

    Id          Name                Location

    ———– ——————- ——————-

              1 Jared               Australia

              2 Nikita              India

              3 Tom                 Germany

    (3 rows affected)

    Export data with bcp

    In this tutorial, you use bcp to export data from the sample table we created earlier to a new data file.

    Copy and paste the following commands into the terminal window. These commands use the bcp command-line utility to export data from the table TestEmployees in the database BcpSampleDB to a new data file called ~/test_export.txt. Remember to replace the username and <your_password> as necessary before running the command.

    Bash

    bcp TestEmployees out ~/test_export.txt -S localhost -U sa -P <your_password> -d BcpSampleDB -c -t ‘,’

    You can verify that the data was exported correctly by running the following command in your terminal window:

    Bash

    cat ~/test_export.txt

    This should display the following in your terminal window:

    1,Jared,Australia

    2,Nikita,India

    3,Tom,Germany

    bcp Utility

    The bulk copy program utility (bcp) bulk copies data between an instance of Microsoft SQL Server and a data file in a user-specified format. The bcp utility can be used to import large numbers of new rows into SQL Server tables or to export data out of tables into data files. Except when used with the queryout option, the utility requires no knowledge of Transact-SQL. To import data into a table, you must either use a format file created for that table or understand the structure of the table and the types of data that are valid for its columns.

    If you use bcp to back up your data, create a format file to record the data format. bcp data files do not include any schema or format information, so if a table or view is dropped and you do not have a format file, you may be unable to import the data.

    Download the latest version of bcp Utility

    The command-line tools are General Availability (GA), however they’re being released with the installer package for SQL Server 2019 (15.x).

    Version Information

    Release number: 15.0.2
    Build number: 15.0.2000.5
    Release date: September 11, 2020

    The new version of SQLCMD supports Azure AD authentication, including Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) support for SQL Database, Azure Synapse Analytics, and Always Encrypted features. The new BCP supports Azure AD authentication, including Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) support for SQL Database and Azure Synapse Analytics.

    System Requirements

    Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019

    This component requires both Windows Installer 4.5 and Microsoft ODBC Driver 17 for SQL Server.

    To check the BCP version execute bcp /v command and confirm that 15.0.2000.5 or higher is in use.

    SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
    Syntax
    bcp [database_name.] schema.{table_name | view_name | “query”}     {in data_file | out data_file | queryout data_file | format nul}                                                                                                              [-a packet_size]     [-b batch_size]     [-c]     [-C { ACP | OEM | RAW | code_page } ]     [-d database_name]     [-D]     [-e err_file]     [-E]     [-f format_file]     [-F first_row]     [-G Azure Active Directory Authentication]     [-h”hint [,…n]”]     [-i input_file]     [-k]     [-K application_intent]     [-l login_timeout]     [-L last_row]     [-m max_errors]     [-n]     [-N]     [-o output_file]     [-P password]     [-q]     [-r row_term]     [-R]     [-S [server_name[\instance_name]]     [-t field_term]     [-T]     [-U login_id]     [-v]     [-V (80 | 90 | 100 | 110 | 120 | 130 ) ]     [-w]     [-x]

    Arguments

    data_file
    Is the full path of the data file. When data is bulk imported into SQL Server, the data file contains the data to be copied into the specified table or view. When data is bulk exported from SQL Server, the data file contains the data copied from the table or view. The path can have from 1 through 255 characters. The data file can contain a maximum of 2^63 – 1 rows.

    database_name
    Is the name of the database in which the specified table or view resides. If not specified, this is the default database for the user.

    You can also explicitly specify the database name with -d.

    in data_file | out data_file | queryout data_file | format nul
    Specifies the direction of the bulk copy, as follows:

    • in copies from a file into the database table or view.
    • out copies from the database table or view to a file. If you specify an existing file, the file is overwritten. When extracting data, the bcp utility represents an empty string as a null and a null string as an empty string.
    • queryout copies from a query and must be specified only when bulk copying data from a query.
    • format creates a format file based on the option specified (-n-c-w, or -N) and the table or view delimiters. When bulk copying data, the bcp command can refer to a format file, which saves you from reentering format information interactively. The format option requires the -f option; creating an XML format file, also requires the -x option. For more information, see Create a Format File (SQL Server). You must specify nul as the value (format nul).

    owner
    Is the name of the owner of the table or view. owner is optional if the user performing the operation owns the specified table or view. If owner is not specified and the user performing the operation does not own the specified table or view, SQL Server returns an error message, and the operation is canceled.

