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Differences between Varchar and Nvarchar

Differences between Varchar and Nvarchar

SQL Server offers two data types for storing character data: Varchar and Nvarchar. Both have their place in a database, but there are some key differences between them. In this article, we’ll take a look at those differences and see when it makes sense to use each type.

What is Varchar?

Varchar is a data type that is used to store variable-length character strings. The name “varchar” is short for “variable character.” Varchar values are stored as a sequence of characters, with each character taking up one byte of storage.

  • Varchar values can be of any length, up to the maximum number of characters that the database can hold. Varchar is often used to store text data, such as names and addresses. Varchar columns are typically used when the data size is unknown or highly variable.
  • When storing varchar data, the database needs to allocate enough space to hold the longest string that will be stored in that column. For example, if a column is defined as varchar(255), the database will allocate 255 bytes of storage for every value stored in that column.
  • Varchar columns take up more space than other data types, so they should only be used when necessary. In general, it is best to use the smallest data type that will hold the expected range of values. Varchar columns can be indexed, but they’ll take up more space in the index than other data types. Varchar columns can also be sorted and searched using standard string comparison functions.

What is Nvarchar?

Nvarchar is a data type that is used to store character data. Nvarchar can store up to 4000 characters. Nvarchar data is stored in a variable-length field, so it can take up more space than other data types. Nvarchar data is also Unicode, which means that it can store characters from multiple languages. Nvarchar is often used to store data such as names and addresses.

Nvarchar is an SQL-Server data type, so it can only be used with SQL Server databases. Nvarchar is different from varchar, which is another data type that stores character data. Varchar can only store up to 255 characters, and it is not Unicode. Varchar data is also stored in a fixed-length field, so it takes up less space than nvarchar data. Nvarchar is the preferred data type for storing character data in SQL Server databases.

Differences between Varchar and Nvarchar

  • Varchar and Nvarchar are both data types used in SQL. Varchar is a variable-length character data type, while Nvarchar is a variable-length character data type that can store Unicode data.
  • Unicode is a standard for encoding characters that allows for a wider range of characters to be represented. As a result, Nvarchar can store data from multiple languages, while Varchar can only store data from a single language.
  • In terms of performance, Varchar is generally faster than Nvarchar since it requires less storage. However, Nvarchar offers the benefit of being able to store more data. When choosing between Varchar and Nvarchar, it is important to consider the needs of your application. If you need to support multiple languages, Nvarchar is the better choice. If you only need to support a single language and speed is a concern, Varchar may be the better option.


In the world of SQL Server, there are two data types that deal with strings: Varchar and Nvarchar. Both have their own unique benefits, but which one you should choose for your specific needs can be tricky to determine. We’ve outlined the key differences between these two data types so you can make an informed decision when it comes time to select the right one for your project.

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