Import data from Excel to SQL Server or Azure SQL Database

APPLIES TO: yesSQL Server yesAzure SQL Database noAzure SQL Data Warehouse noParallel Data Warehouse

There are several ways to import data from Excel files to SQL Server or to Azure SQL Database. Some methods let you import data in a single step directly from Excel files; other methods require you to export your Excel data as text before you can import it. This article summarizes the frequently used methods and provides links for more detailed information.

List of methods

You can use the following tools to import data from Excel:

Export to text first Directly from Excel
Import Flat File Wizard SQL Server Import and Export Wizard
BULK INSERT statement SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)
BCP OPENROWSET function
Copy Wizard (Azure Data Factory)
Azure Data Factory
   

If you want to import multiple worksheets from an Excel workbook, you typically have to run each of these tools once for each sheet.

A complete description of complex tools and services like SSIS or Azure Data Factory is beyond the scope of this list. To learn more about the solution that interests you, follow the provided links.

Important

For detailed info about connecting to Excel files, and about limitations and known issues for loading data from or to Excel files, see Load data from or to Excel with SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).

If you don't have SQL Server installed, or you have SQL Server but don't have SQL Server Management Studio installed, see Download SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS).

SQL Server Import and Export Wizard

Import data directly from Excel files by stepping through the pages of the SQL Server Import and Export Wizard. Optionally, save the settings as a SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) package that you can customize and reuse later.

  1. In SQL Server Management Studio, connect to an instance of the SQL Server Database Engine.

  2. Expand Databases.

  3. Right-click a database.

  4. Point to Tasks.

  5. Click one of the following options.

    • Import Data
    • Export Data

    Start wizard SSMS

Connect to an Excel data source

For an example of using the wizard to import from Excel to SQL Server, see Get started with this simple example of the Import and Export Wizard.

To learn about other ways to launch the Import and Export wizard, see Start the SQL Server Import and Export Wizard.

SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

If you're familiar with SSIS and don't want to run the SQL Server Import and Export Wizard, create an SSIS package that uses the Excel Source and the SQL Server Destination in the data flow.

For more info about these SSIS components, see the following topics:

To start learning how to build SSIS packages, see the tutorial How to Create an ETL Package.

Components in the data flow

OPENROWSET and linked servers

Note

In Azure, the OPENROWSET and OPENDATASOURCE functions are available only on SQL Database Managed Instance.

Note

The ACE provider (formerly the Jet provider) that connects to Excel data sources is intended for interactive client-side use. If you use the ACE provider on the server, especially in automated processes or processes running in parallel, you may see unexpected results.

Distributed queries

Import data directly from Excel files by using the Transact-SQL OPENROWSET or OPENDATASOURCE function. This usage is called a distributed query.

Before you can run a distributed query, you have to enable the ad hoc distributed queries server configuration option, as shown in the following example. For more info, see ad hoc distributed queries Server Configuration Option.

sp_configure 'show advanced options', 1;
RECONFIGURE;
GO
sp_configure 'Ad Hoc Distributed Queries', 1;
RECONFIGURE;
GO

The following code sample uses OPENROWSET to import the data from the Excel Sheet1 worksheet into a new database table.

USE ImportFromExcel;
GO
SELECT * INTO Data_dq
FROM OPENROWSET('Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0',
    'Excel 12.0; Database=C:\Temp\Data.xlsx', [Sheet1$]);
GO

Here's the same example with OPENDATASOURCE.

USE ImportFromExcel;
GO
SELECT * INTO Data_dq
FROM OPENDATASOURCE('Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0',
    'Data Source=C:\Temp\Data.xlsx;Extended Properties=Excel 12.0')...[Sheet1$];
GO

To append the imported data to an existing table instead of creating a new table, use the INSERT INTO ... SELECT ... FROM ... syntax instead of the SELECT ... INTO ... FROM ... syntax used in the preceding examples.

To query the Excel data without importing it, just use the standard SELECT ... FROM ... syntax.

For more info about distributed queries, see the following topics:

Linked servers

You can also configure a persistent connection to the Excel file as a linked server. The following example imports the data from the Data worksheet on the existing Excel linked server EXCELLINK into a new database table named Data_ls.

USE ImportFromExcel;
GO
SELECT * INTO Data_ls FROM EXCELLINK...[Data$];
GO

You can create a linked server from SQL Server Management Studio, or by running the system stored procedure sp_addlinkedserver, as shown in the following example.

DECLARE @RC int

DECLARE @server     nvarchar(128)
DECLARE @srvproduct nvarchar(128)
DECLARE @provider   nvarchar(128)
DECLARE @datasrc    nvarchar(4000)
DECLARE @location   nvarchar(4000)
DECLARE @provstr    nvarchar(4000)
DECLARE @catalog    nvarchar(128)

-- Set parameter values
SET @server =     'EXCELLINK'
SET @srvproduct = 'Excel'
SET @provider =   'Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0'
SET @datasrc =    'C:\Temp\Data.xlsx'
SET @provstr =    'Excel 12.0'

EXEC @RC = [master].[dbo].[sp_addlinkedserver] @server, @srvproduct, @provider,
@datasrc, @location, @provstr, @catalog

For more info about linked servers, see the following topics:

For more examples and info about both linked servers and distributed queries, see the following topics:

Prerequisite - Save Excel data as text

To use the rest of the methods described on this page - the BULK INSERT statement, the BCP tool, or Azure Data Factory - first you have to export your Excel data to a text file.

