Does it really take twice as much space to store at all times? Unicode is only 16-bits wide when using characters outside of the standard 7-bit ASCII range. If you are primarily storing English, wouldn't the nvarchar therefore only store most characters as 8-bit wide as well? That's how unicode works in most programming languages... Just curious, I have no idea how SQL works in this respect.
Actually, most programming languages use two bytes (the equivalent of a WCHAR instead of a CHAR) to store unicode character data, regardless of what the data contains. It would be a lot of overhead to try to determine, at runtime, whether each character could safely be chopped down to a single byte; so either you've declared up front that you're going to allocate space for unicode throughout the string, or you've declared that you won't.
This the best example of a man of few words.
Excellent way to explain.
Just a note:
IIRC, Java uses unicode internally for strings throughout anyway, and has to convert to 8-bit on the fly.
UCS-2 is typical for in-memory representation and UTF-8 for serialisation.
NVARCHAR is UCS-2.
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Adam thanks ,Its Really good information.
"Strangely, though, you are still expected to define a collating sequence for such a column"
Well, I don't work for Microsoft so I can't say that I know why they did it.
But I may have a clue though. If you set up your column to accept unicode data, it's basically because you expect accents or other special characters.
From a language to another, the way those characters are sorted (does the e acute comes after Z, as in English, or after E, as in French?) changes. So it makes sense to give an hint to the DB enigne as to what to do with the data.
It think that it's like telling the DB : "Okay, this is unicode, but you should threat it like a Greek would do".
That's what I think it is, anyway... :)
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Thanks for the simple answer to a simple question.
I believe SQL server is optimized for unicode data so the question becomes is there really a benefit to using varchar over nvarchar outside of disk space? Does SQL Server convert UTF-8 to an internal unicode format before working with it? I know quite a few other areas of Microsoft software do this unless you specify not to.
then varchar also sufficint right..it is also used for dynamic thing only....if i ll give like varchar(max) then nothing difference right?
i got information about varchar in this area...
nvarchar should always be used, otherwise you end up with code page conversion issues and lots of pain.
Thanks. That's what i am looking for
How come I am able to store a unicode character in a varchar field?
Jesse, I have the same question. My field is varchar, but I can store there characters as ššžýá. But I am not able to save another national characters -e.g. čř. This can be done only with nvarchar.
Maybe collation setting on the database infuece it, too.
thanks, i had a problem with the database size, now i solved it...
I ran into an issue of incredibly poor performance with 'linking' varchar and nvarchar fields in supposing they were practically identical... but it went away completely (going from a 10 minute query down to 6 seconds) when I made both table fields identical type - at varchar.
sp_executesql (please don't hurt me for mentioning prepared sql)... requires nvarchar for @stmt parameter... up to nvarchar(max) in 2005 or nvarchar(4000) in 2000. Correct me if I'm wrong. -Cal
I have programmed spanish/english applications for several years and I have always used varchar for the string fields. I have never had an issue with them. Spanish accented characters and tildes (ñ) are stored and retrieved with no problem at all.
I have read just what Randall said above: nvarchar (unicode) fields are necessary when you have the need to store japanese, chinese or other "strange" characters.
I saw what you guys wrote above, but I am still not sure of how nvarchar affects performance.
Lets say I have in my mssql only few tables with columns that may have Latin characters, how will the performance be affected if I change these specific columns to be nvarchar?
Not sure about that, but in the original post you can read,
"...The reason for this is that nvarchar takes twice as much space as varchar..."
If you have lots of data, that can be a problem.
I can't see another performance problem
This is the "Feeling Lucky" hit for "varchar vs nvarchar" :)
Thank you very much for sharing this information
Yes, It really takes twice as much space at all times. The reason you declare how long a varchar or nvarchar is so that the Database App can reserve a specified amount of space for that variable. If you have a field set up as varchar(15) and your data is only 3 characters long, it will still take up 15 characters of storage because that is how much space the Database App reserved.
Short and sweet dude. Took me longer to write this comment than to get my answer.
Since data-storage is not the problem anymore, I allways use nvarchar.
Space may not be a problem these days, however I typically see the bigger the database the longer it may take to perform IO intensive queries.
Of course 1/2 the field size dosent mean 2x the query speed however what about when transmitting the data? espically over slower network.
Also why not use a user defined datatype, so if you do need to change the type the task is a little easier.
