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I am trying to find a way to extract part of the strings below. I need everything between the 6th and 7th \ character.


Desired results:

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I am trying to get server name. –  user761786 Apr 25 '13 at 17:52

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Well, one way would be to use an ordered split function:

CREATE FUNCTION dbo.SplitStringsOrdered
    @List       NVARCHAR(2000),
    @Delimiter  NVARCHAR(32)
      SELECT rn = ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY Number), Item 
        FROM (SELECT Number, Item = LTRIM(RTRIM(SUBSTRING(@List, Number, 
          CHARINDEX(@Delimiter, @List + @Delimiter, Number) - Number)))
        FROM (SELECT ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY [object_id])
          FROM sys.all_objects) AS n(Number)
        WHERE Number <= CONVERT(INT, LEN(@List))
        AND SUBSTRING(@Delimiter + @List, Number, LEN(@Delimiter)) = @Delimiter
      ) AS y);

Sample usage:

DECLARE @x TABLE(filepath NVARCHAR(2000));


SELECT x.filepath, s.Item FROM @x AS x
  CROSS APPLY dbo.SplitStringsOrdered(x.filepath, '\') AS s
  WHERE s.rn = 7;


filepath                                     Item
-------------------------------------------  -------
\\file...eed\Wednesday\ServerA\Tlog\DBA1...  ServerA
\\file...eed\Wednesday\ServerB\Tlog\mode...  ServerB
\\file...eed\Saturday\ServerA\TLog\DBA_2...  ServerA
\\file...eed\Friday\ServerB\Tlog\DB3_TLO...  ServerB
\\file...eed\Wednesday\ServerC\Tlog\DB44...  ServerC
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Good article by @Aaron - Split strings the right way – or the next best way. It highlights various methods to split the string with performance comparison.Excellent stuff. sqlperformance.com/2012/07/t-sql-queries/split-strings –  Kin Apr 25 '13 at 16:37
@Kin thanks, but that article doesn't really address how to get the nth element in a string based on a delimiter. –  Aaron Bertrand Apr 25 '13 at 17:05
thought will be useful to know when dealing with splitting the strings in general as you have explained in a very detailed and easy way. –  Kin Apr 25 '13 at 17:10
There's something wrong (minor) with the answer - running it verbatim returns Wednesday etc for s.rn=6, not ServerA etc as the result shows. –  孔夫子 Apr 26 '13 at 3:40
孔夫子 I was originally missing the leading \ –  Aaron Bertrand Apr 26 '13 at 14:41

You don't need to use any functions for this. Just some string manipulation.

Sample data

create table tbl (path varchar(1000));
insert tbl values (


select path, ltrim(rtrim(
                         replace(cast(path as nvarchar(max)),
                                 replicate(cast(' ' as nvarchar(max)),10000)),
                         60001, 10000)))
  from Tbl


|                                                                           PATH | COLUMN_1 |
|  \\fileServerA\d$\LiteSpeed\Wednesday\ServerA\Tlog\DBA1_TLOG_20110504_0333.SLS |  ServerA |
| \\fileServerA\d$\LiteSpeed\Wednesday\ServerB\Tlog\model_TLOG_20120321_1038.SLS |  ServerB |
|  \\fileServerA\d$\LiteSpeed\Saturday\ServerA\TLog\DBA_2_TLOG_20120811_1538.SLS |  ServerA |
|      \\fileServerA\d$\LiteSpeed\Friday\ServerB\Tlog\DB3_TLOG_20120914_2330.BAK |  ServerB |
|  \\fileServerA\d$\LiteSpeed\Wednesday\ServerC\Tlog\DB44_TLOG_20120815_1445.BAK |  ServerC |

Some notes:

  1. String functions in SQL Server return the same type as their operands. You may notice that I cast both the path column and the space (' ') to nvarchar(max). Without these explicit casts, both would be truncated at 4000 characters - similar to the STUFF issue here.

  2. The trick I am using makes use of the fact that spaces are not significant and can easily be removed using RTRIM+LTRIM. The spaces are made really large and form "walls" that effectively partition the data into "columns". The 7th column starts from 60001 (and a bit).

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This method scales much better, but I have encountered problems with the large size of the columns. If you are using this method more than twice in a WHERE clause it starts negatively impacting performance, and the more you use, the worse it gets. I found that by shortening the values in REPLICATE and SUBSTRING by a factor of 100 (remove 2 0s) really helped the performance and still got me the desired results. Thanks very much for this solution. –  MBielski Aug 13 at 17:45

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