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Is there a way to configure SQL Server to limit the number of rows than an update statement can modify? Say I wanted the limit to be 30,000 rows and someone fired an update that would modify 45,000 rows, they would receive an error or some other preventive message.

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migrated from Nov 30 '11 at 16:05

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Interesting problem, but why are you trying to do this? – Nick Chammas Nov 30 '11 at 16:52
I don't know much about this in dbms's other than sybase, but you could set the transaction log appropriately so it'll fill up and fail if you act on too many rows. – user606723 Nov 30 '11 at 20:28
up vote 7 down vote accepted

A trigger would be how I would handle this. This will slow down all your update statements as SQL now has a bunch of extra work to do, but it'll handle your requirement.

CREATE TRIGGER Something on dbo.SomeTable
IF (select count(*) from inserted) > 30000
   RAISERROR('To many rows being processed at one.  Reduce and try again.', 16, 1)

Personally I wouldn't like the idea of the instead of trigger and reapplying the update with a smaller row set as this gets into tricky areas of half completed operations now which could get very messy, quickly.

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Of course the same trigger would have to be built on every table that you wanted to limit inserts on. There is no global setting for this. – HLGEM Nov 30 '11 at 21:12
Yep, excellent point. – mrdenny Dec 1 '11 at 0:44
This approach works perfectly. We need to lock down a couple of critical tables so they don't get bogged down with massive updates. – Chad Cook Dec 1 '11 at 16:49

You could do this with an AFTER INSERT TRIGGER, and count the number of records in the inserted table, and handle your desired record limit that way.

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You could also use an instead of trigger. You would either use SET ROWCOUNT <a number> (which is being deprecated) or UPDATE TOP <a number>... to re-apply the update (or insert or whatever).

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