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Tamarick Hill

July, the 31 Days of SQL Server DMO’s – Day 23 (sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats)

The sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats Dynamic Management View is used to return usage information about the various indexes on your SQL Server instance. Let’s have a look at this DMV against our AdventureWorks2012 database so we can examine the information returned.

SELECT * FROM sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats
WHERE database_id = db_id('AdventureWorks2012')



The first three columns in the result set represent the database_id, object_id, and index_id of a given row. You can join these columns back to other system tables to extract the actual database, object, and index names. The next four columns are probably the most beneficial columns within this DMV. First, the user_seeks column represents the number of times that a user query caused a seek operation against a particular index. The user_scans column represents how many times a user query caused a scan operation on a particular index. The user_lookups column represents how many times an index was used to perform a lookup operation. The user_updates column refers to how many times an index had to be updated due to a write operation that effected a particular index. The last_user_seek, last_user_scan, last_user_lookup, and last_user_update columns provide you with DATETIME information about when the last user scan, seek, lookup, or update operation was performed. The remaining columns in the result set are the same as the ones we previously discussed, except instead of the various operations being generated from user requests, they are generated from system background requests.

This is an extremely useful DMV and one of my favorites when it comes to Index Maintenance. As we all know, indexes are extremely beneficial with improving the performance of your read operations. But indexes do have a downside as well. Indexes slow down the performance of your write operations, and they also require additional resources for storage. For this reason, in my opinion, it is important to regularly analyze the indexes on your system to make sure the indexes you have are being used efficiently. My AdventureWorks2012 database is only used for demonstrating or testing things, so I dont have a lot of meaningful information here, but for a Production system, if you see an index that is never getting any seeks, scans, or lookups, but is constantly getting a ton of updates, it more than likely would be a good candidate for you to consider removing. You would not be getting much benefit from the index, but yet it is incurring a cost on your system due to it constantly having to be updated for your write operations, not to mention the additional storage it is consuming. You should regularly analyze your indexes to ensure you keep your database systems as efficient and lean as possible.

One thing to note is that these DMV statistics are reset every time SQL Server is restarted. Therefore it would not be a wise idea to make decisions about removing indexes after a Server Reboot or a cluster roll. If you restart your SQL Server instances frequently, for example if you schedule weekly/monthly cluster rolls, then you may not capture indexes that are being used for weekly/monthly reports that run for business users. And if you remove them, you may have some upset people at your desk on Monday morning. If you would like to begin analyzing your indexes to possibly remove the ones that your system is not using, I would recommend building a process to load this DMV information into a table on scheduled basis, depending on how frequently you perform an operation that would reset these statistics, then you can analyze the data over a period of time to get a more accurate view of what indexes are really being used and which ones or not.

For more information about this DMV, please see the below Books Online link:

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Published Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:17 AM by Tamarick Hill
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