    " query " Is a Transact-SQL query that returns a result set. If the query returns multiple result sets, only the first result set is copied to the data file; subsequent result sets are ignored. Use double quotation marks around the query and single quotation marks around anything embedded in the query. queryout must also be specified when bulk copying data from a query.

    The query can reference a stored procedure as long as all tables referenced inside the stored procedure exist prior to executing the bcp statement. For example, if the stored procedure generates a temp table, the bcp statement fails because the temp table is available only at run time and not at statement execution time. In this case, consider inserting the results of the stored procedure into a table and then use bcp to copy the data from the table into a data file.

    table_name
    Is the name of the destination table when importing data into SQL Server (in), and the source table when exporting data from SQL Server (out).

    view_name
    Is the name of the destination view when copying data into SQL Server (in), and the source view when copying data from SQL Server (out). Only views in which all columns refer to the same table can be used as destination views.

    -a packet_size
    Specifies the number of bytes, per network packet, sent to and from the server. A server configuration option can be set by using SQL Server Management Studio (or the sp_configure system stored procedure). However, the server configuration option can be overridden on an individual basis by using this option. packet_size can be from 4096 bytes to 65535 bytes; the default is 4096.

    Increased packet size can enhance performance of bulk-copy operations. If a larger packet is requested but cannot be granted, the default is used. The performance statistics generated by the bcp utility show the packet size used.

    -b batch_size
    Specifies the number of rows per batch of imported data. Each batch is imported and logged as a separate transaction that imports the whole batch before being committed. By default, all the rows in the data file are imported as one batch. To distribute the rows among multiple batches, specify a batch_size that is smaller than the number of rows in the data file. If the transaction for any batch fails, only insertions from the current batch are rolled back. Batches already imported by committed transactions are unaffected by a later failure.

    Do not use this option in conjunction with the -h "ROWS_PER_BATCH =bb" option.

    -c
    Performs the operation using a character data type. This option does not prompt for each field; it uses 
    char as the storage type, without prefixes and with \t (tab character) as the field separator and \r\n (newline character) as the row terminator. -c is not compatible with -w.

    -C { ACP | OEM | RAW | code_page }
    Specifies the code page of the data in the data file. code_page is relevant only if the data contains charvarchar, or text columns with character values greater than 127 or less than 32.

    Code page valueDescription
    ACPANSI/Microsoft Windows (ISO 1252).
    OEMDefault code page used by the client. This is the default code page used if -C is not specified.
    RAWNo conversion from one code page to another occurs. This is the fastest option because no conversion occurs.
    code_pageSpecific code page number; for example, 850.

    Versions prior to version 13 (SQL Server 2016 (13.x)) do not support code page 65001 (UTF-8 encoding). Versions beginning with 13 can import UTF-8 encoding to earlier versions of SQL Server.

    -d database_name
    Specifies the database to connect to. By default, bcp.exe connects to the user’s default database. If -d database_name and a three part name (database_name.schema.table, passed as the first parameter to bcp.exe) are specified, an error will occur because you cannot specify the database name twice. If database_name begins with a hyphen (-) or a forward slash (/), do not add a space between 
    -d and the database name.

    -D
    Causes the value passed to the bcp -S option to be interpreted as a data source name (DSN). A DSN may be used to embed driver options to simplify command lines, enforce driver options that are not otherwise accessible from the command line such as MultiSubnetFailover, or to help protect sensitive credentials from being discoverable as command line arguments.

    -e err_file
    Specifies the full path of an error file used to store any rows that the 
    bcp utility cannot transfer from the file to the database. Error messages from the bcp command go to the workstation of the user. If this option is not used, an error file is not created.

    If err_file begins with a hyphen (-) or a forward slash (/), do not include a space between -e and the err_file value.

