Using the ODBC Driver

Establishing Connection in an ODBC Application

To establish a connection to Exasol through an ODBC driver, you can use any of the following two ODBC functions:

  • SQLConnect()
  • SQLDriverConnect()


In this method, you can choose a DSN entry and define user and password.

Example call

          (SQLCHAR*)"exa_test", SQL_NTS,
          (SQLCHAR*)"sys", SQL_NTS, 
          (SQLCHAR*)"exasol", SQL_NTS);


In this method, you have following two options:

  • Choose a DSN entry of the odbc.ini file.
  • Choose a driver from the odbcinst.ini file.

In both of the above options, a connection string is used to define further options. For more information, see Connecting through Connection Strings.

Example call

                connection_handle, NULL,
                (SQLCHAR*)"DSN=exa_test;UID=sys;PWD=exasol", SQL_NTS, 
                 NULL, 0, NULL, SQL_DRIVER_NOPROMPT);

                           connection_handle, NULL, 
                           "DRIVER={Exasol Driver};EXAHOST=;UID=sys;PWD=exasol" 
                           SQL_NTS, NULL, 0, NULL, SQL_DRIVER_NOPROMPT);

Connecting through Connection Strings

A connection function has multiple key-value pairs. The driver manager then loads the correct driver and hands over the necessary parameters.

The data of the connection string have higher priority than the values of the odbc.ini file on Linux/Unix systems or the configuration of the data source on Windows systems.

An example of a connection string to connect to Exasol is given below.

			DRIVER={Exasol Driver};EXAHOST=;UID=sys;PWD=exasol

The supported keys are described in the following table.

Keys Description

Defines the servers and the port of the Exasol cluster (for example, If host names are specified there, they can have DNS entries with multiple IP addresses.

When opening a connection, the driver randomly chooses an address from the specified address range. If the connection fails, the driver will continue to try all other possible addresses.

Instead of an IP range, you can also define a comma-separated list of host:port pairs. For example,

  • myhost:8563: Single server with name myhost and port 8563.
  • myhost1,myhost2:8563: Two servers with port 8563.
  • myhost1..4:8563: Four servers (myhost1, myhost2, myhost3, myhost4) and port 8563.
  • Four servers from to and port 8563.

Instead of a list you can also specify a file that contains a list (for example, //c:\mycluster.txt). The two slashes ("/") indicate that a filename is specified.

EXAUID or UID Username for the login. UID is automatically removed from the connection string by some applications.
EXAPWD or PWD Password of user. PWD is automatically removed from the connection string by some applications.
EXASCHEMA Schema that is opened directly after the connection.

Log file for the driver.


  • Depending on the log mode, the size of the log file can be huge. This is not recommended in productive environment.
  • Do mention that the log file can possibly contain sensitive data (SQL commands and data).

Specifies the mode for the log file. The following options are available:

  • DEFAULT: Logs the most important function calls and SQL commands.
  • VERBOSE: Logs additional data about internal process steps and result data.
  • ON ERROR ONLY: Logs only in case of an error.
  • DEBUGCOMM : Extended logs for analyzing the client/server communication (similar to VERBOSE, but without the data and parameter tables).
  • None: No logging of data.

Principal name of the Kerberos service. If nothing is specified, the name exasol is used as default.


Host name of the Kerberos service. If nothing is specified, the host name of the parameter EXAHOST is used as default.


Switches on the automatic encryption. Valid values are Y and N, and the default value is Y.


Autocommit mode of the connection. Valid values are Y and N, and the default value is Y.


Defines the query timeout in seconds for a connection. If set to 0, the query timeout is deactivated. The default is value 0.


The maximum time (in milliseconds) the driver waits to establish a TPC connection to a server. This timeout is required to limit the overall login time especially in case of a large cluster with several reserve nodes. The default value is 2000.


Enables the execution of queries even if the limit for active sessions (executing a query) is reached. Valid values are Y and N, and the default is N.


  • Only the SYS user can set the parameter.
  • superconnection should only be used in case of significant performance problems where it is impossible to log in and execute queries within a reasonable time. By that parameter you can analyze the system and kill certain processes which cause the problem

Prepare always successful: SQLPrepare and SQLPrepareW always return SQL_SUCCESS. Valid values are Y and N, and the default is N.


