Home > Store

SQL Performance Tuning

Register your product to gain access to bonus material or receive a coupon.

SQL Performance Tuning


  • Sorry, this book is no longer in print.
Not for Sale


  • Copyright 2003
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 528
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-79169-2
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-79169-3

A poorly performing database application can cost each user time, and have an impact on other applications running on the same computer or the same network. This book will help DBA's and programmers improve the performance of their databases. It is not an introduction to SQL, nor is it a tuning manual for a particular SQL implementation. It is a guide for users and programmers who want to improve SQL performance no matter what brand of SQL they use. It will provide tuning tips for common situations, such as how to change a query so it will go faster and how to shift work from the server to the client. All the ideas have been tested against the eight leading DBMS applications. Almost all large organizations and companies today run more than one type of database. This is the only book to cover database tuning for them.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

SQL Performance Tuning: Simple "Searches"

Downloadable Sample Chapter

Click below for Sample Chapter(s) related to this title:
Sample Chapter 1

Table of Contents


You Don't Know that Your DBMS Is Good….

You Know that Even Good Tools Work Better in Skilled Hands….


1. Facilis Descensus Averni.

This Subject Is Important.

The Big Eight.

Installation Parameters.

Test Results.


Terminology and Expectations.



2. Simple Searches.

General Tuning.

Code for Points.

Constant Propagation.

Dead Code Elimination.

Ensure You Use the Right DBMS.

Constant Folding.

Case-Insensitive Searches.


The Bottom Line: General Tuning.

Specific Tuning.



AND Plus OR.









The Bottom Line: Specific Tuning.

Style Notes.

Parting Shots.


General Sort Considerations.

The ORDER BY Clause.

To Sort or Not to Sort.

The Bottom Line: General Sorts.

Character Sorts.

Character Sort Support.


The Bottom Line: Character Sorts.

Other Options.

Sort Keys.

Encouraging Index Use.


The Bottom Line: Other Options.

Parting Shots.



Optimal GROUP BY Clauses.


Alternatives to GROUP BY.

The Bottom Line: Optimal GROUP BY Clauses.



The Bottom Line: Sorting.

Set Functions and Summary Aggregates.


SUM Trouble.

Multiple Aggregation Levels.


The Bottom Line: Aggregates.

Parting Shots.

5. Joins.

Join Plan Strategies.

Nested-Loop Joins.

Sort-Merge Joins.

Hash Joins.

Avoid the Join Strategies

Join Indexes.

Composite Tables.

The Bottom Line: Avoiding Joins.

Three-Way Joins and Beyond.

Old Style versus ANSI Style.

Outer Joins.

Parting Shots.

6. Subqueries.


Join versus Subquery.


The Bottom Line: Join versus Subquery.

Syntax Choices.





Double INs.



Set Operations.

The Bottom Line: Syntax Choices.

Parting Shots.

7. Columns.

How Big Is the Size Factor?

Fixed or Variable?

The Bottom Line: The Size Factor.


Length Specification.

Variant Character Sets.

The Bottom Line: Characters.


The Bottom Line: Temporals.






The Bottom Line: Numbers.


The Bottom Line: Bits.

Large Objects.

The Bottom Line: LOBs.


The Bottom Line: NULLs.

Column Order Within Rows.

The Bottom Line: Column Order.

Parting Shots.

8. Tables.

The Storage Hierarchy.






The Bottom Line: Storage Hierarchy.





Free Page Space.

The Bottom Line: Heaps.


The Bottom Line: Clusters.

The Normal Forms.

Breaking Normalization Rules.

The Bottom Line: Normalization.


Bottom Line: Views.

Parting Shots.

9. Indexes.



Searching a B-tree.

Inserting into a B-tree.

Deleting from a B-tree.


Rebuilding a B-tree.

The Bottom Line: B-trees.

Types of Indexes.

Compound Indexes.

Covering Indexes.

Unique Indexes.

Clustered Indexes.

The Bottom Line: Types of Indexes.

