Learn to use and configure the SQL Server FILESTREAM type to store text documents, images, and videos in a SQL Server table. The FILESTREAM type integrates the SQL Server Database Engine with an NTFS file system by storing varbinary(max) binary large object (BLOB) data as files on the file system. Transact-SQL statements can insert, update, query, search, and back up files.

Win32 file system interfaces provide streaming access to the data. This is an excellent solution for say, a web site that hosts video content.
FILESTREAM uses the NT system cache for caching file data. This helps reduce any effect that FILESTREAM data might have on Database Engine performance. The SQL Server buffer pool is not used; therefore, this memory is available for query processing.

When Should You Use FILESTREAM:

The size and use of the data determines whether you should use database storage or file system storage. If the following conditions are true, you should consider using FILESTREAM:

Objects that are being stored are, on average, larger than 1 MB.
Fast read access is important.
You are developing applications that use a middle tier for application logic.
For smaller objects, storing varbinary(max) BLOBs in the database often provides better streaming performance.

To enable and change FILESTREAM settings:

On the Start menu, point to All Programs, point to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, point to Configuration Tools, and then click SQL Server Configuration Manager.
In the list of services, right-click SQL Server Services, and then click Open.
In the SQL Server Configuration Manager snap-in, locate the instance of SQL Server on which you want to enable FILESTREAM.
Right-click the instance, and then click Properties.
In the SQL Server Properties dialog box, click the FILESTREAM tab.
Select the Enable FILESTREAM for Transact-SQL access check box.
If you want to read and write FILESTREAM data from Windows, click Enable FILESTREAM for file I/O streaming access. Enter the name of the Windows share in the Windows Share Name box.
If remote clients must access the FILESTREAM data that is stored on this share, select Allow remote clients to have streaming access to FILESTREAM data.
Click Apply.

In SQL Server Management Studio, click New Query to display the Query Editor.
In Query Editor, enter the following Transact-SQL code:
EXEC sp_configure filestream_access_level, 2
Click Execute.

To create a FILESTREAM-enabled database:

In SQL Server Management Studio, click New Query to display the Query Editor.
Copy the Transact-SQL code from the following example into the Query Editor. This Transact-SQL code creates a FILESTREAM-enabled database called MyVideos.

      NAME = MyVideosDB,
      FILENAME = 'C:\Databases\MyVideosDB.mdf'
      NAME = MyVideosFS,
    FILENAME = 'C:\Databases\MyVideosFS')
LOG ON (                        
      NAME = MyVideosLOG,
    FILENAME = 'C:\Databases\MyVideosLOG.ldf')
CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Items](
   [ItemNumber] VARCHAR(20),
   [ItemDescription] VARCHAR(50),


For the purpose of this example, let's use OPENROWSET(BULK..) to load the content of the video file (wmv) from the disk to a VARBINARY(MAX) variable. Once the content of the video is loaded to the variable, we can store it to the FILESTREAM enabled column. The code that does it:

-- Declare a variable to store the video data
-- Load the image data
SELECT @video= CAST(bulkcolumn AS VARBINARY(MAX))
            SINGLE_BLOB ) AS x          
-- Insert the data to the table           
INSERT INTO Items (ItemID, ItemNumber, ItemDescription, ItemImage)
SELECT NEWID(), 'MS1001','Horse Scene', @video

// sample data access code (C#)
//Create a connection to the database
String conStr;
conStr = "server=(local);database=myVideos;Integrated Security=SSPI";
SqlConnection con = new SqlConnection(conStr) ;
con.Open()  ;

'Retrieve the FilePath() of the image file
SqlCommand sqlCommand=new SqlCommand() ;
sqlCommand.Connection = con;
sqlCommand.CommandText = "SELECT ItemImage FROM items WHERE ItemNumber = 'MS1001'" ;
Byte[] buffer = sqlCommand.ExecuteScalar();  
MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream(buffer)  ;
// Stream the video to a control here


FILESTREAM storage is implemented as a varbinary(max) column in which the data is stored as BLOBs in the file system. The sizes of the BLOBs are limited only by the volume size of the file system. The standard varbinary(max) limitation of 2-GB file sizes does not apply to BLOBs that are stored in the file system.

To specify that a column should store data on the file system, specify the FILESTREAM attribute on a varbinary(max) column. This causes the Database Engine to store all data for that column on the file system, but not in the database file.

FILESTREAM data must be stored in FILESTREAM filegroups. A FILESTREAM filegroup is a special filegroup that contains file system directories instead of the files themselves. These file system directories are called data containers. Data containers are the interface between Database Engine storage and file system storage.

When you use FILESTREAM storage, remember the following:

When a table contains a FILESTREAM column, each row must have a nonnull unique row ID.
FILESTREAM data containers cannot be nested.
When you are using failover clustering, the FILESTREAM filegroups must be on shared disk resources.
FILESTREAM filegroups can be on compressed volumes.

Integrated Security
In SQL Server, FILESTREAM data is secured just like other data is secured: by granting permissions at the table or column levels. If a user has permission to the FILESTREAM column in a table, the user can open the associated files.

