SQL Server Performance Tuning

You can improve your SQL Server application performance by optimizing the queries you use. The following sections outline techniques you can use to optimize query performance.
  • SQL Architecture and Memory
  • Table and Index Structure
  • Performance Tools and Monitoring
  • Locking and Concurrency
  • Query Optimization
  • Programming Efficiency
  • Resource Governor
  1. Improve Indexes

    Creating useful indexes is one of the most important ways to achieve better query performance. Useful indexes help you find data with fewer disk I/O operations and less system resource usage.

    To create useful indexes, you much understand how the data is used, the types of queries and the frequencies they are run, and how the query processor can use indexes to find your data quickly.As with most performance optimization techniques, there are tradeoffs.

    For example, with more indexes, SELECT queries will potentially run faster. However, DML (INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE) operations will slow down significantly because more indexes must be maintained with each operation. Therefore, if your queries are mostly SELECT statements, more indexes can be helpful. If your application performs many DML operations, you should be conservative with the number of indexes you create.
    • Create Highly-Selective Indexes
    • Create Multiple-Column Indexes
    • Avoid Indexing Small Tables

  2. Choose What to Index

    We recommend that you always create indexes on primary keys. It is frequently useful to also create indexes on foreign keys. This is because primary keys and foreign keys are frequently used to join tables. Indexes on these keys lets the optimizer consider more efficient index join algorithms. If your query joins tables by using other columns, it is frequently helpful to create indexes on those columns for the same reason.

    When primary key and foreign key constraints are created, SQL Server Compact 3.5 automatically creates indexes for them and takes advantage of them when optimizing queries. Remember to keep primary keys and foreign keys small. Joins run faster this way.

    • Use Indexes with Filter Clauses

    Indexes can be used to speed up the evaluation of certain types of filter clauses. Although all filter clauses reduce the final result set of a query, some can also help reduce the amount of data that must be scanned.

  3. Use the Query Optimizer

    When determining the access methods for base tables, the SQL Server Compact 3.5 optimizer determines whether an index exists for a SARG clause. If an index exists, the optimizer evaluates the index by calculating how many rows are returned. It then estimates the cost of finding the qualifying rows by using the index. It will choose indexed access if it has lower cost than table scan. An index is potentially useful if its first column or prefix set of columns are used in the SARG, and the SARG establishes a lower bound, upper bound, or both, to limit the search.

  4. Understand Response Time vs. Total Time

    Response time is the time it takes for a query to return the first record. Total time is the time it takes for the query to return all records. For an interactive application, response time is important because it is the perceived time for the user to receive visual affirmation that a query is being processed. For a batch application, total time reflects the overall throughput. You have to determine what the performance criteria are for your application and queries, and then design accordingly.

    For example, suppose the query returns 100 records and is used to populate a list with the first five records. In this case, you are not concerned with how long it takes to return all 100 records. Instead, you want the query to return the first few records quickly, so that you can populate the list.

    • Index the ORDER-BY / GROUP-BY / DISTINCT Columns for Better Response Time

    The ORDER-BY, GROUP-BY, and DISTINCT operations are all types of sorting. The SQL Server Compact 3.5 query processor implements sorting in two ways. If records are already sorted by an index, the processor needs to use only the index. Otherwise, the processor has to use a temporary work table to sort the records first. Such preliminary sorting can cause significant initial delays on devices with lower power CPUs and limited memory, and should be avoided if response time is important.

  5. Rewrite Subqueries to Use JOIN

    Sometimes you can rewrite a subquery to use JOIN and achieve better performance. The advantage of creating a JOIN is that you can evaluate tables in a different order from that defined by the query. The advantage of using a subquery is that it is frequently not necessary to scan all rows from the subquery to evaluate the subquery expression. For example, an EXISTS subquery can return TRUE upon seeing the first qualifying row.

    • Limit Using Outer JOINs

    OUTER JOINs are treated differently from INNER JOINs in that the optimizer does not try to rearrange the join order of OUTER JOIN tables as it does to INNER JOIN tables. The outer table (the left table in LEFT OUTER JOIN and the right table in RIGHT OUTER JOIN) is accessed first, followed by the inner table. This fixed join order could lead to execution plans that are less than optimal.

  6. Use Parameterized Queries

    If your application runs a series of queries that are only different in some constants, you can improve performance by using a parameterized query. For example, to return orders by different customers, you can run the following query:

    SELECT "Customer ID" FROM Orders WHERE "Order ID" = ?

    Parameterized queries yield better performance by compiling the query only once and executing the compiled plan multiple times.

  7. Query Only When You Must

    The SQL Server Compact 3.5 query processor is a powerful tool for querying data stored in your relational database. However, there is an intrinsic cost associated with any query processor. It must compile, optimize, and generate an execution plan before it starts doing the real work of performing the plan. This is particularly true with simple queries that finish quickly. Therefore, implementing the query yourself can sometimes provide vast performance improvement. If every millisecond counts in your critical component, we recommend that you consider the alternative of implementing the simple queries yourself. For large and complex queries, the job is still best left to the query processor.

    For example, suppose you want to look up the customer ID for a series of orders arranged by their order IDs. There are two ways to accomplish this. First, you could follow these steps for each lookup:
    Open the Orders base table
    Find the row, using the specific "Order ID"
    Retrieve the "Customer ID"
Or you could issue the following query for each lookup:

SELECT "Customer ID" FROM Orders WHERE "Order ID" = <the specific order id>

The query-based solution is simpler but slower than the manual solution, because the SQL Server Compact 3.5 query processor translates the declarative SQL statement into the same three operations that you could implement manually. Those three steps are then performed in sequence. Your choice of which method to use will depend on whether simplicity or performance is more important in your application.