Friday, October 21, 2011

SQL SERVER – DATEDIFF – Accuracy of Various Dateparts

I recently received the following question through email and I found it very interesting so I want to share it with you.

“Hi Pinal,

In SQL statement below the time difference between two given dates is 3 sec, but when checked in terms of Min it says 1 Min (whereas the actual min is 0.05Min)

SELECT DATEDIFF(MI,'2011-10-14 02:18:58' , '2011-10-14 02:19:01') AS MIN_DIFF

Is this is a BUG in SQL Server ?”

Answer is NO.

It is not a bug; it is a feature that works like that. Let us understand that in a bit more detail. When you instruct SQL Server to find the time difference in minutes, it just looks at the minute section only and completely ignores hour, second, millisecond, etc. So in terms of difference in minutes, it is indeed 1.

The following will also clear how DATEDIFF works:

SELECT DATEDIFF(YEAR,'2011-12-31 23:59:59' , '2012-01-01 00:00:00') AS YEAR_DIFF

The difference between the above dates is just 1 second, but in terms of year difference it shows 1.

If you want to have accuracy in seconds, you need to use a different approach. In the first example, the accurate method is to find the number of seconds first and then divide it by 60 to convert it to minutes.

SELECT DATEDIFF(second,'2011-10-14 02:18:58' , '2011-10-14 02:19:01')/60.0 AS MIN_DIFF

Even though the concept is very simple it is always a good idea to refresh it. Please share your related experience with me through your comments.
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