Daniel Calbimonte

Compare and synchronize images between two SQL Server databases

March 11, 2016 by


Sometimes we lose data by mistake and we want to compare the data with older backups and synchronize the data.

There are several ways to do this. For example, you can create T-SQL scripts with some outer joins. Another option is to use the tablediff command line.

The problem is that you need to create code or work for each single table. To solve this problem, there is a tool named ApexSQL Data Diff that allows you to quickly compare all tables from a database with the other database, report the differences and synchronize the data.


  • A SQL Server installed (check which editions are supported by ApexSQL Data Diff here)
  • ApexSQL Data Diff
  • SQL Server Data Tools
  • SQL Server Reporting Services

Getting started

In this tutorial, we will show 2 topics:

  • How to compare and synchronize simple data from 2 databases
  • How to compare and synchronize and check a blog column (images)

How to compare and synchronize simple data from 2 databases

In the first example, we have a table named HumanResourses.Department2. We have 2 databases. Adventureworks2014 and Adventureworks2014backup. In the Adventureworks2014, there is an extra column inserted. We are going to compare all the tables from both databases and check the differences.

  1. On the Desktop or in the start menu, open the ApexSQL Data Diff.

    Figure 1. ApexSQL Data Diff direct access

  2. You can access Recent projects or you can create a new one, by pressing the New button:

    Figure 2. Project management

  3. Choose the connection properties and select the databases to compare. ApexSQL Data Diff compares all the tables in the database:

    Figure 3. The connection information

  4. The software will load the metadata. It will check the names of the objects that match and finally the data will be compared:

    Figure 4. Comparing data

  5. In this example, the software detected a difference in the HumanResources.Department2 table. 1 row is missing in the Adventureworks2014backup database. That is why the number of rows is 17 in one database and 16 in another.

    The report also says the data of the missing row:
    17, graphic design, Sales and Marketing, modified date.

    Figure 5. The Results grid

  6. If you check the Department2 table in the Adventureworks2014 database in SSMS, you will see the extra row:

    Figure 6. The extra row in one of the databases

  7. You can save the current project with the Save button:

    Figure 7. The Save button

  8. The current project, with its set options, can be saved and stored in a file with .axdd extension. Saving a project can come in handy if the same settings and data sources are used often, so it can be loaded anytime, rather than setting up everything each time its needed:

    Figure 8. Exporting results

  9. You can export the results to HTML, CSV and Excel format:

    Figure 9. Exporting options

  10. When you export, you will have the options to select what you want to see. You can choose which objects you want to export (different or equal), include the data comparison options, information on objects to export and include the rows that are different:

    Figure 10. Report options

  11. In the HTML report, you can see the source database, the destination database, the creation date of the report and the options. By default, it does not compare BLOB, ROWGUIDCOL columns and timestamp columns:

    Figure 11. The ApexSQL Data Diff options

  12. You will also be able to see a report similar to the one in the Figure 5:

    Figure 12. The HTML report

  13. Once you read and analyze the differences, you can synchronize your data with the Synchronize button:

    Figure 13. The Synchronization wizard

  14. You can change the synchronization direction in the first step of the Synchronization wizard. The destination database is the database that we want to update with the data of the source database:

    Figure 14. Synchronization direction

  15. By clicking on the arrow, you can switch the source and destination:

    Figure 15. Switching source and destination direction

    In our example, we will use the Adventureworks2014 as the source and Adventureworks2014Backup as the destination.

  16. Once the synchronization direction is set, we can generate the script to synchronize the data in Internal editor or to perform direct synchronization:

    Figure 16. The options to process the synchronization.

