SQL NVARCHAR and VARCHAR Limits

All, I have a large (unavoidable) dynamic SQL query. Due to the number of fields in the selection criteria the string containing the dynamic SQL is growing over 4000 chars. Now, I understand that there is a 4000 max set for NVARCHAR(MAX), but looking at the executed SQL in Server Profiler for the statement

DELARE @SQL NVARCHAR(MAX);
SET @SQL = 'SomeMassiveString > 4000 chars...';
EXEC(@SQL);
GO

Seems to work(!?), for another query that is also large it throws an error which is associated with this 4000 limit(!?), it basically trims all of the SQL after this 4000 limit and leaves me with a syntax error. Despite this in the profiler, it is showing this dynamic SQL query in full(!?).

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  • What exactly is happening here and should I just be converting this @SQL variable to VARCHAR and get on with it?

    Thanks for your time.

    Ps. It would also be nice to be able to print out more than 4000 chars to look at these big queries. The following are limited to 4000

    SELECT CONVERT(XML, @SQL);
    PRINT(@SQL);
    

    is there any other cool way?

    4 Solutions collect form web for “SQL NVARCHAR and VARCHAR Limits”

    I understand that there is a 4000 max set for NVARCHAR(MAX)

    Your understanding is wrong. nvarchar(max) can store up to (and beyond sometimes) 2GB of data (1 billion double byte characters).

    From nchar and nvarchar in Books online the grammar is

    nvarchar [ ( n | max ) ]
    

    The | character means these are alternatives. i.e. you specify either n or the literal max.

    If you choose to specify a specific n then this must be between 1 and 4,000 but using max defines it as a large object datatype (replacement for ntext which is deprecated).

    In fact in SQL Server 2008 it seems that for a variable the 2GB limit can be exceeded indefinitely subject to sufficient space in tempdb (Shown here)

    Regarding the other parts of your question

    Truncation when concatenating depends on datatype.

    1. varchar(n) + varchar(n) will truncate at 8,000 characters.
    2. nvarchar(n) + nvarchar(n) will truncate at 4,000 characters.
    3. varchar(n) + nvarchar(n) will truncate at 4,000 characters. nvarchar has higher precedence so the result is nvarchar(4,000)
    4. [n]varchar(max) + [n]varchar(max) won’t truncate (for < 2GB).
    5. varchar(max) + varchar(n) won’t truncate (for < 2GB) and the result will be typed as varchar(max).
    6. varchar(max) + nvarchar(n) won’t truncate (for < 2GB) and the result will be typed as nvarchar(max).
    7. nvarchar(max) + varchar(n) will first convert the varchar(n) input to nvarchar(n) and then do the concatenation. If the length of the varchar(n) string is greater than 4,000 characters the cast will be to nvarchar(4000) and truncation will occur.

    Datatypes of string literals

    If you use the N prefix and the string is <= 4,000 characters long it will be typed as nvarchar(n) where n is the length of the string. So N'Foo' will be treated as nvarchar(3) for example. If the string is longer than 4,000 characters it will be treated as nvarchar(max)

    If you don’t use the N prefix and the string is <= 8,000 characters long it will be typed as varchar(n) where n is the length of the string. If longer as varchar(max)

    For both of the above if the length of the string is zero then n is set to 1.

    Newer syntax elements.

    1. The CONCAT function doesn’t help here

    DECLARE @A5000 VARCHAR(5000) = REPLICATE('A',5000);
    
    SELECT DATALENGTH(@A5000 + @A5000), 
           DATALENGTH(CONCAT(@A5000,@A5000));
    

    The above returns 8000 for both methods of concatenation.

    2. Be careful with +=

    DECLARE @A VARCHAR(MAX) = '';
    
    SET @A+= REPLICATE('A',5000) + REPLICATE('A',5000)
    
    DECLARE @B VARCHAR(MAX) = '';
    
    SET @B = @B + REPLICATE('A',5000) + REPLICATE('A',5000)
    
    
    SELECT DATALENGTH(@A), 
           DATALENGTH(@B);`
    

    Returns

    -------------------- --------------------
    8000                 10000
    

    Note that @A encountered truncation.

    How to resolve the problem you are experiencing.

