What Is Shell Scripting in SQL?


Scott Campbell

Shell scripting in SQL is a powerful technique that allows you to automate tasks and perform complex operations in your SQL database. By combining the features of the command-line shell with SQL commands, you can create scripts that execute multiple queries or perform administrative tasks.

What is a Shell Script?

A shell script is a text file containing a series of commands that are executed by the shell, which is a command-line interpreter. In the case of SQL, the shell script contains not just regular shell commands but also SQL statements, making it a powerful tool for database administration and automation.

Why Use Shell Scripting in SQL?

Shell scripting in SQL offers several advantages over traditional manual execution of individual queries. It allows you to:

  • Automate repetitive tasks: By writing a script once, you can automate repetitive tasks like data loading, table creation, or system maintenance.
  • Execute complex operations: Shell scripting enables you to combine multiple SQL statements into a single script, making it easier to perform complex operations that involve multiple tables or databases.
  • Schedule tasks: You can use tools like cron (on Unix-like systems) or Task Scheduler (on Windows) to schedule your shell scripts to run at specific times or intervals.
  • Create backups: With shell scripting, you can easily create automated backup scripts that export your database data and structure.

The Basics of Shell Scripting in SQL

To start writing shell scripts in SQL, you need to follow these basic steps:

  1. Create a new text file with a .sql extension.
  2. Add shebang line at the beginning of the script to specify the shell to use, such as #!/bin/bash for Bash.
  3. Write your SQL statements in the script, one statement per line.
  4. Save the script and make it executable using the chmod command, e.g., chmod +x script.sql.
  5. Execute the script using the shell’s command-line interpreter, e., ./script.

An Example Shell Script in SQL

Let's take a look at an example shell script that demonstrates some common tasks:


# Connect to the database
mysql -u username -p password -h hostname database_name

# Execute SQL statements
SELECT * FROM customers;
UPDATE products SET price = price * 1.1 WHERE category = 'Electronics';
INSERT INTO orders (customer_id, product_id) VALUES (1001, 2003);

# Disconnect from the database

In this example, we first connect to a MySQL database using the mysql command. Then we execute three SQL statements: a SELECT query, an UPDATE query, and an INSERT query. Finally, we disconnect from the database using the exit command.


To run this example on your system, make sure you have MySQL installed and replace 'username', 'password', 'hostname', and 'database_name' with your own values.


Shell scripting in SQL is a powerful technique that allows you to automate tasks and perform complex operations in your SQL database. By combining shell commands with SQL statements, you can create scripts that save time and effort by automating repetitive tasks and executing multiple queries at once. Whether you are a database administrator or a developer, shell scripting in SQL is a valuable skill that can greatly enhance your productivity.