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Execute a Stored Procedure

This topic describes how to execute a stored procedure in SQL Server 2012 by using SQL Server Management Studio or Transact-SQL.

There are two different ways to execute a stored procedure. The first and most common approach is for an application or user to call the procedure. The second approach is to set the procedure to run automatically when an instance of SQL Server starts. When a procedure is called by an application or user, the Transact-SQL EXECUTE or EXEC keyword is explicitly stated in the call. Alternatively, the procedure can be called and executed without the keyword if the procedure is the first statement in the Transact-SQL batch.

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Limitations and Restrictions

  • The calling database collation is used when matching system procedure names. Therefore, always use the exact case of system procedure names in procedure calls. For example, this code will fail if it is executed in the context of a database that has a case-sensitive collation:

    EXEC SP_heLP; -- Will fail to resolve because SP_heLP does not equal sp_help
    

    To display the exact system procedure names, query the sys.system_objects and sys.system_parameters catalog views.

  • If a user-defined procedure has the same name as a system procedure, the user-defined procedure might not ever execute.

Recommendations

  • Executing System Stored Procedures

    System procedures begin with the prefix sp_. Because they logically appear in all user- and system- defined databases, they can be executed from any database without having to fully quality the procedure name. However, we recommend schema-qualifying all system procedure names with the sys schema name to prevent name conflicts. The following example demonstrates the recommended method of calling a system procedure.

    EXEC sys.sp_who;
    

  • Executing User-defined Stored Procedures

    When executing a user-defined procedure, we recommend qualifying the procedure name with the schema name. This practice gives a small performance boost because the Database Engine does not have to search multiple schemas. It also prevents executing the wrong procedure if a database has procedures with the same name in multiple schemas.

    The following example demonstrates the recommended method to execute a user-defined procedure. Notice that the procedure accepts one input parameter. For information about specifying input and output parameters, see Specify Parameters.

    USE AdventureWorks2012;
    GO
    EXEC dbo.uspGetEmployeeManagers @BusinessEntityID = 50;
    

    -Or-

    EXEC AdventureWorks2012.dbo.uspGetEmployeeManagers 50;
    GO
    

    If a nonqualified user-defined procedure is specified, the Database Engine searches for the procedure in the following order:

    1. The sys schema of the current database.

    2. The caller's default schema if it is executed in a batch or in dynamic SQL. Or, if the nonqualified procedure name appears inside the body of another procedure definition, the schema that contains this other procedure is searched next.

    3. The dbo schema in the current database.

  • Executing Stored Procedures Automatically

    Procedures marked for automatic execution are executed every time SQL Server starts and the master database is recovered during that startup process. Setting up procedures to execute automatically can be useful for performing database maintenance operations or for having procedures run continuously as background processes. Another use for automatic execution is to have the procedure perform system or maintenance tasks in tempdb, such as creating a global temporary table. This makes sure that such a temporary table will always exist when tempdb is re-created during SQL Server startup.

    A procedure that is automatically executed operates with the same permissions as members of the sysadmin fixed server role. Any error messages generated by the procedure are written to the SQL Server error log.

    There is no limit to the number of startup procedures you can have, but be aware that each consumes one worker thread while executing. If you must execute multiple procedures at startup but do not need to execute them in parallel, make one procedure the startup procedure and have that procedure call the other procedures. This uses only one worker thread.

    Tip Tip

    Do not return any result sets from a procedure that is executed automatically. Because the procedure is being executed by SQL Server instead of an application or user, there is nowhere for the result sets to go.

  • Setting, Clearing, and Controlling Automatic Execution

    Only the system administrator (sa) can mark a procedure to execute automatically. In addition, the procedure must be in the master database, owned by sa, and cannot have input or output parameters.

    Use sp_procoption to:

    1. Designate an existing procedure as a startup procedure.

    2. Stop a procedure from executing at SQL Server startup.

Security

For more information, see EXECUTE AS (Transact-SQL) and EXECUTE AS Clause (Transact-SQL).

Permissions

For more information, see the "Permissions" section in EXECUTE (Transact-SQL).

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To execute a stored procedure

  1. In Object Explorer, connect to an instance of the SQL Server Database Engine, expand that instance, and then expand Databases.

  2. Expand the database that you want, expand Programmability, and then expand Stored Procedures.

  3. Right-click the user-defined stored procedure that you want and click Execute Stored Procedure.

  4. In the Execute Procedure dialog box, specify a value for each parameter and whether it should pass a null value.

    Parameter

    Indicates the name of the parameter.

    Data Type

    Indicates the data type of the parameter.

    Output Parameter

    Indicates if this is an output parameter.

    Pass Null Value

    Pass a NULL as the value of the parameter.

    Value

    Type the value for the parameter when calling the procedure.

  5. To execute the stored procedure, click OK.

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To execute a stored procedure

  1. Connect to the Database Engine.

  2. From the Standard bar, click New Query.

  3. Copy and paste the following example into the query window and click Execute. This example shows how to execute a stored procedure that expects one parameter. The example executes the uspGetEmployeeManagers stored procedure with the value 6 specified as the @EmployeeID parameter.

USE AdventureWorks2012;
GO
EXEC dbo.uspGetEmployeeManagers 6;
GO

To set or clear a procedure for executing automatically

  1. Connect to the Database Engine.

  2. From the Standard bar, click New Query.

  3. Copy and paste the following example into the query window and click Execute. This example shows how to use sp_procoption to set a procedure for automatic execution.

USE AdventureWorks2012;
GO
EXEC sp_procoption @ProcName = '<procedure name>' 
    , @OptionName = ] 'startup' 
    , @OptionValue = 'on';

To stop a procedure from executing automatically

  1. Connect to the Database Engine.

  2. From the Standard bar, click New Query.

  3. Copy and paste the following example into the query window and click Execute. This example shows how to use sp_procoption to stop a procedure from executing automatically.

USE AdventureWorks2012;
GO
EXEC sp_procoption @ProcName = '<procedure name>' 
    , @OptionValue = 'off';

Example (Transact-SQL)

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