Sql – Difference between BYTE and CHAR in column datatypes

oraclesqlunicodevarchar

In Oracle, what is the difference between :

CREATE TABLE CLIENT
(
 NAME VARCHAR2(11 BYTE),
 ID_CLIENT NUMBER
)

and

CREATE TABLE CLIENT
(
 NAME VARCHAR2(11 CHAR), -- or even VARCHAR2(11)
 ID_CLIENT NUMBER
)

Best Solution

Let us assume the database character set is UTF-8, which is the recommended setting in recent versions of Oracle. In this case, some characters take more than 1 byte to store in the database.

If you define the field as VARCHAR2(11 BYTE), Oracle can use up to 11 bytes for storage, but you may not actually be able to store 11 characters in the field, because some of them take more than one byte to store, e.g. non-English characters.

By defining the field as VARCHAR2(11 CHAR) you tell Oracle it can use enough space to store 11 characters, no matter how many bytes it takes to store each one. A single character may require up to 4 bytes.