Update Statistics After An Upgrade

Erin Stellato gives us some good life advice:

There are a variety of methods we use for helping customers upgrade to a new SQL Server version, and one question we often get asked is whether or not statistics need to be updated as part of the upgrade process.

tl;dr

Yes.  Update statistics after an upgrade.  Further, if you’re upgrading to 2012 or higher from an earlier version, you should rebuild your indexes (which will update index statistics, so then you just need to update column statistics).

Make this one of your “Not too long; did read” posts of the day.

Methods For Capturing Cardinality Estimate Statistics

Monica Rathbun gives us five methods for finding cardinality estimate values when running a SQL Server query:

A second option is to use statistics profiling. This was introduced in SQL Server 2014 and is easily set by using SET STATISTICS PROFILE ON orenable query profiling globally using DBCC TRACEON (7412, -1). This trace flag is only available in SQL Server 2016 SP1 and above.  Selecting from the dynamic management view (DMV) Sys.dm_exec_query_profiles you can do real time query execution progress monitoring while the query is running.  This option will return estimated and actual rows by operator.

Click through for the full set of methods.

Auto-Generated Filtered Stats

Dmitry Piliugin shows one way that we can optimize a query whose main problem is poor row estimates:

A model variation is a new concept in the cardinality estimation framework 2014, that allows easily turn on and off some model assumptions and cardinality estimation algorithms. Model variations are based on a mechanism of pluggable heuristics and may be used in special cases. I think they are left for Microsoft support to be able to address some client’s CE issues pointwise.

Today we are going to view some interesting model variation, that creates filtered statistics on-the-fly. I should give a disclaimer here.

Warning: All the information below is presented for purely educational and curiosity purposes. This is completely undocumented and unsupported and should not ever be used in production systems unless Microsoft support will recommend you. More to the point, the usage of this model variation may affect the overall server performance in a negative way. This should be used for experiments and in the test environment only.

It’s interesting reading, though do heed that warning.  This also isn’t a quick operation (seeing as how the database engine is creating filtered statistics), so it’s not a first-best choice.  But worth keeping your back pocket.

Collecting Statistics Usage Info

Grant Fritchey shows us how (safely) to collect data on statistics usage:

Years ago I was of the opinion that it wasn’t really possible to see the statistics used in the generation of a query plan. If you read the comments here, I was corrected of that notion. However, I’ve never been a fan of using undocumented trace flags. Yeah, super heroes like Fabiano Amorim and Paul White use them, but for regular individuals like me, it seems like a recipe for disaster. Further, if you read about these trace flags, they cause problems on your system. Even Fabiano was getting the occasional crash.

So, what’s a safe way to get that information? First up, Extended Events. If you use the auto_stats event, you can see the statistics getting created and getting loaded and used. Even if they’re not created, you can see them getting loaded. It’s an easy way to quickly see which statistics were used to generate a plan. One note, you’ll have to compile or recompile a given query to see this in action.

Read on for more.

Understanding DBCC SHOW_STATISTICS Outputs

Bill Wolf continues his series on statistics by looking at what DBCC SHOW_STATISTICS gives you:

When I was putting together the lesson plans for this, I wanted to make my own query for the comparisons, not borrow one from another site or blog.  Yes, I borrow plenty, but I wanted this to be mine.  When I was presenting my “code tuning” class, I had recently upgraded my instance from 2012 to 2017.  I had also put my database into 2017 compatibility mode.  I had used this query to show that unions that are intensive can cause issues with tempdb and cause spill over.  To my “joy”, when I ran the query in the class I did not get the tempdb spillover.  And right then I realized that I was not in Kansas(2012 compatibility) any longer.  But this proved to be opportunistic for the statistics/optimizer comparison.

Read on for a discussion of the cardinality estimator as well.

Row Counts From Statistics In Azure DW

Derik Hammer has a script to estimate row counts in an Azure SQL Data Warehouse table:

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture designed for large-scale data warehouses. An MPP system creates logical / physical slices of the data. In SQL Data Warehouse’s case, the data has 60 logical slices, at all performance tiers. This means that a single table can have up to 60 different object_ids. This is why, in SQL Data Warehouse, there is the concept of physical and logical object_ids along with physical names.

Below is a query for finding row counts of tables in SQL Data Warehouse which accounts for the differences in architecture between my earlier script, written for SQL Server, and SQL Data Warehouse.

Click through for the script.

Updating Statistics On System Tables

Dan Guzman shows that you can update statistics on system tables:

The solution in many cases to simply update statistics on the underlying system tables indexes used by the problem DMV queries. This can be done selectively by identifying the system table indexes referenced in execution plan seek and scan operators of the problem query execution plan and then executing UPDATE STATISTICS on each index. However, the task is somewhat tedious.

Alternatively, one can simply update stats on all the system tables. Below is a script that generates and executes DDL to update stats on all non-empty system tables, making quick work of this.

Click through for the script, as well as an interesting note if you try to use constructs like @sql = @sql + N’some string’ in your code.

Base Versus Simple Containment

Joe Obbish takes a crack at explaining the difference between base containment and simple containment for cardinality estimation:

We know that the first query will return 500k rows and the second query will return 0 rows. However, can SQL Server know that? Each statistics object only contains information about its own column. There’s no correlation between the UNIQUE_ID and MOD_FILTER columns, so there isn’t a way for SQL Server to know that the queries will return different estimates. The query optimizer can create an estimate based on the filters on the WHERE clause and on the histograms of the join columns, but there’s no foolproof way to do that calculation. The presence of the filters introduces uncertainty into the estimate, even with statistics that perfectly describe the data for each column. The containment assumption is all about the modeling assumption that SQL Server has to make to resolve that uncertainty.

It’s an interesting post aimed at trying to get you to think like a simplified cardinality estimator.  SQL Server doesn’t behave exactly like this, but it’s a good mental reference point.

Asynchronous Stats Updates

Monica Rathbun explains why you might want to turn on asynchronous statistics updates in your OLTP environment:

By default, when Auto Update Statistics is set to True, the SQL Server Query Optimizer will automatically update statistics when data has met a threshold of changes (insert, update, delete, or merge) and the estimated rows are now potentially stale. When statistics are stale, execution plans can become suboptimal which can lead to degradation in performance.

This best practice option ensures your statistics stay up to date as much as possible. Each time a cached query plan is executed the Optimizer checks for data changes and potentially generates new statistics. This behavior is exactly what we want, but there is a catch. The caveat to this is that a cached query plan will be “held” while the statistics are updated and will recompile to use the new values before running. This caveat can slow down the execution process dramatically.

The advice Monica provides is generally sound, though there are rare cases when asynchronous statistics updates end up causing more problems than they solve, so test the change first.

How Statistics In SQL Server Have Changed Over The Years

Erin Stellato gives us a version-based timeline of how SQL Server has handled statistics over the years:

SQL Server 2008

This is a very interesting historical look.  Most interesting to me was the decreases in the number of steps available.

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