    -E

    Specifies that identity value or values in the imported data file are to be used for the identity column. If -E is not given, the identity values for this column in the data file being imported are ignored, and SQL Server automatically assigns unique values based on the seed and increment values specified during table creation.

    If the data file does not contain values for the identity column in the table or view, use a format file to specify that the identity column in the table or view should be skipped when importing data; SQL Server automatically assigns unique values for the column.

    The -E option has a special permissions requirement.

    -f format_file
    Specifies the full path of a format file. The meaning of this option depends on the environment in which it is used, as follows:

    • -f is used with the format option, the specified format_file is created for the specified table or view. To create an XML format file, also specify the -x option.
    • in or out option, -f requires an existing format file.

    If format_file begins with a hyphen (-) or a forward slash (/), do not include a space between -f and the format_file value.

    -F first_row
    Specifies the number of the first row to export from a table or import from a data file. This parameter requires a value greater than (>) 0 but less than (<) or equal to (=) the total number rows. In the absence of this parameter, the default is the first row of the file.

    first_row can be a positive integer with a value up to 2^63-1. -F first_row is 1-based.

    -G

    This switch is used by the client when connecting to Azure SQL Database or Azure Synapse Analytics to specify that the user be authenticated using Azure Active Directory authentication. The -G switch requires version 14.0.3008.27 or later. To determine your version, execute bcp -v.

     Important

    The -G option only applies to Azure SQL Database and Azure Data Warehouse. AAD Integrated and Interactive Authentication is not currently supported on Linux or macOS.

     Tip

    To check if your version of bcp includes support for Azure Active Directory Authentication (AAD) type bcp -- (bcp<space><dash><dash>) and verify that you see -G in the list of available arguments.

    • Azure Active Directory Username and Password:

    When you want to use an Azure Active Directory user name and password, you can provide the -G option and also use the user name and password by providing the -U and -P options.

    The following example exports data using Azure AD Username and Password where user and password is an AAD credential. The example exports table bcptest from database testdb from Azure server aadserver.database.windows.net and stores the data in file c:\last\data1.dat:

    cmd

    bcp bcptest out “c:\last\data1.dat” -c -t -S aadserver.database.windows.net -d testdb -G -U [email protected] -P xxxxx

    The following example imports data using Azure AD Username and Password where user and password is an AAD credential. The example imports data from file c:\last\data1.dat into table bcptest for database testdb on Azure server aadserver.database.windows.net using Azure AD User/Password:

    cmd

    bcp bcptest in “c:\last\data1.dat” -c -t -S aadserver.database.windows.net -d testdb -G -U [email protected] -P xxxxx

    • Azure Active Directory Integrated

    For Azure Active Directory Integrated authentication, provide the -G option without a user name or password. This configuration assumes that the current Windows user account (the account the bcp command is running under) is federated with Azure AD:

    The following example exports data using Azure AD-Integrated account. The example exports table bcptest from database testdb using Azure AD Integrated from Azure server aadserver.database.windows.net and stores the data in file c:\last\data2.dat:

    cmd

    bcp bcptest out “c:\last\data2.dat” -S aadserver.database.windows.net -d testdb -G -c -t

    The following example imports data using Azure AD-Integrated auth. The example imports data from file c:\last\data2.txt into table bcptest for database testdb on Azure server aadserver.database.windows.net using Azure AD Integrated auth:

    cmd

    bcp bcptest in “c:\last\data2.dat” -S aadserver.database.windows.net -d testdb -G -c -t

    • Azure Active Directory Interactive

    The Azure AD Interactive authentication for Azure SQL Database and Azure Synapse Analytics, allows you to use an interactive method supporting multi-factor authentication.

    To enable interactive authentication, provide -G option with user name (-U) only, without a password.

    The following example exports data using Azure AD interactive mode indicating username where user represents an AAD account. This is the same example used in the previous section: Azure Active Directory Username and Password.

    Interactive mode requires a password to be manually entered, or for accounts with multi-factor authentication enabled, complete your configured MFA authentication method.

    cmd

    bcp bcptest out “c:\last\data1.dat” -c -t -S aadserver.database.windows.net -d testdb -G -U [email protected]

    In case an Azure AD user is a domain federated one using Windows account, the user name required in the command line, contains its domain account (for example, [email protected] see below):

    cmd

    bcp bcptest out “c:\last\data1.dat” -c -t -S aadserver.database.windows.net -d testdb -G -U [email protected]

    If guest users exist in a specific Azure AD and are part of a group that exists in SQL Database that has database permissions to execute the bcp command, their guest user alias is used (for example, *[email protected]*).

