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How to make a random selection from an SQL table

, 2 Mar 2005
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A simple technique for selecting random records from a table.


This is one of the simplest solutions to a difficult problem I have ever come across. If like me, you have ever had the need to randomly select a number of database records from an SQL server (e.g. for banner ads or special offer selections) then this is an easy solution.


OK. So you have a table of records in an SQL database. Let's call the table "tbl_offers" for this example. In SQL you can assign a new ID value to any record which you select using the function "NewID()". This means if you order your records by this randomly generated ID field and select the top five or ten say, then every time you will get a different set of results.


Please note I have written the following code only to demonstrate the use of the SQL and so have made it as simple as possible.

//This table can subsequently be used as a datasource
DataTable tbl_offers = new DataTable();

SqlConnection conn_offers = new SqlConnection(
    "Insert your DB Connection string here"
SqlDataAdapter da_offers = new SqlDataAdapter(
     "SELECT Top 5 * FROM tbl_offers ORDER BY NewID()", 

And that's it. Very simple, very effective.


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About the Author

Founder Tech Dept
United Kingdom United Kingdom
My Evolution:
TRS-80 Basic, Clipper, C, Better Basic, FORTRAN, C++, Visual Basic, Delphi, C#

Comments and Discussions

GeneralLove it, Take 5 PinmemberOmar Gamil18-Jun-11 5:06 
Generaltrying to retrieve random questions from SQL Server PinmemberMember 445285320-Feb-10 20:51 
Generaltrying to retrieve random questions from SQL Server PinmemberMember 445285320-Feb-10 20:43 
GeneralCool tip Pinmemberaries78112-Aug-09 22:16 
GeneralAmazing PinmemberMember 33712744-Feb-09 17:53 
GeneralGood idea but doesn't work on all servers PinmemberMegosAR16-Oct-07 21:53 
GeneralYou can do the same using Rand function right !! PinmemberHimanshu Kumar Sinha12-Jun-06 0:07 
GeneralFantastic But............ Pinmemberyasir102423-May-06 21:58 
GeneralGreat! Pinmembertakcrazy26-Apr-06 3:31 
GeneralBrilliant Pinmemberfurioso12-Mar-06 12:18 
QuestionFascinating -- where documented? Pinmemberdavidw8801128-Mar-05 9:00 
AnswerRe: Fascinating -- where documented? Pinmemberdavidw8801128-Mar-05 9:02 
Questionperformance hit? PinmemberAshley van Gerven4-Mar-05 13:55 
AnswerRe: performance hit? PinsussStephen R5-Mar-05 6:04 
AnswerRe: performance hit? PinmemberRafael Araújo23-Mar-05 14:06 
Generalgr8! PinmemberAssaad Codoholic2-Mar-05 21:17 
GeneralNice tip! - more info here... PinmemberRayD2-Mar-05 6:59 

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