  17. The software will show the actions to be executed. In this example, a new row will be inserted in the destination database. Press the Create script button:

    Figure 17. The Actions to synchronize

  18. The script contains the T-SQL code that will synchronize the destination database. You can manually modify if you believe it is necessary or you can just check the code:

    Figure 18. The synchronization code

  19. To execute the code and apply it, run the Execute icon:

    Figure 19. Executing the code

  20. The final Wizard window will show if the execution was successful or not:

    Figure 20. Execution results

  21. The software can optionally check again if there are differences once the script is applied:

    Figure 21. New comparison

  22. You can also check in the Adventureworks2014Backup database that the new row was added successfully.

    Figure 22. The new row added

As you can see, synchronizing 2 databases is very easy. This tool synchronizes data, if you want to compare objects, you can use the ApexSQL Diff.

Many people ask if the software can compare BLOB columns like pictures. The following example will show how to synchronize images in SQL Server with ApexSQL Data Diff.

How to compare and synchronize and check BLOB columns (images).

The next example will show how to compare and synchronize images stored in a SQL table. We will also check the image updated using the Reporting Services.

  1. The first step is to go to the ApexSQL Data Diff application and uncheck the Ignore BLOB columns option under the Options tab in the New project window. This will allow the comparison of BLOB columns (which are ignored by default):

    Figure 23. Options tab

  2. In this example, we are going to create 1 table in each database named myimage. This table will store images:

  3. We will store two different images on the tables just create. The first image is smileyface.jpg which will be stored in the Adventureworks2014 database.

    Figure 24. The smiley picture

  4. The second picture named sadface.jpg will be stored in the Adventureworks2014Backup database.

    Figure 25. The sad face

  5. In the Adventureworks2014, insert the smileyface.jpg.

  6. In the Adventureworks2014Backup, insert the sadface.jpg.

  7. The procedure to compare is the same as in the first example from step 1 until 5. As you can see, the software detects that the images are different:

    Figure 26. The data comparison of BLOB columns (images)

  8. Select the synchronization direction so that the AdventureWorks2014 database is set as the source and the AdventureWorks2014Backup as the destination. This synchronization will change the sad face to a smiley face (the typical happy end):

    Figure 27. The Synchronization of source and destination

  9. If you synchronize and check the code as we did from steps 13 to 18 in the example one, we will be able to see the following code:

    Figure 28. The synchronization code

  10. To visualize the image you can use SQL Server Reporting Services.

  11. In the SQL Services Data Tools, go to File>New Project and select the Report Server Wizard:

    Figure 29. Creating a new project

  12. Press the edit button to select the SQL Server name, and the database. In this example, we want to see if the Adventureworks2014Backup database image stored was changed successfully using the ApexSQL Data Diff software:

    Figure 30. The SQL Server Credential

  13. Specify the query to the table with the image:

    Figure 31. The Query used in the report

  14. I will not explain each window wizard. If you have problems to generate a report, you can read our article about reporting services. Once the report is done, drag and drop the image from the Toolbox to the report:

    Figure 32. Adding images to the report

  15. In the image properties, in the select image source, select Database. In the use this field: select the column with the image. The MIME type will allow selecting the extension of the image

    Figure 33. Image properties

  16. Select the image and go to properties. In the sizing, select AutoSize. This will help to show the image in an appropriate size:

    Figure 34. Image properties

  17. Select the previous tab. As you can see, the sad face was changed to a smiley face using the ApexSQL Data Diff. As promised, we had a happy conclusion.


In this article, we learned how to compare the data between two databases. We also learned how to compare images stored in SQL Server. As you can see, the comparison and synchronization is a straightforward process even when we work with BLOB columns (images), ROWGUIDCOL, or other special columns. If you need to compare SQL objects, use ApexSQL Diff.

Daniel Calbimonte
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About Daniel Calbimonte

Daniel Calbimonte is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, Microsoft Certified Trainer and Microsoft Certified IT Professional for SQL Server. He is an accomplished SSIS author, teacher at IT Academies and has over 13 years of experience working with different databases. He has worked for the government, oil companies, web sites, magazines and universities around the world. Daniel also regularly speaks at SQL Servers conferences and blogs. He writes SQL Server training materials for certification exams. He also helps with translating SQLShack articles to Spanish View all posts by Daniel Calbimonte