Thursday, June 15, 2017

Reorgs, Rebuilds, and Fill

In an earlier post I chatted about the joy of creating indices; now we get a bit deeper into the topic to explore how you maintain the things. Then we'll circle back to discuss how you should have built them in the first place, so as to minimize your maintenance (there's nothing like 20-20 hindsight, eh?).

Let me preface the post with a disclaimer: some DBAs feel the best way to handle index maintenance is to use the wizard to create a maintenance plan for overnight or weekend defragments. I call this the lazy man's way of index maintenance, but it does have its place under many circumstances. If your employees use your database mainly during weekday working hours and it is quiescent at night (or on the weekend) and if it's not gigantic (say 100 gigabyte or less), this automatic maintenance is a smart idea and works well enough. Otherwise though I have concerns that it is a bit too easy and hides the sins of bad index design in the first place.

For large databases that never sleep you should take care to spend some time reorganizing indices online. If you are running the enterprise edition you can even rebuild indices online. Certainly not all of them however. First, learn to target the indices that need the most love and attention; I have several ways to do this. In the database explorer window of SSMS, after clicking on Tables, include the column for index size and sort the tables descending. Double click the top table, double click the index icon, and again include the column for index size. Sort descending. Fortunately SSMS remembers all this column setup so now that you've done it, it will always be at the ready.

Every week or so page through the topmost indices, right click on properties, then click fragmentation. Anything in the 30 to 40 percent range should be defragmented. How do you do this? Well you have two options, reorganize or rebuild, but more about that briefly.
Another good way to find indices to target is by running this query (the same one as in my earlier post on indices). The top rows in the resultset are the heaviest used so they need a bit tighter maintenance planning.
SELECT AS object_name, AS index_name,
Case when (is_unique = 1 and is_primary_key = 1) then 'PK UNIQUE '
when is_unique = 1  then 'UNIQUE ' else '' end + sys.indexes.type_desc type_desc,
c.index_columns AS index_columns_key, s.used_page_count * 8   AS IndexSizeKB,
sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.user_seeks, sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.user_scans,
sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.user_lookups, sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.user_updates,
sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.last_user_seek, sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.last_user_scan,
sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.last_user_lookup, sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.last_user_update
FROM sys.objects JOIN sys.indexes ON sys.indexes.object_id=sys.objects.object_id
JOIN (SELECT distinct
object_id, index_id, stuff((SELECT ','+col_name(object_id,column_id ) as 'data()'
FROM sys.index_columns t2
WHERE t1.object_id =t2.object_id and t1.index_id = t2.index_id
FOR XML PATH ('')),1,1,'') as 'index_columns'
FROM sys.index_columns t1
) c ON c.index_id = sys.indexes.index_id AND c.object_id = sys.indexes.object_id
LEFT OUTER JOIN sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats
ON sys.indexes.index_id=sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.index_id
AND sys.indexes.object_id=sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.object_id
JOIN sys.dm_db_partition_stats  AS s
ON s.[object_id] = sys.indexes.object_id AND s.index_id = sys.indexes.index_id
WHERE sys.objects.type='u'                 --Only UserTables will be selected
AND sys.indexes.type_desc  <> 'HEAP'       --Only indexes will appear, not HEAP tables
AND sys.indexes.type_desc like '%NONCLUSTER%'
ORDER BY 6 desc
Now that you're ready to fix these puppies, you can reorganize or rebuild. A reorganize unshuffles the b-tree by using the free space you left by allowing a fill factor (ahhh, you didn't allow a fill factor? More on that in a moment). The nice thing about a reorganize is you can interrupt it any time without incurring any rollback and it doesn't interfere much with existing SQL activity. Option two is a rebuild. Unless you have enterprise edition though, a rebuild will interfere or deadlock other queries and may escalate to a table lock. You do however have to do a rebuild if you are changing the fill factor (so back to that again).

Now you see the value of a fill factor: it creates extra space for inter-branch growth of the b-tree, so your indices don't fragment as quickly. The extra allocated space also provides the means for running the online reorganization. How much fill should you allow? I start by setting the fill factor to 90 (in other words 10 percent vacant space). Then when I am checking for fragmentation I may adjust the fill lower, depending upon the property of page utilization. Usually I midpoint the difference, so for example if my present fill factor is 90 and the fragmented index shows 70 percent page fullness, I'll schedule a rebuild to set the fill factor down to 80.

Keeping your indices happy will make your developers and your managers happy, and it's a pleasant enough diversion for a daytime job.