General SQL Server Performance Tuning Tips

If you would like to see what is stored in SQL Server’s stack, you can by running this undocumented SQL Server DBCC command:


When you run this command, a stack dump will be performed, writing a file named SQL00001.dmp in the SQL Server log folder. This is a text file you can view with Notepad.


Many times it is useful to compare the performance of a query or stored procedure as you are testing it. This is especially true if the time differences are so small that it is hard for you to know for sure which query was faster or slower.

One of the easiest ways to measure the time it takes for a query to stored procedure to run is to find the starting and ending times, then find the difference between the two. This can be easily accomplished using a few extra lines of Transact-SQL code. Here’s how:

DECLARE @starttime datetime
SELECT @starttime = GETDATE()

… Your code here …

SELECT DATEDIFF(ms, @starttime, GETDATE()) AS ‘Total Time (ms)’

The results will be how long, in milliseconds, it took your code to run. SQL Server’s time function is only accurate to +- 3 milliseconds, so keep this mind.


In SSMS, the most common way to script currently existing objects is to right-click on the database in question and select “All Tasks,” then choose “Generate SQL Script,” and so on, until you script the object you want. This works fine, but takes a lot of keystrokes.

Another way, from within SSMS, to script existing objects is to follow these steps instead:

• Open the database and right-click on the object you want to script, then click “Copy.” Or if you like keyboard shortcuts, press CTRL-C.
• Open a copy of Query Analyzer, Notepad, or any text editor.
• Now on the “Edit” menu from the application, click “Paste” (or press CTRL-V), and the scripted code appears, including any appropriate constraints.

This is a quick and easy way to script database objects you may find handy.


Have you ever wondered how people find out about “undocumented” stored procedures? Have you ever wondered about how SQL Server works behind the scenes? And have you ever wanted to see some examples of how top-notch Transact-SQL developers write SQL code?

All of the above is at your fingertips, although you won’t see many references to it in Microsoft’s documentation. To accomplish all of the above, all you have to do is go to your master SQL Server database in SSMS, open the Stored Procedures Folder, and take a look. All SQL Server stored procedures can be seen here, even the ones not documented by Microsoft. To view the Transact-SQL code in a stored procedure, right-click on the stored procedure you are interested in and click Properties.

If you want to use Query Analyzer instead, all you have to do is to use this command:

USE master
sp_helptext [system_stored_procedure_name]

In many cases, the Transact-SQL code you see is documented (although generally not in great detail), and if you know Transact-SQL, you should be able to follow the code and understand how it works. In some cases, you may need to experiment a little to better understand what is going on.

For example, here’s the Transact-SQL code for the sp_updatestats system stored procedure:

CREATE PROCEDURE sp_updatestats

DECLARE @dbsid varbinary(85)

SELECT @dbsid = sid
FROM master.dbo.sysdatabases
WHERE name = db_name()

/*Check the user sysadmin*/
IF NOT is_srvrolemember(‘sysadmin’) = 1 AND suser_sid() <> @dbsid
RAISERROR(15288,-1,-1,’SA or DBO’,’sp_updatestats’)

DECLARE @exec_stmt nvarchar(540)
DECLARE @tablename sysname
DECLARE @uid smallint
DECLARE @user_name sysname
DECLARE @tablename_header varchar(267)
DECLARE tnames_cursor CURSOR FOR SELECT name, uid FROM sysobjects WHERE type = ‘U’
OPEN tnames_cursor
FETCH NEXT FROM tnames_cursor INTO @tablename, @uid
WHILE (@@fetch_status <> -1)
IF (@@fetch_status <> -2)
SELECT @user_name = user_name(@uid)
SELECT @tablename_header = ‘Updating ‘ + @user_name +’.’+ RTRIM(LOWER(@tablename))
PRINT @tablename_header
SELECT @exec_stmt = ‘UPDATE STATISTICS ‘ + quotename( @user_name , ‘[‘)+’.’ + quotename( @tablename, ‘[‘)
EXEC (@exec_stmt)
FETCH NEXT FROM tnames_cursor INTO @tablename, @uid
DEALLOCATE tnames_cursor
RETURN(0) — sp_updatestats


Besides learning how system stored procedures work, and getting an opportunity to see professionally written code, (if you really like to get your hands dirty) you can also modify the code to do something slightly different. By this, I don’t mean to modify the code you see (that wouldn’t be prudent) but you can copy the code to a new stored procedure, modify it, and then save it with a different name.  


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