SQL Server Comparison Tools

By:   |   Updated: 2019-09-06   |   Comments (15)   |   Related: More > DBA Best Practices


There is often the need to compare both data and database structures from two databases either on the same server or on different servers.  Most text editors have a built-in process to allow you to do a diff and identify any differences between the two files, but comparing data is not quite that easy.  Using this diff process is great if you only want to compare a few files, but what if you need to scan your entire database to look for differences?

As with anything you can always create your own application to automate the comparison process.  You could cursor through all of the tables read the T-SQL from one server, get the T-SQL for the same object from the other server and do a comparison.   To compare the data you can write scripts that read row by row and do a comparison of the data.  But why bother when there are so many products out there already.


Luckily a lot of products already exist.  These products allow you to compare database objects, data, DTS scripts, servers, etc...  In addition, these products are not all that expensive either.  Some of the products are under $100 US and I also found a company that offers a free version, see below.

Following is a list of the various products that allow you to do comparisons:

Object Comparison

Data Comparison

DTS Comparison

  • Red Gate - DTS Package Compare (no longer available)

Server Comparison

  • Quest - ServerCompare (no longer available)

Free Tools

  • SQL Effects CE Edition (no longer available)

If there are other products out there send an email to [email protected] and we will update this list.

Also, check out these tool pages:

Next Steps
  • Next time you need to compare your database objects don't waste your time doing it manually.  Purchase one of these products or download the free version and give it a try.  Most if not all of these vendors offer free trial versions.
  • Determine what needs to be compared and how frequently.  Look at the different options that allow you to compare objects, data, dts packages and even servers.
  • We provided the list of products, so take this list and find the product that is right for you.

Last Updated: 2019-09-06

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MSSQLTips author Greg Robidoux Greg Robidoux is the President of Edgewood Solutions and a co-founder of MSSQLTips.com.

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Comments For This Article

Thursday, July 02, 2020 - 11:14:55 AM - Kyle Back To Top (86080)

We've been using Red Gate since before this article was first written (2012 I think).  I love it, I can see everything ... data, objects, permissions, users ... everything. 

Friday, January 03, 2020 - 4:44:23 PM - Mounsif Back To Top (83621)

We are using SQLDBDiff for both schema and data it's very fast, cheap and there is a free edition https://www.sqldbtools.com/

Saturday, December 28, 2019 - 2:33:16 PM - Bill Hulsizer Back To Top (83544)

What if the difference between two views, functions, triggers, etc is in a calculation, but the output definition still matches (i.e. same column definitions)?  Can any of these tools detect that difference?  I just wrote a tool that can...

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - 9:36:22 AM - John X Back To Top (83467)

I'm using ERBuilder Data Modeler and it includes a good comparison feature, you can compare model/model, model to database or database/database.

An HTML comparison report can be generated.

kind regards 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 12:13:17 AM - Ahmed Back To Top (82347)

I am using SQLDBTools for both shema and data it's very cheap and there is a free edition 


Best regards

Thursday, August 08, 2019 - 2:00:00 PM - Nilesh Patil Back To Top (82006)

I seldomly needed this & have used visual studio community edition (both 2017 & 2019).

in there there are sql tools (while installing you may need to choose those individual components)

then in visual studion menu 'Tools' > Sql Server you have options for data compare & schema compare.

I don't know how fast/efffective they are compared to other tools but they are free (community edition of VS).

that worked for me.

Friday, June 29, 2018 - 2:54:20 PM - Greg Robidoux Back To Top (76465)

The tools look at the DDL and DML code to figure out what is the same and different.

Friday, June 29, 2018 - 2:45:00 PM - Ernest Back To Top (76464)

 Are the tools only using the schema for comparison??


Friday, February 17, 2017 - 7:02:09 AM - Nat Back To Top (46438)

great list of tools, thanks! I use dbForge Schema Compare http://www.devart.com/dbforge/sql/schemacompare/ and am very satisfied!

quickly compare SQL Server databases, analyze differences and perform error-free schema synchronization - this all about dbForge tool!

Monday, September 12, 2016 - 3:48:19 AM - Phil Grayson Back To Top (43301)

Hi, we have a free tool for comparing two database instances of SQL Server including users, plan guides, trace flag, cores, memory, agent jobs etc.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 5:03:02 PM - Greg Robidoux Back To Top (26398)

@Binu - have you talked to ApexSQL to see if they have a solution to automate what you are doing with their tool?

Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 12:31:52 PM - Binu Back To Top (26326)


I have got a new task for migrating SQL objects from VSS to TFS.

Some objects are there in both VSS and TFS.

Have to compare the objects in both VSS and TFS and find out the differences.

Could you please suggest a way for doing this.

For now, we are scripting out objects from VFS and with the help of APEXDiff tool we are manually comparing every single object with object in TFS.How to automate this?

Thanks in advance.






Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 8:50:27 AM - SergeiK Back To Top (24078)

Sorry for the mistake in URL...

Devart's SQL Schema Compare is available here: http://www.devart.com/dbforge/sql/schemacompare/

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 8:42:27 AM - SergeiK Back To Top (24076)

I wonder why Devart's products are not mentioned here. I'm sure they must be observed here. Try dbForge Data and Schema Compare tools – the most professional sql comparison tools I've ever used!

SQL Data Compare: http://www.devart.com/dbforge/sql/datacompare/

SQL Schema Compare: http://www.devart.com/dbforge/mysql/schemacompare/

The price is low but the quality is great!

p.s. Free trials are available!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 10:18:40 AM - VC Back To Top (20429)

Hi Greg,

 I prefer this one as it can accomodate  

Ref-  http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/205011/SQL-Server-Database-Comparison-Tool 




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