Favourite performance tuning tricks

Question :

Favourite performance tuning tricks,

Answer :

When you have a query or stored procedure that needs performance tuning, what are some of the first things you try?


Here is the handy-dandy list of things I always give to someone asking me about optimisation.
We mainly use Sybase, but most of the advice will apply across the board.

SQL Server, for example, comes with a host of performance monitoring / tuning bits, but if you don’t have anything like that (and maybe even if you do) then I would consider the following…

99% of problems I have seen are caused by putting too many tables in a join. The fix for this is to do half the join (with some of the tables) and cache the results in a temporary table. Then do the rest of the query joining on that temporary table.

Query Optimisation Checklist

  • Run UPDATE STATISTICS on the underlying tables
    • Many systems run this as a scheduled weekly job
  • Delete records from underlying tables (possibly archive the deleted records)
    • Consider doing this automatically once a day or once a week.
  • Rebuild Indexes
  • Rebuild Tables (bcp data out/in)
  • Dump / Reload the database (drastic, but might fix corruption)
  • Build new, more appropriate index
  • Run DBCC to see if there is possible corruption in the database
  • Locks / Deadlocks
    • Ensure no other processes running in database
      • Especially DBCC
    • Are you using row or page level locking?
    • Lock the tables exclusively before starting the query
    • Check that all processes are accessing tables in the same order
  • Are indices being used appropriately?
    • Joins will only use index if both expressions are exactly the same data type
    • Index will only be used if the first field(s) on the index are matched in the query
    • Are clustered indices used where appropriate?
      • range data
      • WHERE field between value1 and value2
  • Small Joins are Nice Joins
    • By default the optimiser will only consider the tables 4 at a time.
    • This means that in joins with more than 4 tables, it has a good chance of choosing a non-optimal query plan
  • Break up the Join
    • Can you break up the join?
    • Pre-select foreign keys into a temporary table
    • Do half the join and put results in a temporary table
  • Are you using the right kind of temporary table?
    • #temp tables may perform much better than @table variables with large volumes (thousands of rows).
  • Maintain Summary Tables
    • Build with triggers on the underlying tables
    • Build daily / hourly / etc.
    • Build ad-hoc
    • Build incrementally or teardown / rebuild
  • See what the query plan is with SET SHOWPLAN ON
  • See what’s actually happenning with SET STATS IO ON
  • Force an index using the pragma: (index: myindex)
  • Force the table order using SET FORCEPLAN ON
  • Parameter Sniffing:
    • Break Stored Procedure into 2
    • call proc2 from proc1
    • allows optimiser to choose index in proc2 if @parameter has been changed by proc1
  • Can you improve your hardware?
  • What time are you running? Is there a quieter time?
  • Is Replication Server (or other non-stop process) running? Can you suspend it? Run it eg. hourly?
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The answers provided above are only to be used to guide the learning process. The questions above are open-ended questions, meaning that many answers are not fixed as above. I hope this article can be useful, Thank you