Category Archives: Index

SQL Server: How Local Variables Can Reduce Query Performance

It’s a common practice by database developers to use local variables in stored procedures and scripts to place filter on basis of these local variables. YES, these local variables can slowdown your queries. Let’s prove it.
Create a new table and insert dummy rows.


      (tempID UNIQUEIDENTIFIER,tempMonth INT,tempDateTime DATETIME )

INSERT INTO TempTable (tempID, tempMonth, tempDateTime)

SELECT NEWID(),(CAST(100000*RAND() AS INT) % 12) + 1 ,GETDATE()
GO 100000 — (EXECUTE THIS BATCH 100000 TIME)

— Create an index to support our query

CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX[IX_tempDateTime] ON [dbo].[TempTable]
([tempDateTime] ASC)
Now let’s execute a simple query with hard coded values in WHERE clause


WHEREtempDateTime > ‘2012-07-10 03:18:01.640’
Table ‘TempTable’. Scan count 1, logical reads 80,physical reads 0, read-ahead reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.

Check out its execution plan and index seeks properties. You can find that estimated rows are double to actual rows but that’s not a big difference to affect execution plan and resultantly optimizer has selected a proper plan to execute this query.

Query optimizer has estimated number of rows from its base statistics histogram i.e.  EQ_ROWS + AVG_RANGE_ROWS (77 + 88.64286)

DBCC SHOW_STATISTICS (‘dbo.TempTable’, IX_tempDateTime)

Now, let’s modify our SELECT query and use local variable and execute it. You will find that query optimizer has selected a different plan this time, a more costly plan. WHY ??

SET@RequiredDate = ‘2012-07-10 03:18:01.640’

WHEREtempDateTime  >@RequiredDate
Table ‘TempTable’. Scan count 1, logical reads 481, physical reads 0, read-ahead reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.

Huge difference of estimated and actual number of rows clearly indicating that query optimizer was unable to proprly estimate number of rows and with this wrong estimation, it has selected a more costly execution plan. Basically Query Optimizer does not know the value of local variable at the time of optimization and resultantly can’t use histogram of statistics. It behaves differently with inequality and equality operators.

In Case of Inequality Operator:
In our case of inequality operator in query, query optimizer used a simple formula of 30% of total rows.

Estimated Rows =(Total Rows * 30)/100 = (100000*30)/100 = 30000

 In Case of Equality Operator:

SET@RequiredDate = ‘2012-07-10 03:18:01.640’

WHEREtempDateTime  =@RequiredDate

If equality operator is used with local variables, query optimizer gets estimated rows figure from a different formula i.e.  Density * Total Number of Table Rows. Execute following query to get density value.

DBCC SHOW_STATISTICS (‘dbo.TempTable’, IX_tempDateTime)

All Density = 0.0007358352

Total Number of Rows in Table = 100000
Estimated Rows = Density * Total Number =  0.0007358352 *  100000 = 73.5835

Drop table when not required


SQL Server: Script to Fix ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS Option for All indexes on All Databases

Recently we have found that our index defragmentationjob is failing on a production server, due to REORGANIZE   failure of one of our index. SQL Server was unable to REORGANIZE this index because mistakenly we have an index with the ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS options set to OFF
What is Page Lock Option?
According to BOL, If ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS option is set to ON, it means Page locks are allowed when accessing the index. The Database Engine determines when page locks are used.

If ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS  option is set to off following query will return an error.
ALTER INDEXIX_Address_AddressLine1_AddressLine2_City_StateProvinceID_PostalCode
ON Person.Address REORGANIZE

The index “IX_Address_AddressLine1_AddressLine2_City_StateProvinceID_PostalCode” (partition 1) on table “Address” cannot be reorganized because page level locking is disabled.

You can correct it by simply updating ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS option to ON with the help of following query

ALTER INDEXIX_Address_AddressLine1_AddressLine2_City_StateProvinceID_PostalCode
ON  Person.Address

To make sure to avoid this problem in futur for all datbases on a instance, Amna Asif has suggested following simple but efficient script to detect indexes with ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS option set to OFF and automatically fix this problem for all of your databases on an instance.


Script By: Amna Asif
Purpose : To fix ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS option on
                 all indexes of all databases on a particular instance


