Solutions for INSERT OR UPDATE on SQL Server

Assume a table structure of MyTable(KEY, datafield1, datafield2...).

Often I want to either update an existing record, or insert a new record if it doesn’t exist.

Essentially:

IF (key exists)
  run update command
ELSE
  run insert command

What’s the best performing way to write this?


Answer

don’t forget about transactions. Performance is good, but simple (IF EXISTS..) approach is very dangerous.
When multiple threads will try to perform Insert-or-update you can easily
get primary key violation.

To avoid deadlocks and PK violations you can use something like this:

begin tran
if exists (select * from table with (updlock,serializable) where key = @key)
begin
   update table set ...
   where key = @key
end
else
begin
   insert into table (key, ...)
   values (@key, ...)
end
commit tran

or

begin tran
   update table with (serializable) set ...
   where key = @key

   if @@rowcount = 0
   begin
      insert into table (key, ...) values (@key,..)
   end
commit tran

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