I am currently delving into the potential applications and advantages of utilizing the negative range of the int or bigint data types within SQL Server, with a particular focus on the range extending from -2,147,483,648 to 0. Could you kindly shed light on the prospective uses and benefits of employing such a negative range? Furthermore, I am intrigued by the possibility of optimizing this negative range as an alternative to the conventional 0-to-positive range that typically starts with a seed of 1. I am eager to discover innovative and efficient strategies for capitalizing on this negative range across a variety of scenarios.

  • Unclear what you're actually asking? Optimization usually refers to performance or efficiency. Neither of those things differ whether you use a negative or positive number for the signed data types INT or BIGINT.
    – J.D.
    Feb 1 at 13:57
  • Pro is that you get double the range before needing to consider a larger datatype. Con is that the numbers aren't as nice. Less intuitively apparent when eye balling the data that -2147483647 is larger than -2147483648 in my subjective opinion Feb 1 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


It doubles the range of values that can be used, but I would recommend seeding with 1 rather than -2,147,483,648 etc.

  • If you run out of identity values starting with -2,147,483,648 this is a bigger problem. If you started at 1, you could always reseed to -2,147,483,648 to buy some more time to plan a switch to bigint.
  • Negative values are more likely to cause confusion
  • Doubling the range doesn't matter for bigint - as you are not going to run out of values
  • If you expect to need more than 2147483647 identity values for int, you are probably better off with bigint. Changing from int to bigint is painful and takes some planning.
  • A large negative value won't benefit from row compression. So it might be less efficient in terms of storage space to start with a large negative number.

Ideally it's good to have some monitoring in place to predict when you are going to run out of identity values and give you time to plan for a migration to bigint. I created DBA Dash which includes some monitoring for this. It's free and open source.

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