Bitmap Indexes.

The Bottom Line: Bitmap Indexes.

Other Index Variations.

Index Key Values.

The Bottom Line: Index Key Values.

Parting Shots.

10. Constraints.


NULL Indicators.

The Bottom Line: NOT NULL Constraints.


The Bottom Line: CHECK Constraints.


The Bottom Line: FOREIGN KEY Constraints.


The Bottom Line: PRIMARY KEY Constraints.


The Bottom Line: UNIQUE Constraints.


The Bottom Line: Triggers.

Disabling Constraints.




The Bottom Line: Disabling Constraints.

Client Validations.

The Bottom Line: Client Validations.

Redundant SELECT Clauses.

The Bottom Line: Redundant SELECTs.

Parting Shots.

11. Stored Procedures.



Advantages of Stored Procedures.

Less Traffic.



Other Tips.

The Bottom Line: Stored Procedures.

Parting Shots.

12. ODBC.


Tracing MS Query.


The Bottom Line: SQLPrepare.

Fetch Loops.

The Bottom Line: Fetch Loops.

Data-Change Statements.

The Bottom Line: Data-Change Statements.

Catalog Functions.

The Bottom Line: Catalog Functions.

Parting Shots.

13. JDBC.


Connection Pooling.

Connection Settings.

Connections and DBMS Info.

The Bottom Line: Connections.

Query Prepping.

Query Statement.

Query Syntax.



Query Settings

The Bottom Line: Query Prepping.

Result Sets.

How Many Rows?

getXXX methods.


The Bottom Line: Result Sets.

Data Changes.

The Bottom Line: Data Changes.

Parting Shots.

14. Data Changes.


The Bottom Line: Logs.



The Bottom Line: INSERT.


Dependent UPDATE.


The Bottom Line: UPDATE.


The Bottom Line: DELETE.

Ugly Updates.

The Bottom Line: Ugly Updates.

FETCH and Data Changes.

The Bottom Line: FETCH and Data Changes.


The Bottom Line: COMMIT and ROLLBACK.

Parting Shots.

15. Locks.

What Is a Lock?

Lock Modes.



Intent Locks.

The Bottom Line: Locks.

Isolation Levels.

Concurrency Problems and Isolation Levels.


READ COMMITTED Transactions.


SERIALIZABLE Transactions.



The Bottom Line: Isolation Levels.

Index Locks.

The Bottom Line: Index Locks.

Hot Spots.

The Bottom Line: Hot Spots.

Optimistic Locking.

The Bottom Line: Optimistic Locking.

The Scan Trick.

Parting Shots.

16. Clients and Servers.


The Bottom Line: Middleware.

Server Processes and Threads.

System Processes/Threads.

Per-Client Processes/Threads.

Separateness and Parallelism.

The Bottom Line: Server Processes and Threads.

What Should the Client Do?

Client Model.

The Bottom Line: Client Tips.

Parting Shots.

17. Cost-Based Optimizers.


Statistics and Histograms.

Analyzing Statistics.



Parting Shots.

Appendix A. Further Reading.

Appendix B. Glossary.

Index. 0201791692T08272002


A poorly performing database application can cost each user time, and have an impact on other applications running on the same computer or the same network.

The purpose of this book is to help you improve the performance of your SQL database. It is not an introduction to SQL syntax, not a tuning manual for a specific SQL implementation, and not a guide to design or data modelling. Instead, we've written it for users and programmers who want to improve SQL performance, no matter what brand of SQL they use. In this book, you'll find tuning tips for common situations. Topics that will give you the flavor include: "How to change a query so it will go faster", "What an index does", and "Shifting work from the server to the client."

Rather than exploiting the unique features of a single DBMS, we're going to give you ideas that are good for all of the major SQL DBMSs. Client/server programmers and consultants need to appreciate what can happen when the DBMS changes, or--the most challenging situation--the DBMS is unknown. So we tested all the ideas in this book on eight well-known DBMSs.

