OPTIMIZE FOR Hints When Parameter Sniffing is Turned Off

Azure, SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, TSQL
While presenting recently and talking about dealing with bad Parameter Sniffing, I got the question; what happens to OPTIMIZE FOR hints when parameter sniffing is disabled? This is my favorite kind of question because the answer is simple: I don't know. Parameter Sniffing For those who don't know, parameter sniffing is when SQL Server uses the precise values passed into a query as a parameter (this means stored procedures or prepared statements) to generate an execution plan from the statistics using the value from the parameter. Most of the time, parameter sniffing is either helping you, or is not hurting you. Sometimes, parameter sniffing turns bad and hurts you quite severely. Usually, but not always, this is because you either have severely skewed data (some data is very different than the rest, lots…
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