Make your own free website on Tripod.com

How to search all columns of all tables in a database for a keyword?
Last updated: July 28th '02 | Best viewed with: All popular browsers | Best viewed at: 1024x768 | Links to external sites will open in a new window

About myself
My technical skills
My favorites
My picture album

Shortcut keys
My code library

VB resources
SQLServer resources
SQLServer books
Replication FAQ
Scripting resources
ASP resources

Search my site
Sign my guestbook
Contact information

SQL Server Articles New

 
NEW!!! Subscribe to my newsletter:
Want to keep in touch with the latest in SQL Server world? Email vyaskn@hotmail.com with 'subscribe' in the subject line
See also:  
Database coding conventions SQL Server interview questions
Evaluation of federated database servers SQL Server FAQ on programming, administration, replication and tools
SQL Server security best practices SQL Server administration best practices
Related books:
The guru's guide to Transact SQL Advanced Transact-SQL for SQL Server 2000 SQL Server 2000 Programming by example

How to search all columns of all tables in a database for a keyword?


While browsing the SQL Server newsgroups, every once in a while, I see a request for a script that can search all the columns of all the tables in a given database for a specific keyword. I never took such posts seriously. But then recently, one of my network administrators was troubleshooting a problem with Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM). MOM uses SQL Server for storing all the computer, alert and performance related information. He narrowed the problem down to something specific, and needed a script that can search all the MOM tables for a specific string. I had no such script handy at that time, so we ended up searching manually.

That's when I really felt the need for such a script and came up with this stored procedure "SearchAllTables". It accepts a search string as input parameter, goes and searches all char, varchar, nchar, nvarchar columns of all tables (only user created tables. System tables are excluded), owned by all users in the current database. Feel free to extend this procedure to search other datatypes.

The output of this stored procedure contains two columns:

- 1) The table name and column name in which the search string was found
- 2) The actual content/value of the column (Only the first 3630 characters are displayed)

Here's a word of caution, before you go ahead and run this procedure. Though this procedure is quite quick on smaller databases, it could take hours to complete, on a large database with too many character columns and a huge number of rows. So, if you are trying to run it on a large database, be prepared to wait (I did use the locking hint NOLOCK to reduce any locking). It is efficient to use Full-Text search feature for free text searching, but it doesn't make sense for this type of ad-hoc requirements.

Create this procedure in the required database and here is how you run it:

--To search all columns of all tables in Pubs database for the keyword "Computer"
EXEC SearchAllTables 'Computer'
GO


Here is the complete stored procedure code:


CREATE PROC SearchAllTables
(
	@SearchStr nvarchar(100)
)
AS
BEGIN

	-- Copyright  2002 Narayana Vyas Kondreddi. All rights reserved.
	-- Purpose: To search all columns of all tables for a given search string
	-- Written by: Narayana Vyas Kondreddi
	-- Site: http://vyaskn.tripod.com
	-- Tested on: SQL Server 7.0 and SQL Server 2000
	-- Date modified: 28th July 2002 22:50 GMT


	CREATE TABLE #Results (ColumnName nvarchar(370), ColumnValue nvarchar(3630))

	SET NOCOUNT ON

	DECLARE @TableName nvarchar(256), @ColumnName nvarchar(128), @SearchStr2 nvarchar(110)
	SET  @TableName = ''
	SET @SearchStr2 = QUOTENAME('%' + @SearchStr + '%','''')

	WHILE @TableName IS NOT NULL
	BEGIN
		SET @ColumnName = ''
		SET @TableName = 
		(
			SELECT MIN(QUOTENAME(TABLE_SCHEMA) + '.' + QUOTENAME(TABLE_NAME))
			FROM 	INFORMATION_SCHEMA.TABLES
			WHERE 		TABLE_TYPE = 'BASE TABLE'
				AND	QUOTENAME(TABLE_SCHEMA) + '.' + QUOTENAME(TABLE_NAME) > @TableName
				AND	OBJECTPROPERTY(
						OBJECT_ID(
							QUOTENAME(TABLE_SCHEMA) + '.' + QUOTENAME(TABLE_NAME)
							 ), 'IsMSShipped'
						       ) = 0
		)

		WHILE (@TableName IS NOT NULL) AND (@ColumnName IS NOT NULL)
		BEGIN
			SET @ColumnName =
			(
				SELECT MIN(QUOTENAME(COLUMN_NAME))
				FROM 	INFORMATION_SCHEMA.COLUMNS
				WHERE 		TABLE_SCHEMA	= PARSENAME(@TableName, 2)
					AND	TABLE_NAME	= PARSENAME(@TableName, 1)
					AND	DATA_TYPE IN ('char', 'varchar', 'nchar', 'nvarchar')
					AND	QUOTENAME(COLUMN_NAME) > @ColumnName
			)
	
			IF @ColumnName IS NOT NULL
			BEGIN
				INSERT INTO #Results
				EXEC
				(
					'SELECT ''' + @TableName + '.' + @ColumnName + ''', LEFT(' + @ColumnName + ', 3630) 
					FROM ' + @TableName + ' (NOLOCK) ' +
					' WHERE ' + @ColumnName + ' LIKE ' + @SearchStr2
				)
			END
		END	
	END

	SELECT ColumnName, ColumnValue FROM #Results
END