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SQL Server database interface (DBI) driver for R.

This is a DBI-compliant SQL Server driver based on the .NET Framework Data Provider for SQL Server; System.Data.SqlClient.


The .NET Framework Data Provider for SQL Server (SqlClient) uses its own protocol to communicate with SQL Server. It's lightweight and performs well because it's optimized to access a SQL Server directly without adding an OLE DB or Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) layer. For this reason, rsqlserver outperforms other R packages that rely on ODBC or JDBC layers. If you're using R to interact with SQL Server using large volumes of data and speed matters then rsqlserver is the answer!


rsqlserver is currently available on GitHub for Windows, Linux and macOS users. That said, Linux and macOS users are only able to make use of the package with some workarounds to the usual setup procedure.

The package's interoperability of R and .NET code is provided by the rClr package and unfortunately this package is currently only building on Windows and Mono 3.x (which is several years old) and therefore causing problems for macOS and Linux users.

Due to the cross-platform functionality of Docker containers, it is now possible to install the package in a container on any system.

Local Installation

Available for Windows and Linux (with patched rClr)

Windows users can install a pre-compiled binary of rClr and Linux users will be able to install a patched source of rClr by using an out-dated version of Mono.

  1. Install rClr (See below)

  2. Install rsqlserver from GitHub


For macOS users, Mono 3.12.1 is able to be installed on newer OS X releases however the rClr build is not functioning properly. At the time of writing, the author of rClr is working on refreshing the package to work on newer versions of Mono which may hopefully resolve this issue.


Available for Windows, Linux and macOS

The package can be installed on Windows, Linux and macOS via a provided Docker container which also includes an installation of SQL Server 2017. This is the best option for creating a reproducible environment for using the package that is accessible on all platforms and functions the same way regardless of the underlying system.

  1. Install Docker for Mac or Windows

  2. Go to Docker > Preferences and increase the supplied memory to at least 4GB and "Apply & Restart". This is in order to run the SQL Server container otherwise it won't even start up.

  3. Open a Terminal with the repository as the working directory and follow the instructions

The bcp and sqlcmd tools are also now available for macOS and Docker.

If you just want to connect to a Docker instance of SQL Server from your local Mac without rsqlserver then follow these instructions.

To install the necessary ODBC drivers without rsqlserver and connect with the RODBC package then follow this wiki.

Installing rClr


The easiest option is to download a pre-compiled binary rather than try and install from source.

  1. Install Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4. rsqlserver uses the .NET framework SDK to build a small C# project. Typically if your machine has the program "C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\MSBuild.exe", you can skip this step.

  2. Install Visual C++ Redistributable Packages for Visual Studio.

  3. Download rClr 0.7-4. (New binary versions will appear in the GitHub releases. CodePlex is being decommissioned so the rClr 0.7-4 binary is available here if the source version won't install).

install.packages("path/to/", repos = NULL, type = "source")


A workaround for installing the package on Linux is to downgrade the installed version of Mono to 3.12.1 using this script prior to building rClr as the package currently doesn't work on Mono 4.x or later.

Once you have done this, test that the version of Mono is correct. If you see a version number other than 3.12.1 then the installation was unsuccessful.

$ mono -V
# Mono JIT compiler version 3.12.1 (tarball Fri Mar  6 19:12:47 UTC 2015)
# Copyright (C) 2002-2014 Novell, Inc, Xamarin Inc and Contributors.
# 	TLS:           __thread
# 	SIGSEGV:       altstack
# 	Notifications: epoll
# 	Architecture:  amd64
# 	Disabled:      none
# 	Misc:          softdebug
# 	LLVM:          supported, not enabled.
# 	GC:            sgen

You can now install rClr from GitHub:


Depending on your distribution this may throw errors with the compilation of the C++ code. If you run into a similar issue as listed here then try this patched fork:



rsqlserver presents many features:

  • Easy connection to SQL server using DBI-compliant drivers.
  • Fastest method for loading large delimited text files (>1million rows) and R objects into SQL Server tables or views using dbBulkCopy and pulling data back down into R data.frames (See benchmarking below)
  • Use a Trusted Connection with the server. (Windows only).
  • dbSendQuery for querying the database; low level functions using pure SQL statements.
  • Full DBI compliance via support of higher level convenience functions such as dbReadTable, dbWriteTable and dbRemoveTable.
  • dbTransaction, dbCommit and dbRollback for Transaction management. (TBA)
  • dbCallProc for Stored Procedure calls. (TBA)
  • Many other DBI extensions such as dbGetScalar and dbGetNoQuery
  • dbParameter to handle Transact-SQL named parameters. This will provide better type checking and improve performance. (TBA)


See the rsqlserver wiki page on benchmarking performance versus two other drivers; RODBC and RJDBC.


I want to thank Jean-Michel Perraud the author of rClr package.


Sql Server driver database interface (DBI) driver for R. This is a DBI-compliant Sql Server driver based on the System.Data.SqlClient.



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