Order hints for bulk copy operations

APPLIES TO: .NET Framework .NET Core .NET Standard

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Bulk copy operations offer significant performance advantages over other methods for loading data into a SQL Server table. Performance can be further enhanced by using order hints. Specifying order hints for your bulk copy operations can lower the insertion time of sorted data into tables with clustered indexes.

By default, the bulk insert operation assumes the incoming data is unordered. SQL Server forces an intermediate sort of this data before bulk loading it. If you know your incoming data is already sorted, you can use order hints to tell the bulk copy operation about the sort order of any destination columns that are part of a clustered index.

Adding order hints to a bulk copy operation

The following example bulk copies data from a source table in the AdventureWorks sample database to a destination table in the same database. A SqlBulkCopyColumnOrderHint object is created to define the sort order for the ProductNumber column in the destination table. The order hint is then added to the SqlBulkCopy instance, which will append the appropriate order hint argument to the resulting INSERT BULK query.

using System;
using System.Data;
using Microsoft.Data.SqlClient;

class Program
    static void Main()
        string connectionString = GetConnectionString();
        // Open a sourceConnection to the AdventureWorks database.
        using (SqlConnection sourceConnection =
                   new SqlConnection(connectionString))

            // Perform an initial count on the destination table.
            SqlCommand commandRowCount = new SqlCommand(
                "SELECT COUNT(*) FROM " +
            long countStart = System.Convert.ToInt32(
            Console.WriteLine("Starting row count = {0}", countStart);

            // Get data from the source table as a SqlDataReader.
            SqlCommand commandSourceData = new SqlCommand(
                "SELECT ProductID, Name, " +
                "ProductNumber " +
                "FROM Production.Product;", sourceConnection);
            SqlDataReader reader =

            // Set up the bulk copy object.
            using (SqlBulkCopy bulkCopy =
                       new SqlBulkCopy(connectionString))
                bulkCopy.DestinationTableName =

                // Setup an order hint for the ProductNumber column.
                SqlBulkCopyColumnOrderHint hintNumber =
                    new SqlBulkCopyColumnOrderHint("ProductNumber", SortOrder.Ascending);

                // Write from the source to the destination.
                catch (Exception ex)
                    // Close the SqlDataReader. The SqlBulkCopy
                    // object is automatically closed at the end
                    // of the using block.

            // Perform a final count on the destination 
            // table to see how many rows were added.
            long countEnd = System.Convert.ToInt32(
            Console.WriteLine("Ending row count = {0}", countEnd);
            Console.WriteLine("{0} rows were added.", countEnd - countStart);
            Console.WriteLine("Press Enter to finish.");

    private static string GetConnectionString()
    // To avoid storing the sourceConnection string in your code, 
    // you can retrieve it from a configuration file. 
        return "Data Source=(local); " +
            " Integrated Security=true;" +
            "Initial Catalog=AdventureWorks;";

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