DECLARE@IndexCount int
DECLARE@UpdateIndexQuery Varchar(500)
— Table variable to hold intermediate result set
            DECLARE @IndexsInfo TABLE
            RowNo int identity(1,1),
            DatabaseName varchar(100),
            TableName varchar(100),
            IndexName varchar(100)
— Cursor to work on each changeable index of each db on an instance
      DECLARE DatabaseList CURSOR 
                    SELECT Name
                    FROM sys.databases
                    WHERE state_desc = ‘ONLINE’
                    AND is_read_only = 0
                    ORDER BY name
      OPEN DatabaseList
             FETCH NEXT FROM DatabaseList INTO@DBName
             WHILE @@FETCH_STATUS= 0
               INSERT INTO@IndexsInfo (DatabaseName,TableName,IndexName)
               EXEC(   SELECT ”’+@DBName+”’ AS DatabaseName,TABL.NAME AS TableName,indx.NAME AS IndexName     
                              FROM ‘+@DBName+‘.SYS.INDEXES indx
                              LEFT OUTER JOIN ‘+@DBName+‘.SYS.TABLES TABL ON indx.[OBJECT_ID]=TABL.[OBJECT_ID]
                              WHERE ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS = 0           — where page lock option is not selected
                              AND NOT LIKE ”QUEUE%”  — we need only user defined indices
            FETCH NEXT FROMDatabaseList INTO @DBName
            CLOSE DatabaseList
            DEALLOCATE DatabaseList
—–Update allow_page_locks option for those indexes where we need 
 SET@IndexCount=(SELECTMAX(RowNo) FROM @IndexsInfo )
      WHILE @IndexCount >0  
          SET @UpdateIndexQuery=(SELECT ‘ ALTER INDEX ‘+ IndexsInfo.IndexName +‘ ON [‘+
            SET (
                  ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS = ON
                  ) ; ‘
            FROM @IndexsInfo AS IndexsInfo
            WHERE IndexsInfo.RowNo=@IndexCount)
           SET @IndexCount=@IndexCount1

SQL Server 2012: A New More Flexible Create Index Dialog box

With every new version SQL Server is becoming morepower full yet more users friendly. Today, while creating index on SQL Server2012, I have found that Index Creation Dialog box is become more easy to use.
In prior versions, more irritating thing for me (atleast), was naming a non-clustered index. Now dialog box suggests you moremeaningful name. Secondly dialog box contains two tabs to add key columns andinclude columns.

In prior versions, a common error which I havealways faced is that key column can’t be listed as include column. 

Now in SQL Server 2012, Index Create Dialog box willautomatically disable check boxes for those columns which are already added askey columns. Similarly, if a column is already added as include column it willbecome disable on key column selection tab.

Remaining options are almost same to SQL Server R2, while COMPRESSION option is removed.

>SQL Server: Short Code Doesn’t Mean Smart Code


Recently a blog reader shared an interesting thing. This mail was basically in response to my early post Why to Avoid TRIM functions in WHERE and JOIN clauses,  where we have discussed, that why we should avoid functions (user defined or system) in where clause columns, because these functions in WHERE, JOIN and GROUP  clauses mislead query optimizer for proper index selection and ultimately results in poor query performance.
Blog reader asked that he tried to remove functions from WHERE clause of all the queries but few queries where date was involve, was hard to correct and after asking at some forum he got a solution and now his code is shorter and quicker.
Actual query was something like as following:
Use AdventureWorks
SET @FindDate = ‘2005/09/12 12:00:00
FROM    Purchasing.PurchaseOrderDetail
It’s an everyday query, where records from “Purchasing.PurchaseOrderDetail” table are required but where modifieddate column values are equal to given parameter (date). But comparison should be based on date only and time portion should be ignored.
Modified smart query :
FROM    Purchasing.PurchaseOrderDetail
WHERE   DATEDIFF(DD,ModifiedDate,@FindDate) = 0
Though new query is shorter, but is it quick? Let’s checkout input/output statistics, query time and execution plan for both quires.

Table ‘PurchaseOrderDetail’. Scan count 1, logical reads 66, physical reads 0
CPU time = 0 ms,  elapsed time = 11 ms.
Table ‘PurchaseOrderDetail’. Scan count 1, logical reads 66, physical reads 0
CPU time = 0 ms,  elapsed time = 9 ms
Though second query looks more smart but if we ignore minor difference of query elapsed time, both query are almost same as both queries are using clustered index scan and have same value of logical reads. Because problem still exists i.e. Function on WHERE clause columns. For best query performance we have to get rid of this DATEDIFF function too. Here is a better version, as per performance and not the code because our first priority should be performance.
FROM    Purchasing.PurchaseOrderDetail
WHERE   ModifiedDate >= CAST(
        AND ModifiedDate < = DATEADD(SS, 86399,
                                     CAST(CONVERT(VARCHAR(30), @FindDate, 101) AS DATETIME))
Query code is even more lengthy then first version but what about performance, lets check out input/output stats with query time.

Table ‘PurchaseOrderDetail’. Scan count 1, logical reads 4, physical reads 0
CPU time = 0 ms,  elapsed time = 1 ms.
From execution plan, it’s clear that after removing functions from modifieddate column (used in WHERE clause), query optimizer selected proper non clustered index, which searched only 4 pages for result and finally query performance is increased.

