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These datatypes particularly NVARCHAR(n), have been with us for some time now but having seen some of the confusion around when to use any of these, I feel oblige to share and infact to also learn more from anyone out there.



This data is used for storing a variable-length unicode string. The variable, n, – for the mathematically inclined – denotes the length of the string data and this be anything between 1 and 4,000.


NVARCHAR(max) (Large value type.)

The “max” in this datatype denotes a maximum storage size of 2 GB. Values stored in a nvarchar(N) are physically stored in the same way. However for the nvarchar(max) datatype , the values are treated as a TEXT value thus some additional processing is required particularly when the size exceeds 8000.


So when do we use any of these

The choice of which of these data types to use, firstly lies with what the business requirements are. In my own experience, the nvarchar(n) data type has been the preferred option as per requirements and more importantly, because of performance issues.

Unless there is a compelling reason to use nvarchar(max), I will strongly recommend the use of nvarcha(n) as this will meet most business requirement and also the optimum performance one stands to gain from this. For instance, creating a field just to store any amount of data only for it hold 100 or even 200 characters is not elegant.

Hope you find this article useful, please feel free to add comments and let me know what you think.


Ziek's SQL Home

Ezekiel is an IT professional with over ten years experience in building database applications and BI solutions. He holds a BSc Computer Science degree from KNUST, Ghana and a MSc Business IT degree from Kingston Business School, London. He has delivered solutions for the Insurance, Banking, Telecom and Housing Industries and his key expertise include developing Microsoft BI solutions using the full stack and C#, Business Process Improvement and Project Risk Management. He is a Microsoft SQL Server Certified Professional.


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