    You are getting truncation either because you are concatenating two non max datatypes together or because you are concatenating a varchar(4001 - 8000) string to an nvarchar typed string (even nvarchar(max)).

    To avoid the second issue simply make sure that all string literals (or at least those with lengths in the 4001 – 8000 range) are prefaced with N.

    To avoid the first issue change the assignment from

    DECLARE @SQL NVARCHAR(MAX);
    SET @SQL = 'Foo' + 'Bar' + ...;
    

    To

    DECLARE @SQL NVARCHAR(MAX) = ''; 
    SET @SQL = @SQL + N'Foo' + N'Bar'
    

    so that an NVARCHAR(MAX) is involved in the concatenation from the beginning (as the result of each concatenation will also be NVARCHAR(MAX) this will propagate)

    Avoiding truncation when viewing

    Make sure you have “results to grid” mode selected then you can use

    select @SQL as [processing-instruction(x)] FOR XML PATH 
    

    The SSMS options allow you to set unlimited length for XML results. The processing-instruction bit avoids issues with characters such as < showing up as &lt;.

    Okay, so if later on down the line the issue is that you have a query that’s greater than the allowable size (which may happen if it keeps growing) you’re going to have to break it into chunks and execute the string values. So, let’s say you have a stored procedure like the following:

    CREATE PROCEDURE ExecuteMyHugeQuery
        @SQL VARCHAR(MAX) -- 2GB size limit as stated by Martin Smith
    AS
    BEGIN
        -- Now, if the length is greater than some arbitrary value
        -- Let's say 2000 for this example
        -- Let's chunk it
        -- Let's also assume we won't allow anything larger than 8000 total
        DECLARE @len INT
        SELECT @len = LEN(@SQL)
    
        IF (@len > 8000)
        BEGIN
            RAISERROR ('The query cannot be larger than 8000 characters total.',
                       16,
                       1);
        END
    
        -- Let's declare our possible chunks
        DECLARE @Chunk1 VARCHAR(2000),
                @Chunk2 VARCHAR(2000),
                @Chunk3 VARCHAR(2000),
                @Chunk4 VARCHAR(2000)
    
        SELECT @Chunk1 = '',
               @Chunk2 = '',
               @Chunk3 = '',
               @Chunk4 = ''
    
        IF (@len > 2000)
        BEGIN
            -- Let's set the right chunks
            -- We already know we need two chunks so let's set the first
            SELECT @Chunk1 = SUBSTRING(@SQL, 1, 2000)
    
            -- Let's see if we need three chunks
            IF (@len > 4000)
            BEGIN
                SELECT @Chunk2 = SUBSTRING(@SQL, 2001, 2000)
    
                -- Let's see if we need four chunks
                IF (@len > 6000)
                BEGIN
                    SELECT @Chunk3 = SUBSTRING(@SQL, 4001, 2000)
                    SELECT @Chunk4 = SUBSTRING(@SQL, 6001, (@len - 6001))
                END
                  ELSE
                BEGIN
                    SELECT @Chunk3 = SUBSTRING(@SQL, 4001, (@len - 4001))
                END
            END
              ELSE
            BEGIN
                SELECT @Chunk2 = SUBSTRING(@SQL, 2001, (@len - 2001))
            END
        END
    
        -- Alright, now that we've broken it down, let's execute it
        EXEC (@Chunk1 + @Chunk2 + @Chunk3 + @Chunk4)
    END
    

    You mus use nvarchar text too. that’s mean you have to simply had a “N” before your massive string and that’s it! no limitation anymore

    DELARE @SQL NVARCHAR(MAX);
    SET @SQL = N'SomeMassiveString > 4000 chars...';
    EXEC(@SQL);
    GO
    
    declare @p varbinary(max)
    set @p = 0x
    declare @local table (col text)
    
    SELECT   @p = @p + 0x3B + CONVERT(varbinary(100), Email)
     FROM tbCarsList
     where email <> ''
     group by email
     order by email
    
     set @p = substring(@p, 2, 100000)
    
     insert @local values(cast(@p as varchar(max)))
     select DATALENGTH(col) as collen, col from @local
    
    result collen > 8000, length col value is more than 8000 chars
    
    MS SQL Server is a Microsoft SQL Database product, include sql server standard, sql server management studio, sql server express and so on.