SQL GETDATE is a crucial function in SQL Server that returns the current system date and time, which is a vital aspect of database management and data retrieval operations. This function serves multiple purposes, from helping in tracking changes in the database to assisting in debugging and auditing.

Key Takeaways:
  • Understanding the fundamental syntax and usage of GETDATE.
  • Insights into practical examples and common use cases of GETDATE.
  • Performance considerations when using GETDATE in your queries.

Understanding GETDATE

Definition and Usage

GETDATE is a non-deterministic function that returns the current database system date and time. This function is highly useful in SQL Server operations as it helps in managing and tracking data effectively. The syntax of GETDATE is quite straightforward, making it easy to use even for beginners in SQL.



The above query will return the current date and time in the ‘YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss.mmm’ format.


SQL GETDATE and CURRENT_TIMESTAMP are often used interchangeably as they serve similar purposes. However, there are subtle differences between them. For instance, GETDATE is specifically used in SQL Server, while CURRENT_TIMESTAMP is the ANSI SQL standard.

Here are some notable differences:

  • Functionality: Both functions return the current date and time, but in slightly different formats.
  • Compatibility: CURRENT_TIMESTAMP is more portable across different SQL databases compared to GETDATE.

Datetime Value Derivation

The datetime value returned by GETDATE is derived from the operating system (OS) of the server on which the instance of SQL Server is running. This implies that the returned datetime value reflects the current system timestamp without the database time zone offset.

Working with GETDATE

Practical Examples

Working with GETDATE is relatively straightforward. Below are some practical examples demonstrating the use of GETDATE in SQL Server:

Example 1: Getting the Current Date and Time

--Query to get the current date and time
SELECT GETDATE() AS CurrentDateTime;

Example 2: Formatting the Current Date

--Query to format the current date in MM/DD/YYYY format

Common Use Cases:
  • Timestamping Records: GETDATE is often used for timestamping records whenever they are created or updated.
  • Scheduling Tasks: It’s also used in scheduling tasks within the database, ensuring they run at the correct time.
  • Calculating Durations: By comparing the values returned by GETDATE at different points in time, you can calculate durations.

Common Errors and How to Avoid Them

While working with GETDATE, some common errors might arise. For instance, incorrect syntax or misuse of the function within your queries can lead to unexpected results. It’s vital to understand the syntax and usage of GETDATE to avoid such issues.

Performance Considerations

Understanding the performance implications of using SQL GETDATE is crucial for optimizing your SQL queries. When used within views and expressions, the query optimizer might face challenges in obtaining accurate cardinality estimates, which in turn could slow down your queries.

Advanced Usage of GETDATE

Combining with Other Date-Time Functions

GETDATE is not just a standalone function but can be combined with other date-time functions to achieve more complex results. For instance, you can use GETDATE with functions like DATEADD, DATEDIFF, etc., to perform various date-time operations.

  • Finding the date 30 days from today:

  • Calculating the difference in days between two dates:

SELECT DATEDIFF(DAY, '2022-01-01', GETDATE()) AS DateDifference;

Formatting Options with GETDATE

The output format of GETDATE can be changed using the CONVERT function. This is useful when you need the date and time in a specific format.


-- Formatting the current date to MM/DD/YYYY format

Table: Common Formatting Codes for SQL GETDATE
Code Format Example
1 MM/DD/YY 07/21/23
101 MM/DD/YYYY 07/21/2023
3 DD/MM/YY 21/07/23
103 DD/MM/YYYY 21/07/2023

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the primary purpose of SQL GETDATE?

The primary purpose of SQL GETDATE is to return the current system date and time, which is useful for timestamping records, scheduling tasks, and calculating durations.

How can I format the output of SQL GETDATE?

The output of SQL GETDATE can be formatted using the CONVERT or FORMAT functions. For example, SELECT CONVERT(VARCHAR, GETDATE(), 101); will format the date in MM/DD/YYYY format.

5/5 - (7 votes)

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This