Finding Gaps In Identity Columns

Kevin Feasel

2018-09-04

T-SQL

Shaun J Stuart walks us through a couple of solutions for finding gaps in identity ranges:

Have you ever had random inserts into a large table fail? Most of the time, inserts happen fine, but every so often you get a failure with a “primary key violation” error? If your primary key is an integer column with the identity property, you may be wondering how this is possible.

What is likely happening is your table has grown very large or has been in use for a long time and your identity column ran out of numbers. An integer column has a maximum value of 2,147,483,647. Now an integer can start at -2,147,483,648, but most people  start at 0 or 1, so that leaves you with 2 billion numbers.

This is a specific sub-case of the more general gaps and islands problem.

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