FB Utils  
FBCopy Manual


Firebird IBPP 

Tool for copying data between Firebird databases

FBCopy manual      [ main page ]

Usage: fbcopy {D|A|C|S}[E][N][H][F][K] {source} {destination}

Source and destination are given in format: user:password@host:database?charset
On Windows it doesn't allow you to have host named with one letter, so that the drives can be used. Consider C:\database.fdb or similar.

D    Define  (outputs a list of fields in format 1:2:3:4:)
A    Alter (outputs ALTER TABLE script for fields needed in destination)
C    Copy  (reads the definition file from stdin and does the copying)
S    Single step (compare&copy all tables in single step)
E    Everything in single transaction (default: Transaction per table)
K    Keep going (default = stop on first record that cannot be copied)
F    Fire triggers (default = temporary deactivate triggers)
N    Nulls  (used with A. Doesn't put NOT NULL in ALTER TABLE statements)
H    HTML output  (used with A or D. Outputs differences in HTML format for easier overview)

Definitions fields:
1 = table
2 = field_list_that_both_tables_have
3 = fieldlist_missing_in_destination
4 = fieldlist_extra_in destination

Usage and examples

The main idea behind FBCopy is that you have two databases and wish to copy data from one to another. These databases can have a different structure, so you should be careful which tables and fields to include in copy. Also, the data is referenced with foreign keys, so you want to be sure that the order of inserting is right. You might also have triggers that alter the data upon inserting, so you might need to disable them temporarily. FBCopy takes care of all these things so you don't make mistakes.

Examples use default sysdba/masterkey username and password, and copy data from database /dbases/employee.fdb to database /dbases/test.fdb.

Step1: Determine the differences between databases

fbcopy D sysdba:masterkey@localhost:/dbases/employee.fdb sysdba:masterkey@localhost:/dbases/test.fdb

If you have ISC_USER and ISC_PASSWORD environment variables, they will be used, so you can just type:

fbcopy D localhost:/dbases/employee.fdb localhost:/dbases/test.fdb

Also, if you wish, you can use direct connection on local server (or with embedded server):

fbcopy D /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb

The D command will output list of all tables in source database, in the following format:

table:list of columns common to both tables:list of columns missing in destination table: list of extra columns in destination (missing from source)

Columns are separated with commas, the output will look something like this:


You'll need to use this output as input for the actual copying (C option), so redirect it to some file:

fbcopy D /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb > file.def

Now, you can edit the .def file with some editor, remove tables (and fields) you don't want to copy. Also, inspect any differences you find, since you may need to update some of the databases manually. You can also add a where clause to the end of each row in .def file, like this:

COUNTRY:COUNTRY,CURRENCY::where country = 'Germany'

When doing copying, FBCopy only cares about three fields in input it gets:
  • first field (table name)
  • second field (list of table columns)
  • last field (optional where clause)
Therefore, you can simply write:

COUNTRY:COUNTRY,CURRENCY:where country = 'Germany'

You can also write definition files yourself, or use some other program to do it. They are simple textual files with colon separated fields.

When you just want to view the differences, you can also use HTML output which is much cleaner and easier to human eye. Just add H and redirect to some html file:

fbcopy DH /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb > differences.html

Then open the file in some browser and enjoy. You can also use H with A option (AH).
Examples: HTML output with D option, HTML output with A option.

Step2: Copy data

To copy the data, you need to send the definition file to FBCopy. It will read it, and copy all data according to it. FBCopy reads data from standard input, so you have to pass the file to it:

fbcopy C /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb < file.def

You can also use the pipes to send definition to FBCopy, example for Windows:

type file.def | fbcopy C /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb

For Linux:

cat file.def | fbcopy C /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb

For each line in definition (i.e. for each table), FBCopy starts transaction, creates INSERT and SELECT statements and copies the data. On any errors, the transaction is rolled back, so you're sure that either all data is copied to destination table or none. If you wish, you can run the entire copy (all tables) in a single transaction. To do that use the E switch:

fbcopy CE /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb < file.def

Sometimes you may wish to just copy some data, and don't care if some of it does not get copied. You just need to populate some tables, no matter is there are some records already there. During default operation, FBCopy would stop for each record that violates primary key, foreign key, or any other constraint. However, you can use option K to keep going and copy all data that can be copied, ignoring the records that can't:

fbcopy CK /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb < file.def

Single step: Define and copy at once

There are cases when you know that the databases are the same, and you just want to copy all data. This can happen, for example, when you have a subset of data into some temporary database, and you want to import all that into some master database. For this, use S switch:

fbcopy S /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb

Of course, you can use the piping to do it with D and C commands too, so S is really just a shortcut:

fbcopy d /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb | fbcopy c /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb

Additional feature: Building the ALTER TABLE and CREATE TABLE script

Sometimes, you wish to copy data, but you're missing some fields in some tables of destination database. You need to add them, but it's a lot of work: loading some admin. tool, determine column types, and add to destination. FBCopy can do this hard work for you.

fbcopy A /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb > changes.sql

This will output a regular .sql script with ALTER TABLE statements to add fields. Also, for tables missing in destination, it will create CREATE TABLE statements. It only creates datatype, not-null option and primary keys. If you have checks, foreign keys, indices, triggers, or something else on those tables, you have to create it manually (This may be improved in future versions of FBCopy).

When you get a ALTER TABLE statement, there is a chance that you already have some data in destination database. So, adding a NOT NULL column can be a problem. Therefore, there is an option N, to avoid NOT NULLs for ALTER TABLE statements:

fbcopy AN /dbases/employee.fdb /dbases/test.fdb > changes.sql

If you have any suggestions or remarks, please contact me.

Copyright © Milan Babuškov 2005. (e-mail)

fb banner
  Firebird Home Page Copyright 2002 - 2005.