    -h "load hints[ ,… n]" Specifies the hint or hints to be used during a bulk import of data into a table or view.

    • ORDER(column[ASC | DESC] [,...n])
      The sort order of the data in the data file. Bulk import performance is improved if the data being imported is sorted according to the clustered index on the table, if any. If the data file is sorted in a different order, that is other than the order of a clustered index key, or if there is no clustered index on the table, the ORDER clause is ignored. The column names supplied must be valid column names in the destination table. By default, bcp assumes the data file is unordered. For optimized bulk import, SQL Server also validates that the imported data is sorted.
    • ROWS_PER_BATCH = bb
      Number of rows of data per batch (as bb). Used when -b is not specified, resulting in the entire data file being sent to the server as a single transaction. The server optimizes the bulkload according to the value bb. By default, ROWS_PER_BATCH is unknown.
    • KILOBYTES_PER_BATCH = cc
      Approximate number of kilobytes of data per batch (as cc). By default, KILOBYTES_PER_BATCH is unknown.
    • TABLOCK
      Specifies that a bulk update table-level lock is acquired for the duration of the bulkload operation; otherwise, a row-level lock is acquired. This hint significantly improves performance because holding a lock for the duration of the bulk-copy operation reduces lock contention on the table. A table can be loaded concurrently by multiple clients if the table has no indexes and TABLOCK is specified. By default, locking behavior is determined by the table option table lock on bulkload.

     CHECK_CONSTRAINTS
    Specifies that all constraints on the target table or view must be checked during the bulk-import operation. Without the CHECK_CONSTRAINTS hint, any CHECK, and FOREIGN KEY constraints are ignored, and after the operation the constraint on the table is marked as not-trusted.

    At some point, you will need to check the constraints on the entire table. If the table was nonempty before the bulk import operation, the cost of revalidating the constraint may exceed the cost of applying CHECK constraints to the incremental data. Therefore, we recommend that normally you enable constraint checking during an incremental bulk import.

    A situation in which you might want constraints disabled (the default behavior) is if the input data contains rows that violate constraints. With CHECK constraints disabled, you can import the data and then use Transact-SQL statements to remove data that is not valid.

    • FIRE_TRIGGERS
      Specified with the in argument, any insert triggers defined on the destination table will run during the bulk-copy operation. If FIRE_TRIGGERS is not specified, no insert triggers will run. FIRE_TRIGGERS is ignored for the outqueryout, and format arguments.

    -i input_file
    Specifies the name of a response file, containing the responses to the command prompt questions for each data field when a bulk copy is being performed using interactive mode (-n-c-w, or -N not specified).

    If input_file begins with a hyphen (-) or a forward slash (/), do not include a space between -i and the input_file value.

    -k
    Specifies that empty columns should retain a null value during the operation, rather than have any default values for the columns inserted.

    -K application_intent
    Declares the application workload type when connecting to a server. The only value that is possible is ReadOnly. If -K is not specified, the bcp utility will not support connectivity to a secondary replica in an Always On availability group.

    -l login_timeout
    Specifies a login timeout. The -l option specifies the number of seconds before a login to SQL Server times out when you try to connect to a server. The default login timeout is 15 seconds. The login timeout must be a number between 0 and 65534. If the value supplied is not numeric or does not fall into that range, bcp generates an error message. A value of 0 specifies an infinite timeout.

    -L last_row
    Specifies the number of the last row to export from a table or import from a data file. This parameter requires a value greater than (>) 0 but less than (<) or equal to (=) the number of the last row. In the absence of this parameter, the default is the last row of the file.

    last_row can be a positive integer with a value up to 2^63-1.

    -m max_errors
    Specifies the maximum number of syntax errors that can occur before the bcp operation is canceled. A syntax error implies a data conversion error to the target data type. The max_errors total excludes any errors that can be detected only at the server, such as constraint violations.

