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July 2011, Vol. 6

The most dangerous game: Hunting down bad SQL query performance

Once you’ve fine-tuned your databases’ indexes, maxed out your hardware and gotten the fastest disks money can buy, you’ll hit a limit on how much performance you can squeeze from your SQL Server machines. At some point you have to focus on fine-tuning the applications rather than beefing up SQL Server itself. That takes you into the somewhat tricky world of query analysis, where you try to identify database queries that -- because of the way they are written --aren’t performing as well as they could be. SQL Server comes with an excellent tool, SQL Profiler, that’s designed to capture traces. Think of these as similar to a network packet capture: You’re actually capturing the raw queries being fed to SQL Server, along with information about their execution time. Using this raw data, you can spot bad SQL query performance, and then offer advice to the application developers on how to improve them. Actually improving performance does depend on the ability to change the applications themselves, so this isn’t often an option for ...

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