How should I store an IP address in SQL Server?
Many people store IP addresses in a CHAR(15) column. Depending on how much data you're storing, this can be quite wasteful (why do we need to store the dots?). I am currently dealing with a warehouse that is approaching 1 terabyte, and believe me, every place we can save a byte or two, we do. So, let's explore a few ways we can store an IP address:
Well, first, let's open Query Analyzer and make sure we're using a non-essential database:
Now, let's create our first table, using a CHAR(15) column. If you're storing IP addresses in a single column, this is probably very similar to what you're doing:
Now, the second table, using four TINYINT columns:
And finally, the third table, using a single INT column:
I built a stored procedure to help facilitate the populating of the four TINYINT solution:
And a function that forms the basis of converting an IP address to an INT. (This function cheats a little by using PARSENAME instead of true character parsing, and one colleague even called it a hack -- elegant, but a hack nonetheless.)
Okay, now let's build a loop and insert some data.
Okay, now that we have some data, let's see what our storage looks like.
Here are the results:
As we may have expected, the storage requirements for the CHAR(15) version are nearly 150% of that for each of the other two methods. But what about retrieval costs?
To facilitate converting the single INT back to a human-readable string, I created the following function:
(It's a little more complex than it's brother.)
Now, if we run the following queries, and turn execution plan and client statistics on:
Believe it or not, the above three queries require about the same amount of time, work and I/O to return data. The latter two have an additional scalar computation but at an extremely low cost (almost 0), so they end up with about the same performance.
So, the winner seems to be storing the octets in four TINYINT columns... while the storage costs are the same as a single INT, it has three big advantages: simpler programming, indexability of individual octets, and human readability. However, I'm not going to decide for you... hopefully I have given you enough ammo to do further research for your own environment. Please let us know if you have any information we could add to this article.
Now, you'll probably want to clean up this stuff we created:
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