>SQL Server: How to Get All Indexes List With Involved Columns Name


Recently a friend of mine asked for a script, for documentation purpose which can help them to create all of their indexes list with column names used in each index. I thought, I must share this simple script with my blog readers.
SELECT  Tab.[name] AS TableName,
IND.[name] AS IndexName,
FROM    sys.[tables] AS T
INNER JOIN sys.[indexes] I
ON T.[object_id] = I.[object_id]
INNER JOIN sys.[index_columns] IC
ON I.[object_id] = IC.[object_id]
AND I.[index_id] = IC.[index_id]
INNER JOIN sys.[all_columns] AC
ON T.[object_id] = AC.[object_id]
AND IC.[column_id] = AC.[column_id]
WHERE   Ind.[object_id] = i.[object_id]
AND ind.index_id = i.index_id
ORDER BY IC.key_ordinal
), 2, 8000) AS COLS
FROM    sys.[indexes] Ind
INNER JOIN sys.[tables] AS Tab
ON Tab.[object_id] = Ind.[object_id]
ORDER BY TableName

>SQL Server: Why to Avoid TRIM functions in WHERE and JOIN clauses


Just creating indexes on JOIN, WHERE and GROUP clause columns doesn’t mean that your query will always return your required results quickly. It is query optimizer which selects proper index for a query to give you an optimum performance but query optimizer can only suggest optimum query plan by using proper indexes WHEN your are helping it by writing good query syntax.
Using any type of function (system or user defined) in WHERE or JOIN clause can dramatically decrease query performance because this practice create hurdles in query optimizer work of proper index selection. One common example is TRIM functions, which are commonly used by developers in WHERE clause.  For more understandings, let’s compare performance of two queries, one with TRIM function in WHERE clause and other one without TRIM functions.
USE AdventureWorks
SELECT pr.ProductID,pr.Name,pr.ProductNumber,wo.*  fROM Production.WorkOrder wo
INNER JOIN Production.Product pr
ON PR.ProductID = wo.ProductID
WHERE LTRIM(RTRIM( = ‘HL Mountain Handlebars’

SELECT pr.ProductID,pr.Name,pr.ProductNumber,wo.*  fROM Production.WorkOrder wo
INNER JOIN Production.Product pr
ON PR.ProductID = wo.ProductID
WHERE = ‘HL Mountain Handlebars’
Though outputs of both queries are same but first query took almost 99% of total execution time. This huge difference is just because of these trim functions so on production databases we must avoid these TRIM and other functions in both JOIN and WHERE clauses.

SQL Server: Small Tables’ Clustered Indexes Fragmentation

Recently, I have received a mail from my friend who was angry that, the defragmentation script that I have mentioned in my post Simple Method to Resolve All Indexes Fragmentation is not working properly, even he executed said script multiple times. sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats is still showing few tables with high fragmentation.
On further inquiry I found that, said tables are from setup schema and have small number of rows. And I just replied him that I am HAPPY that script is not working for these tables.
Actually, when we create a table and start inserting rows, SQL Server  initially allocates pages from mixed extents until it has enough data to deserve a full extent, then SQL Server will allocate a uniform extent to it. Similarly if you build an index on a table that have fewer then eight pages SQL Server will allocate pages from mixed extents for storing the index data. And if these mixed extents are not located side by side then database management view sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats will show HIGH external fragmentation. So no need to worry about fermentation of clustered index of small tables which have fewer then eight pages.

>SQL Server Community: Great Opportunity to Learn Indexes


Indexes are fundamental object and have high importance. That is why almost every forth or fifth post of SQL Server discuss different aspects of indexes. Recently David Durant  started a remarkable series with caption “Stairway to SQL Server Indexes”.
If you are interested, to learn ALL about indexes, you must follow this series of posts.

>SQL Server: Data Type DATETIME or Only DATE


SQL Server 2008 introduced a new data type “DATE” to store date data only. Before this we have only DATETIME data type which stores both date and time. I have observed that many database developers and DBAs still prefer DATETIME to store data, even for columns where they don’t need to store time. For example, to store date of birth we need only date, and not the time.
SELECT Emp_Name, Emp_SSN, Emp_DOB
FROM Employee
WHERE CONVERT(VARCHAR(20), Emp_DOB, 101) <= ’06/30/2005′
Problem occurs when we need to retrieve such data, and we need different conversion functions to separate date from time. And if such conversion functions are part of WHERE clause, then it prevents the optimizer from choosing the index on the column. Resultantly, a poor query performance, because indexes are not being used.
Simply select DATE data type for such columns, especially when you don’t need the time portion. Even, if most of queries use conversion functions to separate date or time. Save such data separately in two different columns with data type DATE and TIME respectively.

>SQL Server: Mind Your Search Conditions In WHERE Clause


An index operation on the columns(s) in WHERE clause, can be performed or not, depends upon your search conditions.
Rule is simple. Exclusion searches generally prevent the optimizer from using an index on the columns, referred to in the WHERE clause. While Inclusion search conditions are also helpful for SQL Server to perform index seek operations.
Though every time it is not possible, still when ever it is possible, try to avoid using exclusion search conditions.
Here is a list of both exclusion and inclusion search conditions.
Inclusion Search Conditions
Exclusion Search Conditions
LIKE operator with literal i.e. LIKE ‘literal%’
LIKE operator with  % sign first i.e. LIKE ‘%literal’