I totally agree, If you don't need it shouldn't be using NVarchar as size of data increases, transmission time increses. Good Article
What about conversion issues since ADO.NET uses Unicode and indexing etc. searching for varchar with an nvarchar parameter? Does that blow the indexing?
What Anthony said above about the query issue joining nvarchar to varchar is a known bug. I had the same issue and resolved by making both varchar.
Wouldn't nVarchars be slower in sorting, searching and joining because the processor has to look at twice as many bits to perform any action?
Honestly I don't see any difference in practical terms regarding the Portuguese language and the currency symbol €. Made a simple test with a table with 2 columns, one NVARCHAR and another VARCHAR. Insert text with characters such as é, â, ã, ç and € in both columns and it all seems the same. Didn't get any errors or warnings.
Even executing a select on the data seems OK.
I'm missing something?
Never the less good post and good explanation on NVARCHAR and VARCHAR differences.
Very explainatory and really good article.
I have one query...
If any one can help me to write an SP which
convert all the nvarchar data type to varchar datatypes in all tables in a database in SQL Server
Excellent short and sweet comparison
Exactly what I was looking for, cheers for the concise answer.
Guys, the bottom line is bits.
You have 8 bits to represent the English and European languages in ASCII character set (forget other language and symbol sets).
Once you need more, you have to go to Unicode...16 bits...like Japanese. I have done this coding before...delivered a Japanese Windows product...originally written in English.
Expect to store everything in SQL as an NCHAR or NVARCHAR column.
This is the safest way to go....and performance is not an issue unless you are storing huge text fields (which you shouldn't be using anyway).
Otherwise, your code is portable and internationalization-ready.
Sometimes it is best to ignore performance in exchange for other benefits (and simplicity). We have 64-bit Windows, multiple-core processors, fast hard drives, and unlimited virtual memory now.
Just my opinion. :)
@ Jesse, Petra, Pablo, Joquim:
The characters you mention that work are single-byte characters that belong to the Windows-1252 codepage, all of which are stored as a single byte without issue.
ASCII only defines 0x7F characters. From 0x80 to 0xFF are defined by some other codepage that is a superset of ASCII - most likely Windows-1252 or ISO-8859-1 (which only differ from each other for about 16 values, IIRC). Your link is actually showing one of these 256-character codepages, and calling it (incorrectly) ASCII.
This could start World War 3
This is best example Thanks
thanks for the nice and concise explanation. couldn't quite understand the difference between these two data types ever before.
wow! very useful blog. thanks
Thanks! This blog put things in black ans white
Somebody really read the entire blog?, I only read some comments and I lost the idea of the discussion.
Switching everything to varchar. We use English and Spanish only. Thanks for all the comments.
Doubt is the key to knowledge.
good good…this put up deserves absolutely nothing …hahaha just joking :P …nice article :P
Is Join on nvarchar and varchar is still an issue with MS SQL 2008?
Ha sany one tried it?
Thanks, that's what i'm looking for
Thanks for this! Now I have to cringe over how many times over the last decade I used nvarchar stupidly and wasted all that memory. *cringe*
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What about symbols (aka English - nothing special) but you need to display the Degree symbol for Farenheit (aka deg F using symbol). I believe that requires the usage of NVARCHAR over VARCHAR.
great blog. many thanks.
Hmm, another consideration is that the OS converts from code page to Unicode before collating, so varchar should be slower....
I also run into problems all the time from customers that have had their markets grow or suddenly start otherwise seeing "unexpected" data that's now suddenly important that they hadn't planned for.
No body talked about one difference.
NVARCHAR(N): take N number of bytes to store a string, no matter how long the actual string is.
VARCHAR(N) : May take less than N number of bytes if the string is shorter than N bytes.
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He didn't talk about the 'difference' because NVARCHAR is seldom used. I for one, found exactly the information I was looking for. Again, GREAT WORK OP!
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I have been wondering what's the difference between nvarchar and varchar. Thanks for your explanation... now I understand. Anyway, I have always been using varchar in my database. :)
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Sorry, but you have to be careful in whether to use nvarchar or varchar to store your string values. The number of bytes/bits can cause a problem in some SQL functions. I learn that in a hard way when I used the HASHBTYES function (SHA2_512 algorithm) and wasn't getting the values I was looking for. If you use HASHBTYES on 'abc123', the returned value matches other hashing programs. If you store the same 'abc123' string in nvarchar and varchar columns, then execute the HASHBTYES function on stored string of both columns, you will get different values. The one from varchar is correct. The one from nvarchar is the result of a value padded by extra 0 bits and will be different.
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