From reading around the net it seems the use of cursors is frown upon but no one ever seemed to give an alternative to them. In my case I need to set row by row though the results of a select statement and pass a few columns from each row into another stored procedure for processing. The only way I see to do this is to create a cursor and run a while loop to use the cursor to grab each row so the data can be processed. So is using a cursor to step though each row from a select statement for processing the best way to do this or is there another way? In my case I have to make sure every single row is processed.
Ideally, you should change the other stored procedure to work on a set rather than take individual values (or create a new stored procedure that works on the set). If you show the actual logic in the procedure and the schema of the affected table(s), rather than just describe the high level process as a word problem, you can get some ideas about that. One way to avoid calling the procedure multiple times would be to pass the values for the different rows as a single set using a table-valued parameter (but again this requires re-writing the procedure or creating a new one).
In the meantime, if you absolutely must use a loop, you must also be willing to accept the performance consequences. One way to offset those - in cases where you really are using a cursor as a read-only, single pass through a set - is to use the following keywords when declaring your cursor:
DECLARE c CURSOR LOCAL FAST_FORWARD FOR SELECT ...
More info here: