Solving problems with loading data from Excel files into databases

Common problem: trying to load the data from Excel file half of the data is coming as nulls, or columns with more than 255 characters are truncated

The logic behind Excel mixed data types

As partially explained here

ODBC/MS Jet scans first TypeGuessRows to determine field type

Here how Excel ODBC/MS Jet works

(TypeGuessRows=8 IMEX=1)

In your eight (8) scanned rows, if the column contains five (5) numeric values and three (3) text values, the provider returns five (5) numbers and three (3) null values.
In your eight (8) scanned rows, if the column contains three (3) numeric values and five (5) text values, the provider returns three (3) null values and five (5) text values.
In your eight (8) scanned rows, if the column contains four (4) numeric values and four (4) text values, the provider returns four (4) numbers and four (4) null values.
In your eight (8) scanned rows all of them less than 255 characters the provider will truncate all data to 255 characters
In your eight (8) scanned rows, if the column contains five (5) values with more length than 255 the provider will returm more than 255 characters


Setting IMEX=1 tells the driver to use Import mode. In this state, the registry setting ImportMixedTypes=Text will be noticed. This forces mixed data to be converted to text. For this to work reliably, you may also have to modify the registry setting, TypeGuessRows=8. The ISAM driver by default looks at the first eight rows and from that sampling determines the datatype. If this eight row sampling is all numeric, then setting IMEX=1 will not convert the default datatype to Text; it will remain numeric.

     Nobody wants to load half of the data, everybody wants to load data as it is

The only way to make import from Excel work is

Set IMEX=1 in connection string

Close any programs that are running.
On the Start menu, click Run. Type regedit and click OK.
In the Registry Editor, expand the following key depending on the version of Excel that you are running:
Excel 97
Excel 2000 and later versions

Select TypeGuessRows and on the Edit menu click Modify.
In the Edit DWORD Value dialog box, click Decimal under Base.
Set the value to 1

Open Excel file

Make sure that the cells in the first line of the table have relevant data for example

  • mixed numbers and text characters for text fields
  • only numbers for numeric fields
  • If some of the data will be longer than 255 characters make sure that first line cell has more 255 characters otherwise it will be truncated

This solution apply to all versions of MS Excel ODBC driver, Ole DB, MS Jet, .NET, DTS and SSIS

We have spent enormous amount of time trying to get it fixed. So far we were not able to find a better solution.

The way Excel import works makes it not possible to automate it. You have to modify most of excel files manually in order to load them.

This why we are no longer using ODBC/OleDB/Ms Jet for Excel connections. Our ETL solutions work currecly with Excel all the time

  • Works directly with Excel 3.0-2007
  • No ODBC, OleDB or MS Jet Required
  • Works correctly with mixed data types
  • Works correctly with cells with more 255 characters
  • No need for IMEX=1, HDR=Yes or Registry hacks (TypeGuessRows)

  • Loads data correctly all the time + no need to edit Excel file
  • Can create Excel files in Excel 3.0-2007 format
  • Can insert data starting from specific cell
  • Can clear area before adding data into Excel
  • Can add headers

Related Microsoft KB's

  1. PRB: Excel Values Returned as NULL Using DAO OpenRecordset
  2. Data truncated to 255 characters with Excel ODBC driver
  3. Excel ODBC Driver May Determine Wrong Data Type
  4. BUG: Excel ODBC Driver Disregards the FirstRowHasNames or Header Setting
  5. How To Use ADO with Excel Data from Visual Basic or VBA

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