I'm given the task to export the content of a huge table from a production database and to import the data into a database at a remote location.

The Table has about 45,000,000 rows. using about 4 GB space in the database.

Its 10 Columns are of type int, datetime and varchar(n) <= 255, but some of the varchar fields contain newlines and the usual field separators used by bulkcopy.

I guess export to Excel is no option due to the number of rows. Export with SSIS to Flatfile is possible (took about 30 minutes), but reimport is not automatic, since some fields where spitted.

My current idea is

  1. create a new database on the production server (using same collations as the production database)
  2. Set its recovery mode to simple
  3. copy the data with Select * into copy_of_table from prod_db..big_table
  4. Detach mdf file from this new database and ship it to the other location
  5. Drop adhoc database

I assume that inserting into a database with simple recovery model generates only minimal logging on the new database and this way is one of the fastest possible to export the data and the impact to the production database is the least possible.

  • 2
    I've done that before - caveat: if source db isn't quite the same version (express / standard, patches, etc) they might have issues re-attaching... In my case never an issue as I controlled both sides. Commented Jul 24, 2011 at 22:16

2 Answers 2


I'd of thought BCP, with a format file rather than defaults, would be your best bet.

Creating a format file

  • I do not see how a format file could help here
    – bernd_k
    Commented Jul 24, 2011 at 18:02
  • My understanding from your question was that you were excluding BCP due to having varchar fields that contain standard delimitors? Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 14:50
  • The varchar fields can contain any character. How do format files help?
    – bernd_k
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 14:58
  • By allowing you to define any combination of characters as a delimiter. Something like ||^|| should do it. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 23:22
  • +1 for combination of characters. But you can use them without format files. bcp dbname.dbo.mytable OUT test1.txt -S myserver -U sa -P 1234 -c -r '€\n' -t '€|' -- or bcp "SELECT * FROM dbname.dbo.mytable WHERE xx > 100" queryout bk_test2.txt -S myserver -U sa -P 1234 -c -r '€\n' -t '€|'
    – bernd_k
    Commented Jul 26, 2011 at 5:32

Your method will work fine, I would pre-allocate the data file on the new database so it won't need to autogrow. A backup would work just as well as detaching. And the destination server will need the same or higher version of SQL.


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