The nchar data type is a character data type in SQL Server that is used to store fixed-length Unicode character strings. It is similar to the char data type, but it stores Unicode characters instead of ASCII characters. In this article, we will explore the nchar data type in detail and understand its usage.
Characteristics of the nchar Data Type:
The nchar data type has the following characteristics:
- It can store fixed-length strings from 1 to 4,000 characters.
- It uses two bytes per character to store Unicode data.
- The storage size in bytes is always twice the number of characters specified.
- If the specified length is less than the actual length of the string being stored, it will be right-padded with spaces to match the specified length.
Usage of the nchar Data Type:
The nchar data type is commonly used when you need to store multilingual or non-English text in your database. It supports all Unicode characters, including those used in various languages like Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, etc. By using the nchar data type, you can ensure that your database can handle and display a wide range of characters correctly.
To declare a column with the nchar data type:
CREATE TABLE MyTable ( MyColumn nchar(10) )
In this example, we have created a table called ‘MyTable’ with a column named ‘MyColumn’ of type nchar with a length of 10 characters. Any value stored in this column will be padded with spaces if it has fewer than 10 characters.
Comparison with the char Data Type:
The main difference between the nchar and char data types is that nchar stores Unicode characters, whereas char stores ASCII characters. The nchar data type consumes more storage space than the char data type because it uses two bytes per character.
When deciding which data type to use, consider the following:
- If you only need to store ASCII characters, you can use the char data type to save storage space.
- If you need to store multilingual or non-English text, use the nchar data type to support Unicode characters.
The nchar data type in SQL Server is a useful choice when you need to store fixed-length Unicode character strings. It allows you to handle and display a wide range of characters correctly, making it suitable for storing multilingual or non-English text. By understanding its characteristics and comparison with the char data type, you can make informed decisions when designing your database schema.