Encode and Decode SQL Server Identifiers

THIS TOPIC APPLIES TO: yesSQL ServeryesAzure SQL DatabaseyesAzure SQL Data Warehouse yesParallel Data Warehouse

SQL Server-delimited identifiers sometimes contain characters not supported in Windows PowerShell paths. These characters can be specified by encoding their hexadecimal values.


There are two SQL Server PowerShell modules; SqlServer and SQLPS. The SQLPS module is included with the SQL Server installation (for backwards compatibility), but is no longer being updated. The most up-to-date PowerShell module is the SqlServer module. The SqlServer module contains updated versions of the cmdlets in SQLPS, and also includes new cmdlets to support the latest SQL features.
Previous versions of the SqlServer module were included with SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), but only with the 16.x versions of SSMS. To use PowerShell with SSMS 17.0 and later, the SqlServer module must be installed from the PowerShell Gallery. To install the SqlServer module, see Install SQL Server PowerShell.

Characters that are not supported in Windows PowerShell path names can be represented, or encoded, as the "%" character followed by the hexadecimal value for the bit pattern that represents the character, as in "%xx". Encoding can always be used to handle characters that are not supported in Windows PowerShell paths.

The Encode-SqlName cmdlet takes as input a SQL Server identifier. It outputs a string with all the characters that are not supported by the Windows PowerShell language encoded with "%xx". The Decode-SqlName cmdlet takes as input an encoded SQL Server identifier and returns the original identifier.

Limitations and Restrictions

The Encode-Sqlname and Decode-Sqlname cmdlets only encode or decode the characters that are allowed in SQL Server-delimited identifiers, but are not supported in PowerShell paths. The following are the characters encoded by Encode-SqlName and decoded by Decode-SqlName:

Character |/ : % < > * ? [ ] |
Hexadecimal Encoding %5C %2F %3A %25 %3C %3E %2A %3F %5B %5D %7C

Encoding an Identifier

To encode a SQL Server identifier in a PowerShell path

  • Use one of two methods to encode a SQL Server identifier:

    • Specify the hexadecimal code for the unsupported character using the syntax %XX, where XX is the hexadecimal code.

    • Pass the identifier as a quoted string to the Encode-Sqlname cmdlet

Examples (Encoding)

This example specifies the encoded version of the ":" character (%3A):

Set-Location Table%3ATest  

Alternatively, you can use Encode-SqlName to build a name supported by Windows PowerShell:

Set-Location (Encode-SqlName "Table:Test")  

Decoding an Identifier

To decode a SQL Server identifier from a PowerShell path

Use the Decode-Sqlname cmdlet to replace the hexadecimal encodings with the characters represented by the encoding.

Examples (Decoding)

This example returns “Table:Test”:

Decode-SqlName "Table%3ATest"  

See Also

SQL Server Identifiers in PowerShell
SQL Server PowerShell Provider
SQL Server PowerShell