Blog Post

SQL Sentry Plan Explorer – Don’t Leave Home Without It


CollaborateImageIf you’ve been around me long enough then you realize that I am a Red Gate fanatic. With that said I’ve grown accustomed to another utility called SQL Sentry Plan Explorer by SQL Sentry.

I’m a big Aaron Bertrand (B|T) fan and he is the one that first introduced me to this utility via his blog; if you aren’t following this man then you are missing out. He has some stellar commentary on his blog and twitter and has a deep passion for the SQL Community.

What is SQL Sentry Plan Explorer

One thing that I think of when the words SQL Sentry Plan Explorer are said is query optimization. Do you have that one go to script or utility when you are troubleshooting stored procedures and queries? If so, and this utility isn’t part of it then add it to your tool DBA tool belt.

There are two different versions that you can download; a free version and a Pro version. Both utilize SQL Server to help streamline and make optimization of queries become more efficient for the every day data professional.

What does the Free Plan offer

The free plan offers quite a bit. You can check out the overview here

  1. Enhanced plan diagrams
  2. Statements tree
  3. Plan trees
  4. Top operations
  5. Query columns
  6. Join diagrams
  7. Parameters
  8. Expressions
  9. I/O

These are just a few of the things you can expect to see with the free version

What does the Pro plan offer

In addition to what the free plan offers you will find some of the following:

  1. Wait Stats
  2. Full Query Call Stack
  3. Open Deadlock files
  4. Plan Filtering
  5. Rotate plans

…and much more

Personal Approaches

In the past I have found that the free plan has allowed me to:

  1. Quickly identify bottlenecks
  2. Review and compare statements
  3. Review costly operations
  4. Review index seeks and scans

I think one of the most beneficial items that SQL Sentry has done for this utility is adding it as an SSMS add in.

Utility Downloaded, Now What?

Like any other tool, the goal is to help streamline and make the data professional more efficient. With that said, the data professional has to know the “why’s” and how things function within SQL; don’t utilize the tool as a crutch nor should you utilize the tool as a means to solidify commands like a robot.

A SQL community member and MVP has taught me (thanks Tim Chapman (B|T) that just because you have all these tools at your disposal you, yourself have to be able to connect all the dots which means what guys – learn and know what you are reading.

You see an index seek; great….now why?

You see that Plan Explorer is showing you a critical alert in red on index cost…great; why?

Don’t just simply follow a tool; know what you are looking at.


I highly recommend SQL Sentry’s Plan Explorer; from personal experience it is helped me on more than one occasion. You can view all they have to offer here.

Well done SQL Sentry; well done indeed.

I tell you what; check out what my other colleagues have to say on the matter and how they have benefited from this utility:

If you want to read more about the newly released SQL Search, don’t forget to check out these blog posts:

On a SQL Collaboration Quest

Four SQL professionals gathered from the four corners of the world to share their SQL knowledge with each other and with their readers: Mickey Stuewe from California, USA, Chris Yates from Kentucky, USA, Julie Koesmarno from Canberra, Australia, and Jeffrey Verheul from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. They invite you to join them on their quest as they ask each other questions and seek out the answers in this collaborative blog series. Along the way, they will also include other SQL professionals to join in the collaboration.



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