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An Overview of SQL Server Indexes

Adron Hall gives us a tour of indexes in several relational database management systems:

1. Structure of the Craft: Dive deep, and you’d find tree-like structures, be it the B-tree or its illustrious cousins – the B+ tree and B* tree. These aren’t ordinary trees; they’re a labyrinth that efficiently guides the system to the row it seeks in a jiffy.
2. Guiding Stars – Pointers: Each entry in this labyrinth isn’t just a dead end. It carries a key value and – wait for it – a pointer. Think of it as a magical compass pointing directly to the treasure, or in this case, the row in the table.
3. Supercharged Searches: Now, imagine sifting through a library without a catalog – agonizingly slow, right? That’s how a database without an index feels. But bring in an index, and suddenly even the vastest of tables become a playground of swift searches.

Read on for an overview of what purposes indexes fulfill in these data platforms. I use “purposes they fulfill” rather than “types of indexes” because there are a couple entries on the list which are not, strictly speaking, actual types of indexes.