SQL Server: The dark side of NVARCHAR

Introduction

In this article, we are going to talk about using the nvarchar data type. We will explore how SQL Server stores this data type on the disk and how it is processed in the RAM. We will also examine how the size of nvarchar may affect performance.

Actual data size: nchar vs nvarchar

We use nvarchar when the size of column data entries are probably going to vary considerably. The storage size (in bytes) is twice as much the actual length of data entered + 2 bytes. This allows us to save disk storage in comparison of using nchar data type.  Let us consider following example. We are creating two tables. One table contains nvarchar column, another table contains nchar columns. The size of the column is 2000 characters (4000 bytes).

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What Can Query Plan Tell?

Introduction

SQL query describes the expected result, not the way to get the result. The set of specific steps the server must take to return the result is called the query execution plan. The plan is built by the optimizer. Selection of a plan affects execution speed, what makes it one of the most important elements of the query performance problem analysis.

Execution plan comprises operators and their properties that are interrelated with each other in the form of the tree structure. Each operator is responsible for a separate logical or physical operation. All together, they ensure the result described in the query text. Inside the tree, operators are represented by the class objects in the memory of SQL Server. Server users (that is, you and me) see the description generated in XML format with a specific schema, that is displayed graphically by the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) environment.

There are many various plan operators and even more properties. Besides, new ones emerge from time to time. This article does not dare to describe all possible variety of operators. Instead, I would like to share the most interesting additions in this subject and to remind some old but useful elements. (more…)

Troubleshooting long running queries in MS SQL Server

Preface

There is an information system that I administer. The system consists of the following components:

1. MS SQL Server database
2. Server application
3. Client applications

These information systems are installed on several objects. The information system is used actively 24 hours a day by 2 to 20 users at once on each object. Therefore, you cannot perform routine maintenance all at once. So, I have to «spread» SQL Server index defragmentation throughout the day, rather than defragmenting all the necessary fragmented indexes at one stroke. This applies to other operations as well.

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