|In the case in question, there was no need to get the actual data, the only question was if there were any rows returned.
In that case you could do with a different approach -
my $sql = "SELECT count(*) FROM table WHERE .... ";
This query will return a single row containing the count of matching rows (row count) in the table. I believe this is the most efficient and portable way to determine the number of rows, and the fastest too.
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