Integrated Management
Because FILESTREAM is implemented as a varbinary(max) column and integrated directly into the Database Engine, most SQL Server management tools and functions work without modification for FILESTREAM data. For example, you can use all backup and recovery models with FILESTREAM data, and the FILESTREAM data is backed up with the structured data in the database. If you do not want to back up FILESTREAM data with relational data, you can use a partial backup to exclude FILESTREAM filegroups.

Dual Programming Model to Access BLOB Data
After you store data in a FILESTREAM column, you can access the files by using Transact-SQL transactions or by using Win32 APIs.

Transact-SQL Access
By using Transact-SQL, you can insert, update, and delete FILESTREAM data:

You can use an insert operation to prepopulate a FILESTREAM field with a null value, empty value, or relatively short inline data. However, a large amount of data is more efficiently streamed into a file that uses Win32 interfaces.

When you update a FILESTREAM field, you modify the underlying BLOB data in the file system. When a FILESTREAM field is set to NULL, the BLOB data associated with the field is deleted. You cannot use a Transact-SQL chunked update, implemented as UPDATE.Write(), to perform partial updates to the data.

When you delete a row or delete or truncate a table that contains FILESTREAM data, you delete the underlying BLOB data in the file system.

File System Streaming Access
The Win32 streaming support works in the context of a SQL Server transaction. Within a transaction, you can use FILESTREAM functions to obtain a logical UNC file system path of a file. You then use the OpenSqlFilestream API to obtain a file handle. This handle can then be used by Win32 file streaming interfaces, such as ReadFile() and WriteFile(), to access and update the file by way of the file system.

Because file operations are transactional, you cannot delete or rename FILESTREAM files through the file system.

Statement Model
The FILESTREAM file system access models a Transact-SQL statement by using file open and close. The statement starts when a file handle is opened and ends when the handle is closed. For example, when a write handle is closed, any possible AFTER trigger that is registered on the table fires as if an UPDATE statement is completed.

Storage Namespace
In FILESTREAM, the Database Engine controls the BLOB physical file system namespace. A new intrinsic function, PathName, provides the logical UNC path of the BLOB that corresponds to each FILESTREAM cell in the table. The application uses this logical path to obtain the Win32 handle and operate on the BLOB data by using regular Win32 file system interfaces. The function returns NULL if the value of the FILESTREAM column is NULL.

Transacted File System Access
A new intrinsic function, GET_FILESTREAM_TRANSACTION_CONTEXT(), provides the token that represents the current transaction that the session is associated with. The transaction must have been started and not yet aborted or committed. By obtaining a token, the application binds the FILESTREAM file system streaming operations with a started transaction. The function returns NULL in case of no explicitly started transaction.

All file handles must be closed before the transaction commits or aborts. If a handle is left open beyond the transaction scope, additional reads against the handle will cause a failure; additional writes against the handle will succeed, but the actual data will not be written to disk. Similarly, if the database or instance of the Database Engine shuts down, all open handles are invalidated.

Transactional Durability
With FILESTREAM, upon transaction commit, the Database Engine ensures transaction durability for FILESTREAM BLOB data that is modified from the file system streaming access.

Write-Through from Remote Clients
Remote file system access to FILESTREAM data is enabled over the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. If the client is remote, no write operations are cached by the client side. The write operations will always be sent to the server. The data can be cached on the server side. We recommend that applications that are running on remote clients consolidate small write operations to make fewer write operations using larger data size.

Creating memory mapped views (memory mapped I/O) by using a FILESTREAM handle is not supported. If memory mapping is used for FILESTREAM data, the Database Engine cannot guarantee consistency and durability of the data or the integrity of the database.

Windows Logo Certification
The FILESTREAM RsFx driver is certified for Windows Server 2008 R2. For more information and catalog file download, see SQL Server 2008 R2 FileStream Driver Windows Logo Certification in the Microsoft Download Center.

Remote Blob Storage (RBS)

SQL Server Remote BLOB Store (RBS) is an optional add-on component that lets database administrators store binary large objects in commodity storage solutions instead of directly on the main database server.

RBS can be downloaded from the SQL Server 2008 R2 Feature Pack page. RBS is not included on the SQL Server 2008 R2 installation media, and is not installed by the SQL Server 2008 R2 Setup program.

RBS provides the following benefits:

Optimized database storage and performance
Storing BLOBs in the database can consume large amounts of file space and expensive server resources. RBS efficiently transfers the BLOBs to a dedicated storage solution of your choosing, and stores references to them in the database. This frees server storage for structured data, and frees server resources for database operations.

Efficient management of BLOBs
Several RBS features support the convenient management of stored BLOBs:

BLOBS are managed with ACID (atomic consistency isolation durable) transactions.
BLOBs are organized into collections.
Garbage collection, consistency checking, and other maintenance functions are included.

Standardized API
RBS defines a set of APIs that provide a standardized programming model for applications to access and modify any BLOB store. Each BLOB store can specify its own provider library, which plugs into the RBS client library and specifies how BLOBs are stored and accessed.

Download RBS:
RBS Samples:

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