Sql – How to select all records from one table that do not exist in another table

sqlsql-servertsql

table1 (id, name)
table2 (id, name)

Query:

SELECT name   
FROM table2  
-- that are not in table1 already

Best Solution

SELECT t1.name
FROM table1 t1
LEFT JOIN table2 t2 ON t2.name = t1.name
WHERE t2.name IS NULL

Q: What is happening here?

A: Conceptually, we select all rows from table1 and for each row we attempt to find a row in table2 with the same value for the name column. If there is no such row, we just leave the table2 portion of our result empty for that row. Then we constrain our selection by picking only those rows in the result where the matching row does not exist. Finally, We ignore all fields from our result except for the name column (the one we are sure that exists, from table1).

While it may not be the most performant method possible in all cases, it should work in basically every database engine ever that attempts to implement ANSI 92 SQL