Sometimes when you have a big DataSet with elaborated relationships you might get the following error when trying to add or load data into the dataset:
Failed to enable constraints. One or more rows contain values violating non-null, unique, or foreign-key constraints

Some of the causes for this error are usually “regular” violations of the foreign-key constraints, which means you are referencing a certain key that does not exist in the parent table. If that is the case, you can check this article on MSDN that explains a bit on how to resolve these issues.

If you are still having problems with your dataset and ADO.NET code, you might just want to try this little trick.
It appears that inside a DataRow there is a property called RowError.

RowError is a string value that can be set or read in numerous other occasions, but the situation in which I encountered was due to a bad relationship that was added on a table which caused the code to throw an exception at runtime. In that case the RowError property hold the exact name of the troublesome relationship.

So, how do you access it?
When you code at runtime throws an exception and you are with a debugger attached, check the following thing using the “immediate window” or Quickwatch:


Don’t forget to replace “myDataSet” with the variable name of your dataset and “YourTableName” with the table that is (probably) causing the problems.

In the case I’ve described above, this property told me exactly what is the problematic foreign-key that I had and from there I figured out what is the problematic relationship.

  • Ross

    Also, if you’re unsure which table or row is causing the error, you can inspect tables with the HasError property or the GetErrors() method:

    ….. here’s the error ….

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  • /*

    I expanded upon your quick note to help find the bug easier. Thank you very much, I found my more specific error details. I am on my way to solving this issue.

    // Your access to the dataset that is throwing the error
    catch (ConstraintException ex)


    // this reveals the ConstraintException error details for debugging
    foreach (DataRow row in yourDatasetNameHere.Tables[“YourTableNameHere”].Rows)
    string errorString = row.RowError;
    if (!String.IsNullOrEmpty(errorString))
    // this is error(s)
    errorString = errorString;


  • GREAT!!!!
    It helped me to find a f*** error i had !!

  • Jim Evans

    Brilliant – this solved my problem instantly having puzzled over the obscure constraint exception for an hour.

  • Craig Guest

    Thanks so much for this. I had an error in a huge enterprise system and was super confused trying to identify the offending constraint using the data set designer. I found your article, popped your example in to the intermediate window and found my issue straight away. Thank you so so much for writing about this, now I can go home and enjoy my weekend without worrying!

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  • name

    thank you!!!! you saved me!!!!!!!

  • You are most welcome!