Basic SQL Tuning Hints

SQL Tuning

Oracle SQL tuning is a phenomenally complex subject, and entire books have been devoted to the nuances of Oracle SQL tuning. However there are some general guidelines that every Oracle DBA follows in order to improve the performance of their systems. The goals of SQL tuning are simple:

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  • Remove unnecessary large-table full table scans Unnecessary full table scans cause a huge amount of unnecessary I/O, and can drag down an entire database. The tuning expert first evaluates the SQL based on the number of rows returned by the query. If the query returns less and 40 percent of the table rows in an ordered table, or 7 percent of the rows in an unordered table), the query can be tuned to use an index in lieu of the full table scan. The most common tuning for unnecessary full table scans is adding indexes. Standard B-tree indexes can be added to tables, and bitmapped and function-based indexes can also eliminate full table scans. The decision about removing a full table scan should be based on a careful examination of the I/O costs of the index scan vs. the costs of the full table scan, factoring in the multiblock reads and possible parallel execution. In some cases an unnecessary full table scan can be forced to use an index by adding an index hint to the SQL statement.

  • Cache small-table full table scans In cases where a full table scan is the fastest access method, the tuning professional should ensure that a dedicated data buffer is available for the rows. In Oracle7 you can issue alter table xxx cache. In Oracle8 and beyond, the small table can be cached by forcing to into the KEEP pool.

  • Verify optimal index usage This is especially important for improving the speed of queries. Oracle sometimes has a choice of indexes, and the tuning professional must examine each index and ensure that Oracle is using the proper index. This also includes the use of bitmapped and function-based indexes.

  • Verify optimal JOIN techniques Some queries will perform faster with NESTED LOOP joins, others with HASH joins, while other favor sort-merge joins.

  • These goals may seem deceptively simple, but these tasks comprise 90 percent of SQL tuning, and they don't require a through understanding of the internals of Oracle SQL.

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