Sql-server – way to loop through a table variable in TSQL without using a cursor


Let's say I have the following simple table variable:

declare @databases table
    DatabaseID    int,
    Name        varchar(15),   
    Server      varchar(15)
-- insert a bunch rows into @databases

Is declaring and using a cursor my only option if I wanted to iterate through the rows? Is there another way?

Best Solution

First of all you should be absolutely sure you need to iterate through each row — set based operations will perform faster in every case I can think of and will normally use simpler code.

Depending on your data it may be possible to loop using just SELECT statements as shown below:

Declare @Id int

While (Select Count(*) From ATable Where Processed = 0) > 0
    Select Top 1 @Id = Id From ATable Where Processed = 0

    --Do some processing here

    Update ATable Set Processed = 1 Where Id = @Id 


Another alternative is to use a temporary table:

Select *
Into   #Temp
From   ATable

Declare @Id int

While (Select Count(*) From #Temp) > 0

    Select Top 1 @Id = Id From #Temp

    --Do some processing here

    Delete #Temp Where Id = @Id


The option you should choose really depends on the structure and volume of your data.

Note: If you are using SQL Server you would be better served using:


Using COUNT will have to touch every single row in the table, the EXISTS only needs to touch the first one (see Josef's answer below).

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