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Thoughts On Data Sizing

Greg Low has some thoughts around data types and sizes:

I was recently at a site where they were changing all their bigint columns to uniqueidentifier columns (ie: GUID columns) because they were worried about running out of bigint values. In a word, that’s ridiculous. While it’s easy to say “64 bit integer”, I can assure you that understanding the size of one is out of our abilities. In 1992, I saw an article that said if you cleared the register of a 64 bit computer and put it in a loop just incrementing it (adding one), on the fastest machine available that day, you’d hit the top value in 350 years. Now machines are much faster now than back then, but that’s a crazy big number.

If you’re at risk of running out of bigints, you have a lot of data—that’s more than 18 quintillion rows that you can hold, and if my quick math is up to snuff, would be roughly 127 thousand petabytes of data just to store the IDs.