Why We Use Binary Data Type in SQL Server?


Angela Bailey

When it comes to storing data in a SQL Server database, there are several data types to choose from. One of the most commonly used data types is the binary data type. In this article, we will explore why we use the binary data type in SQL Server and its benefits.

What is Binary Data?

Binary data refers to any type of data that is represented in a binary format, which means it consists of only two possible values: 0 and 1. Unlike other data types like strings or numbers, binary data is stored as a sequence of bits.

In SQL Server, the binary data type allows us to store fixed-length binary values. It can store up to 8,000 bytes of binary information. The size is specified when defining the column that will hold the binary data.

Why Use Binary Data Type?

The binary data type offers several advantages over other types of data when it comes to certain scenarios:

  • Data Security: Binary data can be used to store sensitive information like passwords or encryption keys. Since binary values are not human-readable by default, they provide an extra layer of security.
  • Performance: When dealing with large amounts of binary information, storing it as a binary type can improve performance compared to other types like strings.

    Binary values require less storage space and can be processed more efficiently.

  • Data Integrity: Using the binary data type ensures that the stored values are not subject to any implicit conversions or character encoding issues. This helps maintain the integrity and consistency of the stored information.

Working with Binary Data Type

To work with binary data in SQL Server, we need to use appropriate functions and operators that are specifically designed for binary data. Some commonly used functions include:

  • CONVERT: This function allows us to convert other data types into binary values or vice versa.
  • SUBSTRING: We can extract a portion of the binary data using this function.
  • DATALENGTH: This function returns the length in bytes of a binary value.

It’s important to note that when comparing binary values, we need to use the appropriate comparison operators like =, <>, >, etc.


Let’s consider an example where we store images in a SQL Server database. Storing images as binary data ensures that the images are preserved without any loss in quality or information. We can easily retrieve and display these images in our application by converting the binary data back into an image format.

In conclusion, the binary data type in SQL Server is a powerful tool for storing and working with binary information efficiently. It offers enhanced security, improved performance, and ensures data integrity. Whether it’s for storing sensitive information or handling large amounts of binary data, the binary data type is a valuable addition to any SQL Server database.

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