The reason of me using sparse columns is to overcome limit of 1024 columns in a table (I know that generally it's not a good reason and there are downsides, but in my situation it's good option compared to software rewrite option and I didn't write that software, so don't tell me it's bad design, I know).

My customer uses transactional table replication for backup (which means they replicate whole table). So I wonder if replication will work after I start adding those extra sparse columns above 1024 limit.

So far I found 3 limits:

1) This says that I cannot replicate column sets.

2) This says that SQL Server snapshot or transactional publication limit is 1000 columns.

3) From my experiments I found that I cannot add more than 1024 sparse columns if I don't have column set defined.

From these 3 limits I conclude that I cannot replicate wide master table into wide slave table. Is my conclusion correct ?

Is it possible to replicate non-wide parts of master row to combine into one wide row in slave table ? Non-wide I mean < 1000 columns.

If possible then how ? Are there any gotchas for replicating wide tables ?


4) It looks like custom replication SP is one possible answer. Did anybody try to replicate more than 1000 columns with custom replication SPs ?

  • Can you use a XML column? That will allow you unlimited extra fields in the XML DOM.
    Feb 22, 2014 at 0:43
  • XML column will be my next possible choice, but I cannot index them and also cannot update them as separate columns.
    – alpav
    Feb 25, 2014 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


To make a table into a wide table, you must create sparse columns and also add a column set. If you don't create a column set your table will still be limited to 1024 columns. This is why you can't use replication for wide tables.

  • I agree. I've tried and could not even add wide table using sp_addarticle with , @vertical_partition = N'true'. It's also not allowed to add it MS SQL Studio UI.
    – alpav
    Mar 6, 2014 at 16:55

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