Advice for Performance Tuning

Being pretty new to SQL Server accidential DBA is what I have read, I am wondering what are some good books to read to learn about performance tuning. What are you all reading? Also how can someone like me that is new to SQL really start learning this stuff. Since I am mostly a Sys Admin my boss will not spend the money to send me to a SQL class, he would rather me go to Windows 2008 training instead. I really like the SQL stuff. It is fun and exciting, plus when someone needs some data and I can fetch it I feel like the quater back. Any help and advice.

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asked Sep 30, 2010 at 04:40 PM in Default

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Thanks for all the advice everyone. I have just finished "DBA Survior" by Thomas LaRock. It was a good read. Reading about several DMV's and performace tuning has made me want to pursue that path. Has anyone read Louis Davidson and Tim Ford's book? Several people mentioned it but it appears to be brand new, is it worth the purchase price? If so I will go out and get it, or does anyone have another suggestion rather than BOL?

Oct 25, 2010 at 10:19 AM sqlnubi
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7 answers: sort voted first

I am currently reading

SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled by Grant Fritchey and Sajal Dam

I also ordered a copy of

Performance Tuning with SQL Server Dynamic Management Views by Louis Davidson and Tim Ford

this week from Amazon. I got my email today saying it should be here Oct 4th. I can't wait. DMV's are very powerful and can tell you so much about your server and performance. Between these two books I hope to learn more than I could ever use for performance tuning.

My advice is read as much as you can, practice as much as you can in development environments and attend what training you can. Between free online webcasts, sqlsaturdays, and other PASS events such as local chapters there really is no excuse for not furthering ones SQL knowledge. If you have a local PASS chapter in your area start attending the meetings. They give away a bunch of stuff and books is one of the top items at my chapter. If you have to purchase them Amazon is your best friend.

Also get on twitter. There is a huge SQL community on Twitter. Folks post links to awesome blogs all the time. Be careful though, all this stuff is very addictive so be warned.

I wish you the best of luck in your career and look forward to seeing more of you on SSC. Keep the questions coming.

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answered Sep 30, 2010 at 04:43 PM

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@TRAD @sqlnubi I would also recommend another Grant's great book titled SQL Server Execution Plans If you don't want to buy a hard copy, there is ebook version available at Red Gate Software website Sorry Grant, I never managed to buy it, but have read the e-version cover-to-cover and enjoyed every page of it :)

Sep 30, 2010 at 06:12 PM Oleg

Thanks guys. Checks are in the mail.

Sep 30, 2010 at 06:23 PM Grant Fritchey ♦♦

Ok, I've been resisting twitter, but if its a good source for SQL info I may have to try it. How would you recommend starting?

Oct 01, 2010 at 10:15 AM TimothyAWiseman

Twitter is pretty easy, look me up @tradney. Almost every I am following is a SQL junkie like myself. There are tags out there like #sql, #sqlhelp, #sqlpass that have lots of SQL related info in them. You can search on those as well. Just start following folks that are in the SQL field and you will start seeing their tweets and pick up on all sorts of SQL goodness. Again, look me up and see who all I am following for a decent start. I have only been really active on twitter for a month.

Oct 01, 2010 at 10:33 AM Tim

Also for a listing of twitter users, MVPs, MS employees, bloggers, all SQL related, go to SQLServerPedia. Can't find the link right now, but it's out there.

Oct 04, 2010 at 05:24 AM Grant Fritchey ♦♦
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I strongly recommend getting a copy of Itzik Ben-Gan's book, Inside T-SQL Querying. If you really want to know how to write SQL code the right way, the first time, that's the book to learn it from. It'll make a huge difference in your understanding of SQL Server and how you write your code.

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answered Sep 30, 2010 at 06:24 PM

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Grant Fritchey ♦♦
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I haven't read that one yet, but I shall. I have read many of his articles though and would strongly recommend all of his writing.

Oct 01, 2010 at 10:30 AM TimothyAWiseman

I need to get my hands on that book.

Oct 02, 2010 at 10:24 AM CirqueDeSQLeil

Just got a Itzik Ben-Gan T-SQL Book at sqlsaturday#48 today. Thanks for the recommendation.

