Before you think this is to perf tuning what boxed wine is to pest extermination; it’s not. It’s another tool that has pros and cons. The plan cache is cool too, but cached plans don’t have all the information that actual plans do. You can run Traces or Profiler or Extended Events, but they all sort of have their own caveats, gotchas, and overhead. If you don’t have a monitoring tool, though, what are you left with?
Let’s take a look at what you can do with STATISTICS PROFILE, and then the (rather obvious) limitations. Here’s the setup and a simple query.
I’ll admit that outside of learning what they are, I’ve never used text execution plans. I’ll read the XML, view the graphical results, pipe them out to SentryOne Plan Explorer (formerly SQL Sentry), etc. But the text plans never held much allure for me.