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Exporting SQL Server Data using BCP Utility



Develop a solution that automates the process of exporting specific data from a Microsoft SQL Server database to a CSV file using the BCP utility. The solution should allow to specify the database, table, fields, and destination file path as inputs, and generate the CSV file with the desired data automatically.


In today's data-driven world, the ability to export data from databases is crucial for various purposes, such as analysis, reporting, and sharing information. One popular tool for exporting data from Microsoft SQL Server is the Bulk Copy Program (BCP) utility. In this blog post, we will explore a step-by-step guide on how to use the BCP utility to export data from a SQL Server database and save it to a CSV file.

Step 1: Understanding the BCP Utility

BCP is a command-line tool provided by Microsoft SQL Server. It allows you to import and export large amounts of data between SQL Server databases and external files. With BCP, you can control the format and structure of the exported data, making it versatile for various data export needs.

Step 2: Setting Up the Command

Let's break down the follwing bcp command and understand its components:

bcp "select fldName, fldValue from [DBNAME].[dbo].[tblName]" queryout "Q:\Jeevan\exportdata.csv" -c -t, -S DBServer -T
  • bcp: The command itself that invokes the BCP utility.
  • "select fldName, fldValue from [DBNAME].[dbo].[tblName]": The SQL query that selects the desired fields from the table you specified. Replace [DBNAME], [dbo], and [tblName] with the actual database, schema, and table names, respectively.
  • queryout: Specifies that the BCP utility should export the data from the SQL query.
  • "Q:\Jeevan\exportdata.csv": The file path and name of the output CSV file. Modify it to the desired location and filename.
  • -c: Specifies that the data should be exported in a character format.
  • -t,: Specifies the field terminator character to be a comma (,) in this case.
  • -S DBServer: Specifies the SQL Server instance or server name where the database resides. Replace DBServer with the appropriate server name or connection string.
  • -T: Specifies that the BCP utility should use Windows Authentication for the connection.

Step 3: Executing the Command

To execute the BCP command, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Command Prompt or your preferred command-line interface.
  2. Navigate to the directory where the BCP utility is located. By default, it can be found in the SQL Server installation directory under the "Tools\Binn" folder (ex. C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\Client SDK\ODBC\170\Tools\Binn). IF PATH variable is configures bcp caommand can be executed anywhere
  3. Copy and paste the modified BCP command into the command-line interface.
  4. Press Enter to execute the command.

Step 4: Verifying the Exported Data

Once the BCP command is executed successfully, navigate to the file path specified in the command ("Q:\Jeevan\exportdata.csv" in the provided command) to find the exported CSV file. Open the file using a spreadsheet application or a text editor to verify the exported data.

Key features of bcp

  1. High-performance data transfer: BCP is designed for high-speed data transfer between SQL Server and external files. It can handle large volumes of data quickly and efficiently.

  2. Command-line interface: BCP is a command-line tool, which allows for automation and scripting of data import/export operations. It can be easily integrated into batch files or used within scripts for seamless data processing.

  3. Flexible data formats: BCP supports various data formats, including delimited text files, fixed-width text files, native SQL Server binary files, and XML format. This flexibility enables importing and exporting data in a format that best suits your needs.

  4. Customizable field and row terminators: BCP allows you to specify custom field and row terminators when importing or exporting data. This is particularly useful when working with non-standard or special characters in your data.

  5. Data transformations: BCP provides options for transforming data during the import or export process. You can define custom transformations using format files, which allow you to map data columns, skip columns, apply data conversions, and handle special data formats.

  6. Batch size control: BCP allows you to control the batch size when importing or exporting data. You can specify the number of rows per batch, which helps optimize performance and manage memory usage.

  7. Error handling and logging: BCP provides options to handle errors during data transfer and log error messages to a specified file. This enables you to track and troubleshoot any issues that may occur during the import or export process.

  8. Security features: BCP supports authentication and encryption options to ensure secure data transfer. You can specify the login credentials and use SSL encryption for data protection.

  9. Integration with SQL Server features: BCP integrates well with other SQL Server features and components. It can be used in conjunction with SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), SQL Server Agent, and other tools for comprehensive data management tasks.

These are some of the main features offered by the BCP utility. Depending on your specific use case, you can leverage these features to efficiently import or export data in bulk with Microsoft SQL Server.


The BCP utility is a powerful tool for exporting data from SQL Server databases to external files. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this blog post, you can easily export data from your SQL Server database and save it to a CSV file. Remember to modify the command with your specific database, table, file path, and connection details to suit your requirements.