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I have a table which has four fields

create table test_hc1(cola int,colb int,colc varchar(20),cold int);

Now, I am trying to load following data


and the third field in table is coming out as NULL, which is the expected result.

In another case, I am trying to load following data


and it is also loading the third field as NULL.

Here is my question : What is the difference between using the two(\N, NULL) ?

I am using


Any help is appreciated.


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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Depends on your options FIELDS and LINES used in the LOAD DATA statement.

MySQL documentation

From MySQL doc:

Handling of NULL values varies according to the FIELDS and LINES options in use:

For the default FIELDS and LINES values, NULL is written as a field value of \N for output, and a field value of \N is read as NULL for input (assuming that the ESCAPED BY character is “\”).

If FIELDS ENCLOSED BY is not empty, a field containing the literal word NULL as its value is read as a NULL value. This differs from the word NULL enclosed within FIELDS ENCLOSED BY characters, which is read as the string 'NULL'.

If FIELDS ESCAPED BY is empty, NULL is written as the word NULL.

With fixed-row format (which is used when FIELDS TERMINATED BY and FIELDS ENCLOSED BY are both empty), NULL is written as an empty string. Note that this causes both NULL values and empty strings in the table to be indistinguishable when written to the file because both are written as empty strings. If you need to be able to tell the two apart when reading the file back in, you should not use fixed-row format.

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From the MySQL documentation:

The NULL value means “no data.” NULL can be written in any lettercase. A synonym is \N (case sensitive).

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