Conventional Path Load

Conventional path load (the default) uses the SQL INSERT statement and a bind array buffer to load data into database tables.

When SQL*Loader performs a conventional path load, it competes equally with all other processes for buffer resources. This can slow the load significantly. Extra overhead is added as SQL statements are generated, passed to Oracle Database, and executed.

Oracle Database looks for partially filled blocks and attempts to fill them on each insert. Although appropriate during normal use, this can slow bulk loads dramatically.

Conventional Path Load of a Single Partition

By definition, a conventional path load uses SQL INSERT statements. During a conventional path load of a single partition, SQL*Loader uses the partition-extended syntax of the INSERT statement, which has the following form:


The SQL layer of the Oracle kernel determines if the row being inserted maps to the specified partition. If the row does not map to the partition, then the row is rejected, and the SQL*Loader log file records an appropriate error message.

When to Use a Conventional Path Load

If load speed is most important to you, then you should use direct path load because it is faster than conventional path load. However, certain restrictions on direct path loads may require you to use a conventional path load. You should use a conventional path load in the following situations:

  • When accessing an indexed table concurrently with the load, or when applying inserts or updates to a nonindexed table concurrently with the load

    To use a direct path load (except for parallel loads), SQL*Loader must have exclusive write access to the table and exclusive read/write access to any indexes.

  • When loading data into a clustered table

    A direct path load does not support loading of clustered tables.

  • When loading a relatively small number of rows into a large indexed table

    During a direct path load, the existing index is copied when it is merged with the new index keys. If the existing index is very large and the number of new keys is very small, then the index copy time can offset the time saved by a direct path load.

  • When loading a relatively small number of rows into a large table with referential and column-check integrity constraints

    Because these constraints cannot be applied to rows loaded on the direct path, they are disabled for the duration of the load. Then they are applied to the whole table when the load completes. The costs could outweigh the savings for a very large table and a small number of new rows.

  • When loading records and you want to ensure that a record is rejected under any of the following circumstances:

    • If the record, upon insertion, causes an Oracle error

    • If the record is formatted incorrectly, so that SQL*Loader cannot find field boundaries

    • If the record violates a constraint or tries to make a unique index non-unique