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Quickly Finding Row Counts for SQL Server Tables

Jeff Iannucci doesn’t have time for a table scan:

Have you ever had to find the number of rows in a user table, and then wrote a little “SELECT COUNT(*) FROM tblWhatever” and hit execute…and waited…and waited…and waited some more? And then started wondering what was going on?

If so, this post is for you.

Read on for a stored procedure which gets a nice estimate of the total number of rows. I tend to have a form of the underlying query saved as a snippet so I can use it easily. One thing to keep in mind is that these stats-based counts can be wrong. It’s rare and typically has to do with page splits duplicating values, but on a very large, very busy table you might occasionally be off by a few rows. I might posit in return that on such a table, if precision is that important, the amount of time between querying the stats and doing something with it will probably also cause you to see a difference in row counts anyhow.