Switching To Identities

Kevin Feasel



James Anderson shows how to do a table switch to switch a table without an identity column to one with an identity column:

The SWITCH statement can instantly ‘move’ data from one table to another table. It does this by updating some meta data, to say that the new table is now the owner of the data instead of the old table. This is very useful as there is no physical data movement to cause the stresses mentioned earlier. There are a lot of rules enforced by SQL Server before it will allow this to work. Essentially each table must have the same columns with the same data types and NULL settings, they need to be in the same file group and  the new table must be empty. See here for a more detailed look at these rules.

If you can take a downtime, this is pretty easy.  Otherwise, making sure that the two tables are in sync until the switchover occurs is a key problem to keep in mind.

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March 2016
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