    A row that cannot be copied by the bcp utility is ignored and is counted as one error. If this option is not included, the default is 10.

    -n
    Performs the bulk-copy operation using the native (database) data types of the data. This option does not prompt for each field; it uses the native values.

    -N
    Performs the bulk-copy operation using the native (database) data types of the data for noncharacter data, and Unicode characters for character data. This option offers a higher performance alternative to the -w option, and is intended for transferring data from one instance of SQL Server to another using a data file. It does not prompt for each field. Use this option when you are transferring data that contains ANSI extended characters and you want to take advantage of the performance of native mode.

    If you export and then import data to the same table schema by using bcp.exe with -N, you might see a truncation warning if there is a fixed length, non-Unicode character column (for example, char(10)).

    The warning can be ignored. One way to resolve this warning is to use -n instead of -N.

    -o output_file
    Specifies the name of a file that receives output redirected from the command prompt.

    If output_file begins with a hyphen (-) or a forward slash (/), do not include a space between -o and the output_file value.

    -P password
    Specifies the password for the login ID. If this option is not used, the bcp command prompts for a password. If this option is used at the end of the command prompt without a password, bcp uses the default password (NULL).

     Important

    Do not use a blank password. Use a strong password.

    To mask your password, do not specify the -P option along with the -U option. Instead, after specifying bcp along with the -U option and other switches (do not specify -P), press ENTER, and the command will prompt you for a password. This method ensures that your password will be masked when it is entered.

    If password begins with a hyphen (-) or a forward slash (/), do not add a space between -P and the password value.

    -q
    Executes the SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIERS ON statement in the connection between the bcp utility and an instance of SQL Server. Use this option to specify a database, owner, table, or view name that contains a space or a single quotation mark. Enclose the entire three-part table or view name in quotation marks (“”).

    To specify a database name that contains a space or single quotation mark, you must use the -q option.

    -q does not apply to values passed to -d.

    -r row_term
    Specifies the row terminator. The default is 
    \n (newline character). Use this parameter to override the default row terminator.

    If you specify the row terminator in hexadecimal notation in a bcp.exe command, the value will be truncated at 0x00. For example, if you specify 0x410041, 0x41 will be used.

    If row_term begins with a hyphen (-) or a forward slash (/), do not include a space between -r and the row_term value.

    -R
    Specifies that currency, date, and time data is bulk copied into SQL Server using the regional format defined for the locale setting of the client computer. By default, regional settings are ignored.

    -S server_name [\instance_name] Specifies the instance of SQL Server to which to connect. If no server is specified, the bcp utility connects to the default instance of SQL Server on the local computer. This option is required when a bcp command is run from a remote computer on the network or a local named instance. To connect to the default instance of SQL Server on a server, specify only server_name. To connect to a named instance of SQL Server, specify server_name\instance_name.

    -t field_term
    Specifies the field terminator. The default is 
    \t (tab character). Use this parameter to override the default field terminator.

    If you specify the field terminator in hexadecimal notation in a bcp.exe command, the value will be truncated at 0x00. For example, if you specify 0x410041, 0x41 will be used.

    If field_term begins with a hyphen (-) or a forward slash (/), do not include a space between -t and the field_term value.

    -T
    Specifies that the bcp utility connects to SQL Server with a trusted connection using integrated security. The security credentials of the network user, login_id, and password are not required. If -T is not specified, you need to specify -U and -P to successfully log in.

     Important

    When the bcp utility is connecting to SQL Server with a trusted connection using integrated security, use the -T option (trusted connection) instead of the user name and password combination. When the bcp utility is connecting to SQL Database or Azure Synapse Analytics, using Windows authentication or Azure Active Directory authentication is not supported. Use the -U and -P options.

    -U login_id
    Specifies the login ID used to connect to SQL Server.

     Important

    When the bcp utility is connecting to SQL Server with a trusted connection using integrated security, use the -T option (trusted connection) instead of the user name and password combination. When the bcp utility is connecting to SQL Database or Azure Synapse Analytics, using Windows authentication or Azure Active Directory authentication is not supported. Use the -U and -P options.

    -v
    Reports the 
    bcp utility version number and copyright.

