Reinforcing the Importance of Statistics on Row Estimate

SQL Server, SQL Server 2016, T-SQL
I recently wrote an introductory post about the importance of statistics. I just received a reinforcement on how important they are during my own work. Bad Estimate I hit a weird problem while I was setting up a query to illustrate a point (blog to be published next week). Let's take the basis of the problem and explain it. I wanted data with distribution skew, so I ran this query to find out if there was a wide disparity between the top and bottom of the range: [crayon-5c9cab2568a4c532402235/] Sure enough, the bottom of the range returned three (3) rows and the top returned 21,551. If I then run a query to retrieve just a few rows like this: [crayon-5c9cab2568a5c585469993/] I get the following execution plan: I'm happy because this is the…
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Stored Procedures Are Not Faster Than Views

SQL Server, SQL Server 2016, T-SQL
A performance tuning tip I saw recently said, "Views don't perform as well as stored procedures." <sigh> Let's break this down, just a little. Definitions A view is nothing but a query. The definition given by Microsoft is that it's a virtual table that's defined by a query. It's a query that is used to mask data or perform a complex join or similar behaviors. Views are queries that get stored in the database. Views can be easily referred to as if they were a tables. That's it. I've written in the past about views, including how they can possibly perform poorly. A stored procedure is also a query, or a series of queries, or, a whole lot more. Microsoft's definition of a stored procedure basically defines it as programming object that can accept input through…
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A Sub-Query Does Not Hurt Performance

SQL Server, SQL Server 2016, T-SQL
The things you read on the internet, for example, "don't use a sub-query because that hurts performance." Truly? Where do people get these things? Let's Test It I've written before about the concept of cargo cult data professionals. They see one issue, one time, and consequently extrapolate that to all issues, all the time. It's the best explanation I have for why someone would suggest that a sub-query is flat out wrong and will hurt performance. Let me put a caveat up front (which I will reiterate in the conclusion, just so we're clear), there's nothing magically good about sub-queries just like there is nothing magically evil about sub-queries. You can absolutely write a sub-query that performs horribly, does horrible things, runs badly, and therefore absolutely screws up your system. Just as…
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SELECT * Does Not Hurt Performance

SQL Server, SQL Server 2016, T-SQL
I read all the time how SELECT * hurts performance. I even see where people have said that you just have to supply a column list instead of SELECT * to get a performance improvement. Let's test it, because I think this is bunkum. The Test I have here two queries: [crayon-5c9cab257ab56445715783/] I'm basically going to run this a few hundred times each from PowerShell. I'll capture the executions using Extended Events and we'll aggregate the results. The Results I ran the test multiple times because, funny enough, I kept seeing some disparity in the results. One test would show a clear bias for one method, another test would show the opposite. However, averaging the averages we see that things broke down as follows: * 167.247ms Column List 165.500ms That's after about…
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Statistics Are Vital For Query Performance

SQL Server, SQL Server 2016
This is post #10 supporting  Tim Ford’s (b|t) initiative on #iwanttohelp, #entrylevel. Read about it here. When you send a query to your SQL Server database (and this applies to Azure SQL Database, APS, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse), that query is going to go through a process known as query optimization. The query optimization process figures out if you can use indexes to assist the query, whether or not it can seek against those indexes or has to use a scan, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The primary driving force in making these decisions are the statistics available on the indexes and on your tables. What Are Statistics Statistics are a mathematical construct to represent the data in your tables. Instead of scanning through the data each and every…
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Correlated Datetime Columns

SQL Server, SQL Server 2016, T-SQL
SQL Server is a deep and complex product. There's always more to learn. For example, I had never heard of Correlated Datetime Columns. They were evidently introduced as a database option in SQL Server 2005 to help support data warehousing style queries (frequently using dates and times as join criteria or filter criteria). You can read up on the concept here from this older article from 2008 on MSDN. However, doing a search online I didn't find much else explaining how this  stuff worked (one article here, that didn't break this down in a way I could easily understand). Time for me to get my learn on. The concept is simple, turning this on for your database means that dates which have a relationship, the example from MSDN uses OrderDate and…
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Query Store and What Happened Earlier On Your Server

SQL Server 2016, T-SQL
Here's a great question I received: We had a problem at 9:02 AM this morning, but we're not sure what happened. Can Query Store tell us? My first blush response is, no. Not really. Query Store keeps aggregate performance metrics about the queries on the database where Query Store is enabled. Aggregation means that we can't tell you what happened with an individual call at 9:02 AM... Well, not entirely true. The aggregations that Query Store keeps are actually broken up into intervals that you can control. The default interval is 60 minutes. This means that the information stored in the DMV covers sets of intervals. This means that if, at 9:02AM, you had a query, or queries, that ran considerably longer than normal, you may be able to take a look…
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Query Store and Plan Forcing: What Do You Use It For

SQL Server 2016, T-SQL
If you're working with Azure SQL Database or you've moved into SQL Server 2016, one of the biggest new tools is the Query Store. It provides a mechanism of capturing query performance over time and persisting it with the database. You also get the execution plans for those queries. Finally, you can choose to have the Query Store override execution plan selection by use of Plan Forcing. I've written about Query Store a few times: Query Store, Force Plan and "Better" Plans Query Store, Force Plan and Dropped Objects Precedence Goes to Query Store or Plan Guide Query Store, Forced Plans and New Plans Query Store and Optimize For Ad Hoc Query Store and Recompile Finding Your Query in Query Store Removing All Query Store Data Monitor Query Performance OK,…
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The Clustered Index Is Vital To Your Database Design

Azure, SQL Server, SQL Server 2016
This is post #9 supporting  Tim Ford’s (b|t) initiative on #iwanttohelp, #entrylevel. Read about it here. You get one clustered index per table. That bears repeating, you get one clustered index per table. Choosing a clustered index is an extremely important and fundamental aspect of all your SQL Server work. The one clustered index that you get determines how the data in your table is stored. Because the clustered index determines how your data is stored, it also determines how your data is retrieved. Much of SQL Server is engineered around the clustered index because it is such a foundational object for the rest of all behavior. Without a clustered index, the data in your table is stored in what is called a heap. It is essentially a pile, a heap, of data,…
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Query Store, Force Plan and “Better” Plans

SQL Server 2016, T-SQL
I am endlessly fascinated by how the Query Store works. I love teaching it at every opportunity too. Plus, almost every time I teach it, I get a new question about the behavior that makes me delve into the Query Store just a little bit more, enabling me to better understand how it works. I received just such a question at SQLSaturday Norway: If you are forcing a plan, and the physical structure changes such that a "better" plan is possible, what happens with plan forcing? Let's answer a different question first. What happens when the plan gets invalidated, when the index being used gets dropped or some other structural change occurs so that the plan is no longer valid? I answered that question in this blog post. The plan…
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