How can foreign key constraints be temporarily disabled using T-SQL?

Are disabling and enabling foreign key constraints supported in SQL Server? Or is my only option to drop and then re-create the constraints?


Answer

If you want to disable all constraints in the database just run this code:

-- disable all constraints
EXEC sp_MSforeachtable "ALTER TABLE ? NOCHECK CONSTRAINT all"

To switch them back on, run: (the print is optional of course and it is just listing the tables)

-- enable all constraints
exec sp_MSforeachtable @command1="print '?'", @command2="ALTER TABLE ? WITH CHECK CHECK CONSTRAINT all"

I find it useful when populating data from one database to another. It is much better approach than dropping constraints. As you mentioned it comes handy when dropping all the data in the database and repopulating it (say in test environment).

If you are deleting all the data you may find this solution to be helpful.

Also sometimes it is handy to disable all triggers as well, you can see the complete solution here.

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