    -V (80 | 90 | 100 | 110 | 120 | 130)
    Performs the bulk-copy operation using data types from an earlier version of SQL Server. This option does not prompt for each field; it uses the default values.

    80 = SQL Server 2000 (8.x)

    90 = SQL Server 2005 (9.x)

    100 = SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2

    110 = SQL Server 2012 (11.x)

    120 = SQL Server 2014 (12.x)

    130 = SQL Server 2016 (13.x)

    For example, to generate data for types not supported by SQL Server 2000 (8.x), but were introduced in later versions of SQL Server, use the -V80 option.

    -w
    Performs the bulk copy operation using Unicode characters. This option does not prompt for each field; it uses nchar as the storage type, no prefixes, \t (tab character) as the field separator, and \n (newline character) as the row terminator. -w is not compatible with -c.

    -x
    Used with the format and -f format_file options, generates an XML-based format file instead of the default non-XML format file. The -x does not work when importing or exporting data. It generates an error if used without both format and -f format_file.

    • The bcp 13.0 client is installed when you install MicrosoftSQL Server 2019 (15.x) tools. If tools are installed for both SQL Server 2019 (15.x) and an earlier version of SQL Server, depending on the order of values of the PATH environment variable, you might be using the earlier bcp client instead of the bcp 13.0 client. This environment variable defines the set of directories used by Windows to search for executable files. To discover which version you are using, run the bcp /v or bcp -v command at the Windows Command Prompt.

    To make sure the newest version of the bcp utility is running you need to remove any older versions of the bcp utility.

    To determine where all versions of the bcp utility are installed, type in the command prompt:

    cmd

    where bcp.exe

    The characters <, >, |, &, ^ are special command shell characters, and they must be preceded by the escape character (^) or enclosed in quotation marks when used in String (for example, “StringContaining&Symbol”). If you use quotation marks to enclose a string that contains one of the special characters, the quotation marks are set as part of the environment variable value.

    Native Data File Support

    In SQL Server 2019 (15.x), the bcp utility supports native data files compatible with SQL Server 2000 (8.x), SQL Server 2005 (9.x), SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 R2, and SQL Server 2012 (11.x).

    Computed Columns and timestamp Columns

    Values in the data file being imported for computed or timestamp columns are ignored, and SQL Server automatically assigns values. If the data file does not contain values for the computed or timestamp columns in the table, use a format file to specify that the computed or timestamp columns in the table should be skipped when importing data; SQL Server automatically assigns values for the column.

    Computed and timestamp columns are bulk copied from SQL Server to a data file as usual.

    Specifying Identifiers That Contain Spaces or Quotation Marks

    SQL Server identifiers can include characters such as embedded spaces and quotation marks. Such identifiers must be treated as follows:

    • When you specify an identifier or file name that includes a space or quotation mark at the command prompt, enclose the identifier in quotation marks (“”).

    For example, the following bcp out command creates a data file named Currency Types.dat:

    cmd

    bcp AdventureWorks2012.Sales.Currency out “Currency Types.dat” -T -c 

    • To specify a database name that contains a space or quotation mark, you must use the -q option.
    • For owner, table, or view names that contain embedded spaces or quotation marks, you can either:
      • Specify the -q option, or
      • Enclose the owner, table, or view name in brackets ([]) inside the quotation marks.

    Data Validation

    bcp now enforces data validation and data checks that might cause scripts to fail if they’re executed on invalid data in a data file. For example, bcp now verifies that:

    • The native representations of float or real data types are valid.
    • Unicode data has an even-byte length.

    Forms of invalid data that could be bulk imported in earlier versions of SQL Server might fail to load now; whereas, in earlier versions, the failure did not occur until a client tried to access the invalid data. The added validation minimizes surprises when querying the data after bulkload.

    Bulk Exporting or Importing SQLXML Documents

    To bulk export or import SQLXML data, use one of the following data types in your format file.

    BULK EXPORTING OR IMPORTING SQLXML DOCUMENTS
    Data typeEffect
    SQLCHAR or SQLVARYCHARThe data is sent in the client code page or in the code page implied by the collation). The effect is the same as specifying the -c switch without specifying a format file.
    SQLNCHAR or SQLNVARCHARThe data is sent as Unicode. The effect is the same as specifying the -w switch without specifying a format file.
    SQLBINARY or SQLVARYBINThe data is sent without any conversion.

