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The actual range and storage size of an INT

What’s the difference between INT(2) and INT(20) ? Not a lot. It’s about output formatting, which you’ll never encounter when talking with the server through an API (like you do from most app languages).

The confusion stems from the fact that with CHAR(n) and VARCHAR(n), the (n) signifies the length or maximum length of that field. But for INT, the range and storage size is specified using different data types: TINYINT, SMALLINT, MEDIUMINT, INT (aka INTEGER), BIGINT.

At Open Query we tend to pick on things like INT(2) when reviewing a client’s schema, because chances are that the developers/DBAs are working under a mistaken assumption and this could cause trouble somewhere – even if not in the exact spot where we pick on it. So it’s a case of pattern recognition.

A very practical example of this comes from a client I worked with last week. I first spotted some harmless ones, we talked about it, and then we hit …

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