Maximum size for VARCHAR parameters in prepared statements, even if the determined data type was bigger. Use value 0 for deactivating. The default is 0.


Default size for VARCHAR parameters in prepared statements whose type cannot be determined at prepare time. The default is 2000.


If you want to use the Exasol ODBC driver in combination with Cognos, we recommend to set on this option to Y. The default is N.


Sets LC_CTYPE to the given value during the connection. Here are some examples:

  • Windows: deu or eng.
  • Linux/Unix: de_DE or en_US". You can also set an encoding, for example, en_US.UTF- 8.

Sets LC_NUMERIC to the given value during the connection. Here are some examples:

  • Windows: deu or eng.
  • Linux/Unix: de_DE or en_US.

Defines whether the ODBC driver considers all the schemas or just the current schema for metadata like the list of columns or tables. The valid values are Y and N and the default is N.


Defines whether the ODBC driver returns empty strings for NULL strings when reading table data

Note: The database internally doesn't distinguish between NULL and empty strings and returns in both cases NULL values to the driver.

The valid values are Y and N, and the default is N.


If you switch on this option, then DECIMAL types without scale will be returned as SQL_INTEGER ( 9 digits) or SQL_BIGINT ( 18 digits) instead of SQL_DECIMAL.

The valid values are Y and N, and the default is N.


If an Exasol ODBC DSN is configured using odbcconf.exe, you can use parameter SILENT to stop showing the Exasol ODBC configuration dialog.

To enable this option add SILENT=Y to the DSN parameter.


The parameter activates the mapping for ODBC SQL states received for errors. To enable this, set .SQLSTATEMAPPINGACTIVE=Y

The default mapping string is given below.


SQLSTATEMAPPINGS The parameter specifies a mapping state for SQL states. It is used only if SQLSTATEMAPPINGACTIVE value is set as Y. If the value is set, the new values are used first and then the default values.
SNAPSHOTTRANSACTIONS The parameter enables the snapshot transaction in a connection. The default value for the parameter is N. Set the parameter to Y to enable the snapshot transaction in a connection.

Supported Standards

The driver supports ODBC 3.5 standard (core level).

The following features are not supported:

  • "Positioned update/delete" and "batched updates/deletes" (SQLSetPos)
  • Asynchronous execution
  • Bookmarks

If the rowcount of a query exceeds 2147483647 (231-1), the ODBC driver will return the value 2147483647 for the function SQLRowCount(). This is because of the 32-bit limitation for this return value defined by the ODBC standard.

Support for Character Sets

Internally, the ODBC driver uses the unicode character set UTF-8. Other character set input data is converted to UTF-8 and transferred to Exasol. Data from Exasol is converted by the ODBC driver into the character set which is specified on the client site.

On Windows servers the data which is sent to the ODBC driver should be in an encoding which is installed locally. You can specify the encoding through the language settings of the connection.

On Linux/Unix servers, you can set the encoding through environment variables. For example, to set the German language and the encoding UTF-8 in the console, you can use the command exportLC_CTYPE=de_DE.utf8. For graphical applications, a wrapper script is recommended.

It is important that the used encoding is installed on your system. You can identify the installed encoding through the command locale -a.

Best Practices

Objective Details

Reading big data volumes

Do not use SQLGetData, instead use SQLBindCol and SQLFetch

To get the best performance, try to fetch about 50-100 MB of data by choosing the number of rows per SQLFetch.

Inserting data into the database

Instead of using single insert statements like INSERT INTO t VALUES 1, 2, ..., use more efficient interface of prepared statements and their parameters. Prepared statements achieve optimal performance when using parameter sets between 50 and 100 MB.

Moreover, insert the data by using the native data types. For example, for number 1234 use SQL_C_SLONG (Integer) instead of SQL_CHAR ("1234").

Autocommit mode

You should deactivate the autocommit mode on Windows systems only through the method SQLSetConnectAttr() and not in the data source settings.

If you deactivate in the data source setting, the windows driver manager doesn't notice this change and assumes that autocommit is switched on and doesn't pass SQLEndTran() calls to the database. This behavior could lead to problems.

Problems using the localization attributes

If the settings CONNECTIONLCCTYPE or CONNECTIONLCNUMERIC do not work, the connect function will return SQL_SUCCESS_WITH_INFO and a corresponding text is added in DiagRec.