Oct 02, 2010 at 01:49 PM Tim
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All good answers; no surprise there. This question is really more a candidate for the main SSC site forums than here as there is no single correct answer.

That being said... I have read pretty well all the recommendations provided cover to cover (well almost - 3/4s of the way through Grant's 2008 Distiller) and enjoyed them all.

Two other sources I would suggest are Kalen Delaney and her who's who of the SQL Server world co-authors and the SQL Server Internals set of books if you really want to understand how SQL Server works - I've been a fan since the 7.0 version. This, and my next point, help you understand the other books and put it all together.

Another undervalued resource is Books Online, which can be installed on your system or perused over the 'net: BOL

And as I am fond of saying: READ, READ, READ! It's all an investment in yourself.

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answered Oct 01, 2010 at 06:03 AM

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I can't agree with you more on how flipping wonderful Kalen's books are. But, I don't like recommending them to newer people because they can be more than a bit overwhelming. Still, having a copy can't hurt (too much).

Oct 01, 2010 at 06:06 AM Grant Fritchey ♦♦

@Grant - I sort of lean the other way.

The OP talks about the thrill of getting data. My big A-HA! moment for that was (too many) years ago on an NT 4.0 domain where we needed to determine who hadn't logged on in awhile. Each DC held it's own records of logins and there were no tools to consolidate the info. I had the SAMs dumped from all the DCs and imported into SQL where gathering this data became a simple matter. Thank goodness for AD today!

Shortly after that I read Kalen's book and felt the same rush. I always want to understand, not just click and pray :)

I feel that if you start with Internals and it turns you off that's a pretty good indicator of whether you're really into SQL Server.

Of course that's my opinion.

Oct 01, 2010 at 06:18 AM Blackhawk-17

As long as you get a good foundation, knowing more sure can't hurt.

Oct 01, 2010 at 06:35 AM Grant Fritchey ♦♦
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There are lots of good suggestions for books out on this list, and I know that is what you were asking for, but let me point out the value of articles and periodicals.

Generally, SQL Server Magazine, SQLServerCentral.com, and simple-talk.com all have very good articles on performance tuning and I read them all regularly.

Specifically, you may want to look at An Informal Look at Database Performance (http://www.sqlservercentral.com/articles/Performance/71001/). Of course I am biased on that one since I wrote it. I also included a lot of links in there to other articles on performance.

Jeff Moden ( http://www.sqlservercentral.com/Authors/Articles/Jeff_Moden/80567/ ) has some fantastic articles about query performance that are all worth reading. I keep aspiring to bring my articles up to his level in terms of orginality, technical depth, and clarity of explanation and have not come close yet.

And finally, look at Finding the Causes of Poor Performance in SQL Server, Part 1 by Gail Shaw (http://www.simple-talk.com/sql/performance/finding-the-causes-of-poor-performance-in-sql-server,-part-1/) and its follow up in part 2. Those two have been tremendously helpful to me. Gail Shaw also has articles on indexes and other topics that are tied in to performance that are well worth reading.

And while not about performance per se, I always recommend every database programmer read The Curse and Blessing of Dynamic SQL (http://www.sommarskog.se/dynamic_sql.html ).

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answered Oct 01, 2010 at 10:29 AM

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Good resources to add to the book list.

Oct 02, 2010 at 10:25 AM CirqueDeSQLeil
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To be good in performance tuning you should have sound knowledge in the following areas

SQL Server Architecture and Internals (Storage Engine, SQL OS, Memory Management etc)

  • Books Microsoft Press Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Internals, A Microsoft press release

    SQL Server 2008 Internals & T-Shooting. Wrox Release.

    Query Optimizer, Execution Plans and Query Performance Tuning

    QL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled by Grant Fritchey and Sajal Dam

    SQL Server Profiler

    astering SQL Server Profiler By Brad McGehee

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answered Sep 30, 2010 at 08:49 PM

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  • for Brad McGehee. Speaking of which, I'd toss in his book on How To Be an Exceptional DBA. It's not technical, at all, but it is really helpful for showing you how to get better at your job.

Oct 01, 2010 at 04:24 AM Grant Fritchey ♦♦
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asked: Sep 30, 2010 at 04:40 PM

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