    Permissions

    bcp out operation requires SELECT permission on the source table.

    bcp in operation minimally requires SELECT/INSERT permissions on the target table. In addition, ALTER TABLE permission is required if any of the following is true:

    • Constraints exist and the CHECK_CONSTRAINTS hint is not specified.
    • Triggers exist and the FIRE_TRIGGER hint is not specified.
    • You use the -E option to import identity values from a data file.

    Character Mode (-c) and Native Mode (-n) Best Practices

    This section has recommendations for to character mode (-c) and native mode (-n).

    • (Administrator/User) When possible, use native format (-n) to avoid the separator issue. Use the native format to export and import using SQL Server. Export data from SQL Server using the -c or -w option if the data will be imported to a non-SQL Server database.
    • (Administrator) Verify data when using BCP OUT. For example, when you use BCP OUT, BCP IN, and then BCP OUT verify that the data is properly exported and the terminator values are not used as part of some data value. Consider overriding the default terminators (using -t and -r options) with random hexadecimal values to avoid conflicts between terminator values and data values.
    • (User) Use a long and unique terminator (any sequence of bytes or characters) to minimize the possibility of a conflict with the actual string value. This can be done by using the -t and -r options.

    This section contains the following examples:

    A. Identify bcp utility version

    B. Copying table rows into a data file (with a trusted connection)

    C. Copying table rows into a data file (with Mixed-mode Authentication)

    D. Copying data from a file to a table

    E. Copying a specific column into a data file

    F. Copying a specific row into a data file

    G. Copying data from a query to a data file

    H. Creating format files

    I. Using a format file to bulk import with bcp

    J. Specifying a code page

    Example Test Conditions

    The examples below make use of the WideWorldImporters sample database for SQL Server (starting 2016) and Azure SQL Database. WideWorldImporters can be downloaded from https://github.com/Microsoft/sql-server-samples/releases/tag/wide-world-importers-v1.0. The examples assume that you are using Windows Authentication and have a trusted connection to the server instance on which you are running the bcp command. A directory named D:\BCP will be used in many of the examples.

    The script below creates an empty copy of the WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions table and then adds a primary key constraint. Run the following T-SQL script in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)

    SQL

    USE WideWorldImporters; 

    GO 

    SET NOCOUNT ON;

    IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.tables WHERE name = ‘Warehouse.StockItemTransactions_bcp’)

    BEGIN

        SELECT * INTO WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions_bcp

        FROM WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions 

        WHERE 1 = 2; 

        ALTER TABLE Warehouse.StockItemTransactions_bcp

        ADD CONSTRAINT PK_Warehouse_StockItemTransactions_bcp PRIMARY KEY NONCLUSTERED

        (StockItemTransactionID ASC);

    END

    TRUNCATE TABLE WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions_bcp;

    A. Identify bcp utility version

    At a command prompt, enter the following command:

    cmd

    bcp –v

    B. Copying table rows into a data file (with a trusted connection)

    The following examples illustrate the out option on the WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions table.

    • Basic This example creates a data file named StockItemTransactions_character.bcp and copies the table data into it using character format.

    At a command prompt, enter the following command:

    cmd

    bcp WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions out D:\BCP\StockItemTransactions_character.bcp -c -T

    • Expanded This example creates a data file named StockItemTransactions_native.bcp and copies the table data into it using the native format. The example also: specifies the maximum number of syntax errors, an error file, and an output file.

    At a command prompt, enter the following command:

    cmd

    bcp WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions OUT D:\BCP\StockItemTransactions_native.bcp -m 1 -n -e D:\BCP\Error_out.log -o D:\BCP\Output_out.log -S -T

    Review Error_out.log and Output_out.log. Error_out.log should be blank. Compare the file sizes between StockItemTransactions_character.bcp and StockItemTransactions_native.bcp.

    C. Copying table rows into a data file (with mixed-mode authentication)

    The following example illustrates the out option on the WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions table. This example creates a data file named StockItemTransactions_character.bcp and copies the table data into it using character format.