A good DBMS already contains a good optimizer. Yet you have picked up a book that promises to help you do your own tuning. That means that either you don't know something ... or you do know something:

  • You don't know that your DBMS is good.
  • You know that even good tools work better in skilled hands.
  • You don't know that your DBMS is good ...

    That would be true if you're a student, or new on the job. That would especially be true if you're writing queries or programs that should work on more than one DBMS. You're most likely to encounter one of the DBMSs with the largest market shares (based on figures for the year 2000):

    • Oracle 33.8%
    • IBM 30.1% (prior to acquisition of Informix)
    • Microsoft 14.9%
    • Sybase 3.2%
    • Informix 3.0%

    Data from: Gartner Dataquest (May 2001)

    You might also run into DBMSs that are popular for web work (like MySQL), for work with Borland products (like InterBase), for desktops (like Access), for mobile and Java interfacing (like Cloudscape), for embedded systems (like Solid), or a host of small fry (like mSQL and gadfly). This book tries to be useful for the common denominator in all products. To use automotive analogies, it's not a "mechanic's guide to tuning the 1999 Cadillac" book, it's a "driver's guide to optimizing performance of modern cars" book—even if you have a manual transmission.

    You know that even good tools work better in skilled hands ...

    Everybody has heard of sluggish SQL queries, or even whole systems, that some hero(ine) improved with small effort. Usually the improvement is small too, so we will avoid extravagant promises. But we will make you the following guarantees:

  • You will be able to follow our arguments without deep thinking or hard work. All we assume is that you have basic knowledge of programming and standard SQL syntax. In fact, you can read this book on a plane or at the beach.
  • All of our observations have been confirmed by tests on real DBMSs within the last several months.
  • We know that "optimizing" is very different from "over-clocking" and will only discuss safe, rational, relational techniques.
  • One accusation that could be levelled, and to which we plead guilty, is that some of our material is ad-hoc instead of general principles. Of course! There are only a few general principles in DBMS optimization:

  • First, do no harm. (Actually that's from Hippocrates' ancient manual on medical treatments. It applies to anybody fixing what ain't really broke.)
  • Get more memory, add indexes, re-cable the network. (If you can influence the environment like that, then do so.)
  • Design right in the first place.
  • Understand the query.
  • Instead of general principals, we will be looking at what can be done with what's likely to be at hand. If we descend sometimes to mere tips and warnings about traps, that's because we've seen over the years that examples of real situations can help people realize what the general rules are. As has often been observed, tips should be based on principles.

    The DBMSs that we looked at while preparing this book include IBM DB2, Informix, Ingres II, InterBase, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, and Sybase (MS-WindowsNT versions). Each was installed and tested using the default switches recommended in the vendors' instructions. To avoid favoring any vendor's idiosyncrasies, all SQL examples in this book are written in ANSI/ISO Standard SQL:1999. Host-language examples are written in C plus ODBC, or Java plus JDBC.

    Your DBMS is your pal. We won't counsel you to subvert it, be paranoid about it, or insult it by assuming it's stupid. Rather, as you would with a pal, you should try to get to know it better, and help it to help you.



    Click below to download the Index file related to this title:






    Submit Errata

    More Information

    InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

    I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


    Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

    This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

    Collection and Use of Information

    To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

    Questions and Inquiries

    For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

    Online Store

    For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


    Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

    Contests and Drawings

    Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


    If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

    Service Announcements

    On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

    Customer Service

    We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

    Other Collection and Use of Information

    Application and System Logs

    Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

    Web Analytics

    Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

    Cookies and Related Technologies

    This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

    Do Not Track

    This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


    Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


    This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


    Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

    • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
    • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
    • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
    • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

    Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


    Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

    Sale of Personal Information

    Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

    While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

    Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

    California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

    Sharing and Disclosure

    Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

    • As required by law.
    • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
    • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
    • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
    • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
    • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
    • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
    • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
    • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

    Requests and Contact

    Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

    Changes to this Privacy Notice

    We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

    Last Update: November 17, 2020