Tuning I/O Is Often About Tuning Indexes

One Metric Ton Of Indexes

Let’s say you hate your storage. Let’s say you hate it so much that you want you SQL Serve to touch it as little as possible.

You’re most of the people I talk to. Congratulations.

But how do you do that?

Let’s talk about a few things.

How SQL Server Works With Data

It doesn’t matter if a query wants to read or modify data, all those itty-bitty little data pages need to end up in memory.

How much ends up in memory depends on how big your tables are, and how helpful your indexes are.

Likewise, the more indexes you need to modify, the more need to be in memory for that to happen.

You need to design indexes so that you can support your queries by making it easy for them to locate data. That’s your where clause, and guess what?

Your modification queries have where clauses, too.

How You Can Make Indexing Better

Make sure you’re reviewing your indexes regularly. Things that you need to keep an eye on:

  • Duplicative indexes
  • Under-utilized indexes

Even when indexes are defined on the same columns, they’re separate sets of pages within your data files.

  • If you have indexes that are on very similar sets of columns, or supersets/subsets of columns, it’s probably time to start merging them
  • If you have indexes that just aren’t being read, or aren’t being read anywhere near as much as they’re written to, you should think about ditching them

Cleaning up indexes like this gives you more breathing room to add in other indexes later.

It also gives you far fewer objects competing for space in memory.

That means the ones you have left stand a better chance of staying there, and your queries not having to go to disk for them.

How You Can Make Indexes Better

There are all sorts of things you can do to make indexes better, too. I don’t mean rebuilding them, either!

I mean getting smarter about what you’re indexing.

Things like filtered indexes and index compression can net you big wins when it comes to reducing the overall size of indexes.

My friend Andy Mallon has some Great Posts™ about compression over on his blog:

And of course, computed columns can help if you’ve got a wonky schema.

Smaller indexes that take up less space in memory make more efficient use of the space you have, which means you can fit more in there.

How You Can Make Tables Better

There are some obvious bits here, like being extra careful with choosing string length.

LOB data can lead to weird locking, and mess with memory grants.

And of course, overly-wide, non-normalized tables can also lead to issues.

If you’re running an OLTP workload, you may also want to make sure that your critical tables aren’t heaps.

Those things tend to take up more space in memory than they need to.

And of course, if you need any help fixing these types of issues, drop me a line!

Thanks for reading!

New Year, New Hardware

The Tax Man Cometh

I try to set aside money to use on hardware every year, and this year I chose to grab a powerhouse laptop.

The desktop that I built a few years back was starting to feel a little bit creaky. It was easier to buy a better video card and convert it into a gaming rig than try to update various pieces to modernize it.

I’ve long been a fan of ThinkPads, especially the P series of workstations. I’ve got a P51 right now, which I use for general stuff. It’s a powerful laptop, and it was great to travel with and still be able to write and run demos on. Where things get a little trickier is recording/streaming content. If I run any extra spicy demos on here, it impacts everything. Recording and streaming software has to share.

When I had to do that stuff, I used my desktop for demos. This new laptop serves two purposes: it’s a backup in case anything happens to my main laptop, and it’s where I can safely build demos. And hey, maybe someday It’ll be my main laptop, and I’ll have an even crazier laptop for demos.


While watching the Lenovo site for sales, one came along that I couldn’t say no to. I ended up getting about $8500 worth of computer for a shade under $5000.

What’s under the hood?


Yes, that is a laptop with 128GB of RAM, and a decent enough graphics card to process video if need be.


As far as benchmarks go, this thing is plenty speedy.

zoom zoom
testing, testing

This is great for a laptop. No complaints here.

The storage is also pretty sweet.


Comparing my P51 storage to the new P17 storage:

1-2, 1-2

I can read the Posts table into memory about 8 seconds faster on the new laptop. Pretty sweet!

Thanks for reading!

A Word From Our Sponsors

First, a huge thank you to everyone who has bought my training so far. You all are incredible, and I owe all of you a drink.

Your support means a lot to me, and allows me to do nice stuff for other people, like give training away for free.

So far, I’ve donated $45k (!!!) worth of training to folks in need, no questions asked.

Next year, I’d like to keep doing the same thing. I’d also like to produce a whole lot more training to add value to the money you spend. In order to do that, I need to take time off from consulting, which isn’t easy to do. I’m not crying poor, but saying no to work for chunks of time isn’t easy for a one-person party.

I’m hoping that I can make enough in training bucks to make that possible.

Because this sale is extra sale-y, I’ve decided to name it after the blackest black known to man.

From today until December 31st, you can get all 25 hours of my recorded training content for just $100.00. If you click the link below to add everything to your cart, and use the discount code AllFor100 to apply a discount to your cart.




Some fine print: It only works if you add EVERYTHING. It’s a fixed amount discount code that you need to spend a certain amount to have kick in.

Thank for reading, and for your support.