    The example assumes that you are using mixed-mode authentication, you must use the -U switch to specify your login ID. Also, unless you are connecting to the default instance of SQL Server on the local computer, use the -S switch to specify the system name and, optionally, an instance name.

    At a command prompt, enter the following command: (The system will prompt you for your password.)

    cmd

    bcp WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions out D:\BCP\StockItemTransactions_character.bcp -c -U<login_id> -S<server_name\instance_name>

    D. Copying data from a file to a table

    The following examples illustrate the in option on the WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions_bcp table using files created above.

    • Basic This example uses the StockItemTransactions_character.bcp data file previously created.

    At a command prompt, enter the following command:

    cmdCopy

    bcp WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions_bcp IN D:\BCP\StockItemTransactions_character.bcp -c -T

    • Expanded This example uses the StockItemTransactions_native.bcp data file previously created. The example also: use the hint TABLOCK, specifies the batch size, the maximum number of syntax errors, an error file, and an output file.

    At a command prompt, enter the following command:

    cmd

    bcp WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions_bcp IN D:\BCP\StockItemTransactions_native.bcp -b 5000 -h “TABLOCK” -m 1 -n -e D:\BCP\Error_in.log -o D:\BCP\Output_in.log -S -T

    Review Error_in.log and Output_in.log.

    E. Copying a specific column into a data file

    To copy a specific column, you can use the queryout option. The following example copies only the StockItemTransactionID column of the Warehouse.StockItemTransactions table into a data file.

    At a command prompt, enter the following command:

    cmd

    bcp “SELECT StockItemTransactionID FROM WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions WITH (NOLOCK)” queryout D:\BCP\StockItemTransactionID_c.bcp -c –T

    F. Copying a specific row into a data file

    To copy a specific row, you can use the queryout option. The following example copies only the row for the person named Amy Trefl from the WideWorldImporters.Application.People table into a data file Amy_Trefl_c.bcp. Note: the -d switch is used identify the database.

    At a command prompt, enter the following command:

    cmd

    bcp “SELECT * from Application.People WHERE FullName = ‘Amy Trefl'” queryout D:\BCP\Amy_Trefl_c.bcp -d WideWorldImporters -c –T

    G. Copying data from a query to a data file

    To copy the result set from a Transact-SQL statement to a data file, use the queryout option. The following example copies the names from the WideWorldImporters.Application.People table, ordered by full name, into the People.txt data file. Note: the -t switch is used to create a comma-delimited file.

    At a command prompt, enter the following command:

    cmd

    bcp “SELECT FullName, PreferredName FROM WideWorldImporters.Application.People ORDER BY FullName” queryout D:\BCP\People.txt -t, -c –T

    H. Creating format files

    The following example creates three different format files for the Warehouse.StockItemTransactions table in the WideWorldImporters database. Review the contents of each created file.

    At a command prompt, enter the following commands:

    cmd

    REM non-XML character format

    bcp WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions format nul -f D:\BCP\StockItemTransactions_c.fmt -c -T

    REM non-XML native format

    bcp WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions format nul -f D:\BCP\StockItemTransactions_n.fmt -n -T

    REM XML character format

    bcp WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions format nul -f D:\BCP\StockItemTransactions_c.xml -x -c –T

    I. Using a format file to bulk import with bcp

    To use a previously created format file when importing data into an instance of SQL Server, use the -f switch with the in option. For example, the following command bulk copies the contents of a data file, StockItemTransactions_character.bcp, into a copy of the Warehouse.StockItemTransactions_bcp table by using the previously created format file, StockItemTransactions_c.xml. Note: the -L switch is used to import only the first 100 records.

    At a command prompt, enter the following command:

    cmd

    bcp WideWorldImporters.Warehouse.StockItemTransactions_bcp in D:\BCP\StockItemTransactions_character.bcp -L 100 -f D:\BCP\StockItemTransactions_c.xml -T

    J. Specifying a code page

    The following partial code example shows bcp import while specifying a code page 65001:

    cmd

    bcp.exe MyTable in “D:\data.csv” -T -c -C 65001 -t , …