C# – Random row from Linq to Sql


What is the best (and fastest) way to retrieve a random row using Linq to SQL when I have a condition, e.g. some field must be true?

Best Solution

You can do this at the database, by using a fake UDF; in a partial class, add a method to the data context:

partial class MyDataContext {
     [Function(Name="NEWID", IsComposable=true)] 
     public Guid Random() 
     { // to prove not used by our C# code... 
         throw new NotImplementedException(); 

Then just order by ctx.Random(); this will do a random ordering at the SQL-Server courtesy of NEWID(). i.e.

var cust = (from row in ctx.Customers
           where row.IsActive // your filter
           orderby ctx.Random()
           select row).FirstOrDefault();

Note that this is only suitable for small-to-mid-size tables; for huge tables, it will have a performance impact at the server, and it will be more efficient to find the number of rows (Count), then pick one at random (Skip/First).

for count approach:

var qry = from row in ctx.Customers
          where row.IsActive
          select row;

int count = qry.Count(); // 1st round-trip
int index = new Random().Next(count);

Customer cust = qry.Skip(index).FirstOrDefault(); // 2nd round-trip