How To Guides
How to Alter Sequence in SQL Server?

How to Alter Sequence in SQL Server?

SQL Server is a widely used database management system that allows users to store and retrieve data efficiently. In some cases, it may be necessary to alter the sequence of data in SQL Server. This article will guide you through the process of altering sequences in SQL Server, from understanding the basics to troubleshooting common errors. So let's dive in and explore the world of altering sequence in SQL Server!

Understanding the Basics of SQL Server Sequence

Before we delve into altering sequences in SQL Server, it is important to have a clear understanding of what a sequence is. In SQL Server, a sequence is an object that generates a sequence of numeric values based on specified parameters. It is commonly used to generate unique identifiers for records in a table. By altering a sequence, you can modify its values to suit your specific requirements.

What is SQL Server Sequence?

A SQL Server sequence is a user-defined object that generates a sequence of numeric values. It can be used to generate unique identifiers for tables, populate primary key fields, or any other scenario where a sequential number is required. Sequences are independent of tables and can be used across multiple tables in a database. They are similar to identity columns but offer more flexibility and control over the generated values.

Importance of Altering Sequence in SQL Server

Altering a sequence in SQL Server can be necessary for various reasons. For example, you may need to reset the sequence to a specific value or change the increment value. It can also be useful when you want to change the maximum or minimum values of the sequence or adjust its cycling behavior. By altering a sequence, you can fine-tune its behavior and align it with your specific business requirements.

Let's explore some practical scenarios where altering a sequence can be beneficial. Imagine you have a table that stores customer orders, and each order needs a unique order number. You can use a sequence to generate these order numbers automatically. However, what if you want to start the sequence from a specific number, such as 1000, instead of the default starting value of 1? By altering the sequence, you can easily set the starting value to 1000, ensuring that your order numbers align with your existing numbering system.

Another scenario where altering a sequence can be valuable is when you need to adjust the cycling behavior. By default, a sequence in SQL Server will cycle back to its minimum value once it reaches the maximum value. However, in some cases, you may want the sequence to stop generating values once it reaches the maximum value, instead of cycling back. By altering the sequence, you can disable cycling and ensure that the sequence stops generating values when it reaches the maximum value you have specified.

Preparing to Alter Sequence in SQL Server

Before jumping into altering a sequence in SQL Server, it is essential to make the necessary preparations. This ensures a smooth and error-free process. Let's take a look at the key considerations when preparing to alter a sequence.

Necessary Tools and Software

To alter a sequence in SQL Server, you'll need access to a database management tool such as SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) or a command-line interface like SQLCMD. These tools provide the necessary functionality to execute SQL commands and manage database objects. Ensure that you have the required permissions to alter sequences in the target database.

Safety Measures and Precautions

Before altering a sequence, it is crucial to take safety measures and precautions to avoid any unwanted consequences. Backup the database or the specific sequence you plan to alter to ensure you have a restore point in case anything goes wrong. Additionally, it is advisable to test the alteration on a non-production environment before applying it to a live database.

Now, let's delve deeper into the necessary tools and software you may need when altering a sequence in SQL Server. SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is a comprehensive database management tool that provides a user-friendly interface for managing and administering SQL Server databases. It allows you to execute SQL commands, create and modify database objects, and perform various administrative tasks.

On the other hand, if you prefer a command-line interface, SQLCMD is a powerful tool that allows you to interact with SQL Server using commands. It provides a flexible and efficient way to execute SQL scripts and automate database tasks. Whether you choose SSMS or SQLCMD, ensure that you have the necessary privileges and access rights to perform the sequence alteration.

When it comes to safety measures and precautions, backing up your database is of utmost importance. By creating a backup, you create a copy of your database at a specific point in time. This ensures that if anything goes wrong during the alteration process, you can easily restore the database to its previous state. It is recommended to perform regular backups to minimize the risk of data loss and ensure business continuity.

In addition to backing up the entire database, it is also advisable to back up the specific sequence you plan to alter. This allows you to have a targeted restore point in case the alteration affects only that particular sequence. By taking this precaution, you can isolate any potential issues and minimize the impact on other parts of the database.

