Creating Temp Staging Tables to Avoid Spooling

Bert Wagner shows how you can create your own tables in tempdb to avoid eager or lazy spools:

SQL Server Spool operators are a mixed bag. On one hand, they can negatively impact performance when writing data to disk in tempdb. On the other hand, they allow filtered and transformed result sets to be temporarily staged, making it easier for that data to be reused again during that query execution.

The problem with the latter scenario is that SQL Server doesn’t always decide to use a spool; often it’s happy to re-read (and re-process) the same data repeatedly. When this happens, one option you have is to explicitly create your own temporary staging table that will help SQL Server cache data it needs to reuse.

The other problem with spooling is that the spool doesn’t have indexes and so performance can be awful. When I look at an execution plan, one of my immediate red flags is spooling: if we have that, removing it is one of the first candidates for optimization after the trivial stuff (expected scan/seek behavior, “fat pipes” from excessive row counts, residual I/O, etc.).

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