SQL Server 2008 Command-Line Utilities : The bcp Command-Line Utility

10/10/2010 6:15:35 PM
You use the bcp (bulk copy program) tool to address the bulk movement of data. This utility is bidirectional, allowing for the movement of data into and out of a SQL Server database.

bcp uses the following syntax:

bcp {[[database_name.][owner].]{table_name | view_name} | "query"}
{in | out | queryout | format} data_file
[-mmax_errors] [-fformat_file] [-x] [-eerr_file]
[-Ffirst_row] [-Llast_row] [-bbatch_size]
[-n] [-c] [-N] [-w] [-V (60 | 65 | 70 | 80)] [-6]
[-q] [-C { ACP | OEM | RAW | code_page } ] [-tfield_term]
[-rrow_term] [-iinput_file] [-ooutput_file] [-apacket_size]
[-Sserver_name[\instance_name]] [-Ulogin_id] [-Ppassword]
[-T] [-v] [-R] [-k] [-E] [-h"hint [,...n]"]

Some of the commonly used options—other than the ones used to specify the database, such as user ID, password, and so on—are the –F and –L options. These options allow you to specify the first and last row of data to be loaded from a file, which is especially helpful in large batches. The –t option allows you to specify the field terminator that separates data elements in an ASCII file. The –E option allows you to import data into SQL Server fields that are defined with identity properties.


The BULK INSERT T-SQL statement and SSIS are good alternatives to bcp. The BULK INSERT statement is limited to loading data into SQL Server, but it is an extremely fast tool for loading data. SSIS is a sophisticated GUI that allows for both data import and data export, and it has capabilities that go well beyond those that were available in SQL Server 2000’s Data Transformation Services (DTS).

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