Furthermore, it is highly recommended to test the alteration on a non-production environment before applying it to a live database. This allows you to validate the changes and identify any potential issues or conflicts before they impact the production environment. By testing in a controlled environment, you can ensure a smoother transition and minimize the risk of unexpected errors or disruptions.

Step-by-Step Guide to Alter Sequence in SQL Server

Now that you are well-prepared, let's dive into the step-by-step process of altering a sequence in SQL Server. Follow these instructions carefully to successfully modify the behavior of your sequence.

Identifying the Sequence to Alter

The first step in altering a sequence is identifying the specific sequence you want to modify. In SQL Server, you can find this information in the sys.sequences catalog view. Use the appropriate query to retrieve the details of the sequence you wish to alter, including its name, current values, and properties.

Executing the Alter Sequence Command

Once you have identified the sequence, it's time to execute the ALTER SEQUENCE command to make the necessary changes. This command allows you to modify various aspects of the sequence, such as its increment value, minimum and maximum values, and cycling behavior. Make sure to specify the new values as required and validate the syntax of your ALTER SEQUENCE statement.

Verifying the Changes

After executing the ALTER SEQUENCE command, it is essential to verify that the changes have been applied successfully. You can do this by querying the sys.sequences catalog view again and comparing the updated properties of the sequence with your intended modifications. Make sure to check that the sequence is generating the desired values and behaving as expected.

Common Errors and Troubleshooting

During the process of altering a sequence in SQL Server, you may encounter some common errors. Let's explore these errors and learn how to troubleshoot them effectively.

Dealing with Syntax Errors

One of the most common errors when altering a sequence is a syntax error in the ALTER SEQUENCE statement. To overcome this error, carefully review the syntax of your command, paying close attention to the order of keywords and proper placement of commas and semicolons. Double-check that you have used the correct ALTER SEQUENCE syntax for the version of SQL Server you are using.

Overcoming Permission Issues

Another common issue you may face when altering a sequence is related to permissions. Ensure that you have the necessary permissions to alter sequences in the target database. If you encounter a permission error, contact your database administrator to grant you the required privileges or elevate your user account to perform the alteration.

Best Practices for Altering Sequence in SQL Server

To ensure a smooth and efficient process of altering sequences in SQL Server, it is important to follow best practices. Let's explore some tips to help you achieve optimal results.

When to Alter Sequence

It is recommended to alter a sequence during a maintenance window or a period where the database activity is low. This minimizes the impact on ongoing transactions and reduces the chances of conflicts or errors. Additionally, make sure to communicate any planned alterations to the relevant stakeholders to avoid any unexpected consequences.

Tips for Efficient Sequence Alteration

When altering a sequence, consider the potential impact on related objects and dependent processes. Ensure that all applications and queries that rely on the sequence are updated to accommodate the alterations. It is also beneficial to test the impact of the altered sequence on performance to identify any potential bottlenecks or issues before rolling out the changes to a production environment.

By following these best practices, you can safely and effectively alter sequences in SQL Server, allowing you to better align the behavior of sequences with your business requirements.


Altering sequence in SQL Server is a powerful technique that allows you to customize the behavior of sequences to suit your specific needs. Understanding the basics of SQL Server sequence, preparing adequately, and following a step-by-step approach are key to successfully altering sequences. By troubleshooting common errors and adhering to best practices, you can achieve seamless sequence alterations and ensure optimal database performance.

We hope this article has provided you with a comprehensive guide on how to alter sequence in SQL Server. With this knowledge in hand, you can confidently modify sequences and harness the full potential of SQL Server for your data management needs.

New Release

Get in Touch to Learn More

See Why Users Love CastorDoc
Fantastic tool for data discovery and documentation

“[I like] The easy to use interface and the speed of finding the relevant assets that you're looking for in your database. I also really enjoy the score given to each table, [which] lets you prioritize the results of your queries by how often certain data is used.” - Michal P., Head of Data