How to Increase Database Performance with Better SQL Queries

by Feb 10, 2020

Modern businesses are constantly searching for ways to remain more competitive by delivering valuable products and services to their customers. Finding a novel way to appeal to current and prospective clients can make the difference between being a leader in their field or watching the competition from the sidelines. In the current business landscape, consumers are more likely to be interacting digitally through the Internet as opposed to face-to-face encounters.

Poorly performing databases and applications are a sure-fire way to annoy the market segment you want to attract. It’s hard enough to cut through the noise to get people to find your product among the choices provided through digital commerce. Once you get them to your site, the last thing you need is to present them with an unsatisfactory user experience.

Research has shown that a one-second delay in response time can impact how a user views the application and delays of ten seconds require status indicators to maintain their interest. In the ultra-competitive marketplace we inhabit, you might only get one chance to impress potential customers before they opt for an alternate solution. You need it to be your best shot.

Improving Database Performance

The majority of applications that provide useful information or services to consumers make use of databases. Therefore, a logical place to start when looking for ways to create a stellar user experience is with the performance of the databases that are powering your apps. Here are some things to look at when trying to make your website or databases run faster.

If customers are accessing your application through a website, it needs to be properly optimized before looking at the underlying database. Several easy changes can have a substantial impact on the speed at which your website services your customers.

  • Limiting browser requests for CSS files can be accomplished by combining and minifying them. Minifying is the practice of removing unnecessary whitespace and comments to enable the files to be loaded in less time.

  • Enabling Gzip compression can reduce data transfer by up to 70% and can go a long way toward speeding up the user experience, depending on the type of application in question.

  • Properly sizing image files can also help speed up your website. Images that exceed the size expected by a webpage will need to be cropped by the browser, wasting valuable time. Crop them to the right size before putting them on the site.

The database behind the website offers multiple opportunities to improve the overall performance experienced by your clients and customers.

  • Monitoring database performance can uncover issues that can be addressed through additional hardware resources such as disk space, CPU or memory. Implementing some of these changes is beyond the control of the database team. They can make recommendations, but capital expenses need to be approved somewhere up the food chain.

  • Database admins and developers can directly impact the performance of their databases by optimizing their SQL queries. While changes to the logic of production systems will necessarily also need to undergo an approval process, they are much more likely to be approved without the price tag that accompanies new storage devices.

Focusing on SQL Queries

Tuning a database’s SQL queries can be a complex and time-consuming task. There are some specific items that best practices indicate as prime areas of focus for individuals involved in this undertaking. Among them are:

  • Selecting the correct data type. Limit the use of data types such as nchar and nvarchar unless necessary for specific kinds of information.

  • Providing column names in SELECT statements. Issuing a SELECT * command will slow down database operation as the database converts the * to column names.

  • Avoid cursors and use temporary tables or loops when possible to reduce the time required to fetch the data.

  • Make judicious use of indexes. Properly constructed indexes will increase the speed of data retrieval and the overall performance of the database. Using indexes in the wrong way can just drag it down.

These are just a few of the improvements that can be made to SQL queries that can have dramatic effects on how your databases perform.

Selecting the Right Tool

Database teams can address the issue of tuning SQL queries randomly and may obtain some useful results through trial and error. A better solution is to use an effective tool like IDERA’s DB Optimizer. The application provides database professionals with a wide array of features designed to facilitate the optimizations of their SQL queries. You can tune queries on SQL Server, Oracle, Db2, and Sybase from a common interface for enhanced productivity.

Some of the specific tuning assists offered by this versatile database tool are:

  • Index analysis that includes color-coded diagrams indicating index usage and provides optimization recommendations.

  • Automated SQL rewrites that generate cases to find the best alternative to existing SQL statements.

  • Execution statistics can be generated for alternate execution paths to find the fastest running SQL statement. Implement the change with the click of a button.

  • Visual SQL tuning helps simplify the process by displaying indexes, table constraints, and joins in informative diagrams.

In simple terms, DB Optimizer makes it possible for database teams to engage in the productive tuning of the SQL queries at the heart of their systems. The tool provides a viable solution for keeping your databases performing at peak efficiency and keeping your customers satisfied.