What Is The Preferred Join Operator in SQL Server?

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017, TSQL
I schedule many of my blog posts at least 2-3 weeks out, so I have time to adjust them, change, them, insert new things into the schedule, what have you. So, as you read this, I'll have written it at least two weeks ago. As I write this, I'm recovering from a very mild, but irritating, cold. I needed to write a blog post, but my stuffed head wasn't coming up with ideas. So, I half-jokingly asked Twitter for any execution plan questions so I could write something. First response, also a joke, was the question at the title of this post: What is the preferred operator when joining tables: Hash Match, Nested Loops or Merge? While my immediate response to this question is, yes. Meaning, they're all preferred, situationally.…
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Why Aren’t You Using SSMS 17?

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017
Last fall, Microsoft split the coding and release of SQL Server Management Studio away from any dependency on the server code. With that, they began an aggressive and exciting series of releases with exciting new functionality in each release. However, you don't care. How do I know? I've seen the telemetry that shows that most of you are still using old versions of SSMS. I want to know why. Please, post comments below so I can understand. Why You Should Move to SSMS 17 There are a ton of reasons for you to make the move. The least of which is bug fixes are coming hot and fast. The more exciting things are the ability to compare execution plans or the new Extended Events sessions that look just like those…
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Execution Plans and the GDPR

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017
What? Execution plans and the GDPR? Is this it? Have I completely lost it? Well, no, not on this topic, keep reading so I can defend myself. GDPR and Protected Data The core of the GDPR is to ensure the privacy and protection of a "natural person's" information. As such, the GDPR defines what personal data is and what processing means (along with a bunch of additional information). It all comes down to personally identifying (PI) data, how you store it, and how you process it. More importantly, it's about the right for the individual, the natural person, to control their information, up to and including the right to be forgotten by your system. OK. Fine. And execution plans? Execution Plans and PI Data If you look at an execution…
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Every Single Execution Plan is an Estimated Plan

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017
All the execution plans are estimated plans. All of them. There fundamentally isn't any such thing as an "Actual" plan. Where Do You Get Execution Plans? There are a lot of sources for execution plans. You can capture them using extended events (or, if you must, trace). You can capture them through the Management Studio gui. You can also capture them from the SQL Operations Studio gui. You can query the cache through the DMVs and pull them in that way. You can look at plans in query store. All these resources, yet, for any given query, all the plans will be identical (assuming no recompile at work). Why? Because they're all the same plan. Each and every one of them is an estimated plan. Only an estimated plan. This…
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Execution Plan Metrics and Units of Measure

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017
Have you ever looked at the properties inside an execution plan and wondered what the units of measure were? I know I have. I also get the question pretty frequently about all sorts of properties. What does EstimatedAvailableMemoryGrant display it's units in anyway? For that matter, what the heck is an EstimatedAvailableMemoryGrant? Showplan Schema and Units of Measure The answer to those questions and a whole lot more is pretty easy to find. You just have to look to the ShowPlan Schema. Microsoft has all the schema's published, going back to 2005. The next time you're faced with a question such as, what are the units of measure of the MemoryGrantInfo: Or, what the heck is SerialDesiredMemory and why is it exactly matching RequestedMemory, you just have to go and…
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Why I Use AdventureWorks for Demos

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017
I know that when some people see AdventureWorks, their vision turns all red around the edges, their blood pressure spikes and they begin to foam at the mouth. I do understand. AdventureWorks, Microsoft's very old, near ubiquitous, sample database suffers from a lot off issues. What's The Matter With AdventureWorks? Let's start off with the general design of the schemas. It's broken up in odd ways. Production has a TransactionHistory and a TransactionHistoryArchive instead of Sales? That doesn't make any sense. What the heck is up with the general database design anyway? I mean, pick on one example. A person can have more than one phone number. Fine. But, what about people who share phone numbers like that ancient land line in my house that is only EVER used by…
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Database Fundamentals #15: Modifying Data With T-SQL

Database Fundamentals, SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017
The preferred method for modifying your data within a database is T-SQL. While the last Fundamentals post showed how to use the GUI to get that done, it's not a very efficient mechanism. T-SQL is efficient. UPDATE The command for updating information in your tables is UPDATE. This command doesn’t work the same way as the INSERT statement. Instead of listing all the columns that are required, meaning columns that don’t allow for NULL values, you can pick and choose the individual columns that you want to update. The operation over-writes the information that was stored in the column with new information. In addition to defining the table and columns you want to update, you have to tell SQL Server which rows you’re interested in updating. This introduces the WHERE…
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Bad Parameter Sniffing Decision Flow Chart

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016
Lots of people are confused by how to deal with bad parameter sniffing when it occurs. In an effort to help with this, I'm going to try to make a decision flow chart to walk you through the process. This is a rough, quite rough, first draft. I would love to hear any input. For this draft, I won't address the things I think I've left out. I want to see what you think of the decision flow and what you think might need to be included. Click on it to embiggen. Thanks to the attendees at my SQLSaturday Louisville pre-con for the great questions and the inspiration to get this done. Thank you in advance for any and all feedback.
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There Is a Magic Button, a Rant

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, TSQL
OK guys. I think it's way past time. A bunch of us have been keeping a secret from the rest of you. We know something that you don't. I don't think we should hide this secret from the world any more. Illuminati? Incompetents. Free Masons? I am one, so I already know all those secrets. Bilderbergers, Cthulhu Cultists, MKUltra, New World Order, Rotarians? All of these are nothing compared to the vast conspiracy that I'm about to reveal. We need to just unveil the magic "Run Really Fast" button. We've been keeping that sucker a secret forever. It's been tough. Every so often some unauthorized person almost finds it or a "query tuning expert" (as if that was a real thing) tries to reveal it. But we've kept it secret…
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Why You Should Change the Cost Threshold for Parallelism

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016
I've written several times about the Cost Threshold for Parallelism and it's relationship to your execution plans, how to determine your execution plan cost, and even how to decide what value to set your Cost Threshold to. What I haven't explicitly addressed in extremely clear terms is why you should adjust your Cost Threshold for Parallelism. There are two reasons to modify this value. Cost Threshold for Parallelism Default Value The primary reason to change the Cost Threshold for Parallelism is because the default value is not a good choice for the vast majority of systems. The default value is 5. This means that when a query has an estimated cost greater than 5, it may get a parallel execution plan. Microsoft set the default value for the Cost Threshold…
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