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Posted 2 Mar 2005

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#

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralLove it, Take 5 Pin
Omar Gamil18-Jun-11 4:06
memberOmar Gamil18-Jun-11 4:06 
Generaltrying to retrieve random questions from SQL Server Pin
Member 445285320-Feb-10 19:51
memberMember 445285320-Feb-10 19:51 
Generaltrying to retrieve random questions from SQL Server Pin
Member 445285320-Feb-10 19:43
memberMember 445285320-Feb-10 19:43 
GeneralCool tip Pin
aries78112-Aug-09 21:16
memberaries78112-Aug-09 21:16 
GeneralAmazing Pin
Member 33712744-Feb-09 16:53
memberMember 33712744-Feb-09 16:53 
GeneralGood idea but doesn't work on all servers Pin
MegosAR16-Oct-07 20:53
memberMegosAR16-Oct-07 20:53 
GeneralYou can do the same using Rand function right !! Pin
Himanshu Kumar Sinha11-Jun-06 23:07
memberHimanshu Kumar Sinha11-Jun-06 23:07 
GeneralFantastic But............ Pin
yasir102423-May-06 20:58
memberyasir102423-May-06 20:58 
GeneralGreat! Pin
takcrazy26-Apr-06 2:31
membertakcrazy26-Apr-06 2:31 
GeneralBrilliant Pin
furioso12-Mar-06 11:18
memberfurioso12-Mar-06 11:18 
QuestionFascinating -- where documented? Pin
davidw8801128-Mar-05 8:00
memberdavidw8801128-Mar-05 8:00 
AnswerRe: Fascinating -- where documented? Pin
davidw8801128-Mar-05 8:02
memberdavidw8801128-Mar-05 8:02 
Questionperformance hit? Pin
Ashley van Gerven4-Mar-05 12:55
memberAshley van Gerven4-Mar-05 12:55 
AnswerRe: performance hit? Pin
Stephen R5-Mar-05 5:04
sussStephen R5-Mar-05 5:04 
AnswerRe: performance hit? Pin
Rafael Araújo23-Mar-05 13:06
memberRafael Araújo23-Mar-05 13:06 
Generalgr8! Pin
Assaad Codoholic2-Mar-05 20:17
memberAssaad Codoholic2-Mar-05 20:17 
GeneralNice tip! - more info here... Pin
RayD2-Mar-05 5:59
memberRayD2-Mar-05 5:59 

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