Blog Post

My First White Paper – Top 10 Tips for Optimizing SQL Server Performance


Earlier this year I had the chance to collaborate on my first ever white paper “Top 10 Tips for Optimizing SQL Server Performance” with Patrick O’Keeffe who is Director of Software Development at Dell Software Group. I must say, it was a really interesting experience.

Writing a blog post is one thing, but to have a team of people critiquing everything you write is something else entirely. It really helps you to focus a lot more about the core message that you are trying to convey.

Things you might normally write in a blog have to be curtailed and thought of far more carefully for a more discerning audience. For example, one anecdote I wrote would have made perfect sense to a UK audience, but had to be removed as it may have confused a wider international audience.

The marketing process itself is really interesting too as there are various brand guidelines that you have to adhere to, you can think of it as a very manual Policy Based Management system. Rereading a document with track changes on with multiple edits from multiple editors is a skill that I am going to have to brush up on.

One thing that stuck in my mind from the various review sessions was when you were allowed to write a number in numerals and when you couldn’t. It seems such a small thing but a lot of attention was paid to it. Choosing callouts was a lot of fun too, so expect to see those cropping up in a blog post soon.

The white paper

We realise that you are all busy people and SQL Server is a vastly comprehensive piece of software that gets larger and more complex with each release. With this in mind there is no way that any single technical paper can tell you everything that you need to know. So in this white paper we have chosen to use the Pareto principle, that’s the 80/20 rule. By following these ten tips you will see the greatest percentage gain for the smallest amount of work.

The ten tips

10. The Baselining and Benchmarking methodology helps you spot problems.

9. Performance counters give you quick and useful information about currently running operations.

8. Changing server settings can provide a more stable environment.

7. Find rogue queries in the plan cache.

6. SQL Profiler is your friend.

5. Configure SANs for SQL Server performance.

4. Prevent cursors and other bad T-SQL from returning to haunt applications.

3. Maximize plan reuse for better SQL Server caching.

2. Learn how to read the SQL Server buffer cache and minimize cache thrashing.

1. Understand how indexes are used and find bad indexes.

You can download “Top 10 Tips for Optimizing SQL Server Performance” here.


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