In Excel, select File | Save As and then select Text (Tab-delimited) (*.txt) or CSV (Comma-delimited) (*.csv) as the destination file type.

If you want to export multiple worksheets from the workbook, select each sheet and then repeat this procedure. The Save as command exports only the active sheet.

Tip

For best results with data importing tools, save sheets that contain only the column headers and the rows of data. If the saved data contains page titles, blank lines, notes, and so forth, you may see unexpected results later when you import the data.

The Import Flat File Wizard

Import data saved as text files by stepping through the pages of the Import Flat File Wizard.

As described previously in the Prerequisite section, you have to export your Excel data as text before you can use the Import Flat File Wizard to import it.

For more info about the Import Flat File Wizard, see Import Flat File to SQL Wizard.

BULK INSERT command

BULK INSERT is a Transact-SQL command that you can run from SQL Server Management Studio. The following example loads the data from the Data.csv comma-delimited file into an existing database table.

As described previously in the Prerequisite section, you have to export your Excel data as text before you can use BULK INSERT to import it. BULK INSERT can't read Excel files directly.

USE ImportFromExcel;
GO
BULK INSERT Data_bi FROM 'C:\Temp\data.csv'
   WITH (
      FIELDTERMINATOR = ',',
      ROWTERMINATOR = '\n'
);
GO

For more info, see the following topics:

BCP tool

BCP is a program that you run from the command prompt. The following example loads the data from the Data.csv comma-delimited file into the existing Data_bcp database table.

As described previously in the Prerequisite section, you have to export your Excel data as text before you can use BCP to import it. BCP can't read Excel files directly.

bcp.exe ImportFromExcel..Data_bcp in "C:\Temp\data.csv" -T -c -t ,

For more info about BCP, see the following topics:

Copy Wizard (Azure Data Factory)

Import data saved as text files by stepping through the pages of the Azure Data Factory Copy Wizard.

As described previously in the Prerequisite section, you have to export your Excel data as text before you can use Azure Data Factory to import it. Data Factory can't read Excel files directly.

For more info about the Copy Wizard, see the following topics:

Azure Data Factory

If you're familiar with Azure Data Factory and don't want to run the Copy Wizard, create a pipeline with a Copy activity that copies from the text file to SQL Server or to Azure SQL Database.

As described previously in the Prerequisite section, you have to export your Excel data as text before you can use Azure Data Factory to import it. Data Factory can't read Excel files directly.

For more info about using these Data Factory sources and sinks, see the following topics:

To start learning how to copy data with Azure data factory, see the following topics:

Common errors

Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0" has not been registered

This error occurs because the OLEDB provider is not installed. Install it from Microsoft Access Database Engine 2010 Redistributable. Be sure to install the 64-bit version if Windows and SQL Server are both 64-bit.

The full error is:

Msg 7403, Level 16, State 1, Line 3
The OLE DB provider "Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0" has not been registered.

Cannot create an instance of OLE DB provider "Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0" for linked server "(null)".

This indicates that the Microsoft OLEDB has not been configured properly. Run the following Transact-SQL code to resolve this:

EXEC sp_MSset_oledb_prop N'Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0', N'AllowInProcess', 1   
EXEC sp_MSset_oledb_prop N'Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0', N'DynamicParameters', 1

The full error is:

Msg 7302, Level 16, State 1, Line 3
Cannot create an instance of OLE DB provider "Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0" for linked server "(null)".

The 32-bit OLE DB provider "Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0" cannot be loaded in-process on a 64-bit SQL Server.

This occurs when a 32-bit version of the OLD DB provider is installed with a 64-bit SQL Server. To resolve this issue, uninstall the 32-bit version and install the 64-bit version of the OLE DB provider instead.

The full error is:

Msg 7438, Level 16, State 1, Line 3
The 32-bit OLE DB provider "Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0" cannot be loaded in-process on a 64-bit SQL Server.

The OLE DB provider "Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0" for linked server "(null)" reported an error. The provider did not give any information about the error.

Cannot initialize the data source object of OLE DB provider "Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0" for linked server "(null)".

Both of these errors typically indicate a permissions issue between the SQL Server process and the file. Ensure that the account that is running the SQL Server service has full access permission to the file. We recommend against trying to import files from the desktop.

The full errors are:

Msg 7399, Level 16, State 1, Line 3
The OLE DB provider "Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0" for linked server "(null)" reported an error. The provider did not give any information about the error.
Msg 7303, Level 16, State 1, Line 3
Cannot initialize the data source object of OLE DB provider "Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0" for linked server "(null)".

See Also

Import data from Excel or export data to Excel with SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)