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Finding Indexes Not in Use

Dennes Torres takes us through a few iterations of a query to find indexes not in use:

It doesn’t matter if you are trying to remove indexes for good reasons or just to work around a bad environment, let’s see in more details how to find which indexes doesn’t have enough usage to justify their existance.

First, some basic definitions, without going into many details:

Index Seek: That’s the best and desirable use of the index. It means the index tree is being used to go directly to the records we need.

Index Scan: Not so good as an index seek, so it could be better. However, sometimes even an index scan is good, a non clustered index scan means the pages of that index are smaller an better for a scan than the pages of the clustered index. There are many variations that makes an index scan good, but most times you don’t need to reach this level of analysis, you may reach your objective only analysing index seeks.

Update: When the fields are updated (update/insert/delete) all indexes which contain those fields need to be updated as well. Indexes are a balance: We increase performance on reading and suffer a bit more when writting. The problem is when the writting happens more than the reading.

Read on to see Dennes’s query evolve and bring important information to the table. For example, it’s not just how often a particular index gets used; it’s also how important the queries are which use this index. An index may only run once a month, but if it turns the most important report the CEO cares about from running in 4 hours to running in 4 seconds, you bet that index is staying.

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