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Posted 20 Aug 2010


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IDENTITY Property in SQL Server

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29 Aug 2010CPOL2 min read
Identity property in SQL Server

Sometimes, we need a column whose values can uniquely identifying the rows in the table. To achieve this purpose, this column should contain the unique values and it can’t contain the NULL or empty values. We can use this column in the “Where” clause of the Select statement to retrieve the data from the table quickly.

But as a human being, we sometimes forget to insert the data into this column or sometimes, we insert the duplicate data into this column. So it will be very helpful if the SQL Server itself inserts the value in this column whenever we try to insert any row into the table. SQL Server does this with the help of the identity column. We can set the initial value for this column and the value which the previous value is incremented to get the new value. We sometimes use this like the primary key of the table.

For example, suppose we want to create a table named student whose structure is given below:

CREATE TABLE Student (Studentid int IDENTITY (1, 1) NOT NULL,
        Firstname nvarchar (200) NULL,Lastname nvarchar (200),Email nvarchar (100) NULL )

Here column Studentid is defined as the identity column. In the Identity column, the value of the first argument defined the initial value for this column and the value of the second argument defined the value used to add in the last value of this column for getting the next value.

Now if we want to insert the row in the table Student, we do not need to specify the value for the column Studentid. For example:

insert into Student (Firstname,Lastname,Email)
              Values('Vivek', 'Johari', ‘')

Here, we do not specify the value for the studentid column in the Insert statement.

Although the Identity column is very useful in maintaining the data in the table, sometimes, we need to set this constraint off like when we import the data into the database.

To set the Identity column property off, the following command is used:

Set Identity_insert Tablename Off

For example, if we want to keep the identity column (studentid) property off for the Student table, we need to use the following SQL Query:

set identity_insert Student off

To set the Identity column property On, the following command is used:

Set Identity_insert Tablename On

For example:

set identity_insert Student on

We can also reset the values of the identity column to some different value with the help of the following command:

dbcc checkident (Tablename, reseed, 10)

For example, to reset the value of the studentid column of the table Student, we need to use the following SQL Command:

dbcc checkident (Student, reseed, 10)


Identity column in the SQL server is a very useful property and it can be used to retrieve the data very quickly especially in the table where no primary key is defined.


  1. Only one Identity column is possible for a table.
  2. In case of truncate command on a table, the identity column value is reset to 0.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Vivek Johari
Database Administrator
India India
I am currently working as a Senior DBA and have around 11 years of experience in database.

Master Degree in Computer(MCA)

Work experience:-
Designing of the database.
Database Optimization.
Writing Complex Stored Procedures,Functions,Triggers etc.
Designing and developing SSIS & DTS packages.
Designing SQL Reports using SSRS.
Database Server Maintenance.

Microsoft certified Sql DBA in Sql server 2008 (MCTS).
Microsoft certified BI professional in Sql server 2008 (MCTS).
Oracle certified profession DBA in ORACLE 10g (OCP)
certified profession DBA in ORACLE 9i (OCP)

My other publication
Technical Blog:- Technologies with Vivek Johari

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 2 Pin
qery13374-Nov-14 4:01
Memberqery13374-Nov-14 4:01 
GeneralMy vote of 2 Pin
EngleA31-Aug-10 4:29
MemberEngleA31-Aug-10 4:29 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
bencr31-Aug-10 4:25
Memberbencr31-Aug-10 4:25 
QuestionTabs and Property Pages ??? Pin
Ed Bouras24-Aug-10 2:11
MemberEd Bouras24-Aug-10 2:11 
While you're at it you might want to have the article classified under SQL. Ditto to the others -- maybe you could work more closely with the CP editors to see how the article's structure and content could be improved?

On its own, a cut and dry description about IDENTITY is about as sexy as a belt sander (disclaimer: I recognize that some people have some pretty kinky fetishes Wink | ;) - no offense to them)
GeneralMy vote of 2 Pin
Julien Bouvier23-Aug-10 13:33
MemberJulien Bouvier23-Aug-10 13:33 
GeneralRe: My vote of 2 Pin
amit_vasu24-Aug-10 6:37
Memberamit_vasu24-Aug-10 6:37 
GeneralRe: My vote of 2 Pin
EngleA31-Aug-10 4:30
MemberEngleA31-Aug-10 4:30 
GeneralFix the formatting. Pin
R. Giskard Reventlov19-Aug-10 4:06
MemberR. Giskard Reventlov19-Aug-10 4:06 
GeneralSuggestions Pin
Christian Graus17-Aug-10 10:42
mveChristian Graus17-Aug-10 10:42 

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