Monday, May 19, 2008

Managing Indexes Part #2

Continued after Managing Indexes Part #1

Order Index Columns for Performance

The order of columns in the CREATE INDEX statement can affect query performance. In general, specify the most frequently used columns first. If you create a single index across columns to speed up queries that access, for example, col1, col2, and col3; then queries that access just col1, or that access just col1 and col2, are also seeded up. But a query that accessed just col2, just col3, or just col2 and col3 does not use the index.

Limit the Number of Indexes for Each Table

A table can have any number of indexes. However, the more indexes there are, the more overhead is incurred as the table is modified. Specifically, when rows are inserted or deleted, all indexes on the table must be updated as well. Also, when a column is updated, all indexes that contain the column must be updated.

Thus, there is a trade-off between the speed of retrieving data from a table and the speed of updating the table. For example, if a table is primarily read-only, having more indexes can be useful; but if a table is heavily updated, having fewer indexes could be preferable.

Drop Indexes That Are No Longer Required

Consider dropping an index if:
  1. It does not speed up queries. The table could be very small, or there could be many rows in the table but very few index entries.
  2. The queries in your applications do not use the index.
  3. The index must be dropped before being rebuilt.

Consider Parallelizing Index Creation

You can parallelize index creation, much the same as you can parallelize table creation. Because multiple processes work together to create the index, the database can create the index more quickly than if a single server process created the index sequentially.

When creating an index in parallel, storage parameters are used separately by each query server process. Therefore, an index created with an INITIAL value of 5M and a parallel degree of 12 consumes at least 60M of storage during index creation.

Consider Creating Indexes with NOLOGGING

You can create an index and generate minimal redo log records by specifying NOLOGGING in the CREATE INDEX statement. Creating an index with NOLOGGING has the following benefits:
  1. Space is saved in the redo log files.
  2. The time it takes to create the index is decreased.
  3. Performance improves for parallel creation of large indexes.

In general, the relative performance improvement is greater for larger indexes created without LOGGING than for smaller ones. Creating small indexes without LOGGING has little effect on the time it takes to create an index. However, for larger indexes the performance improvement can be significant, especially when you are also parallelizing the index creation.

Creating an Index Explicitly

You can create indexes explicitly (outside of integrity constraints) using the SQL statement CREATE INDEX. The following statement creates an index named emp_ename for the ename column of the emp table:

CREATE INDEX emp_ename ON emp(ename) TABLESPACE users

Notice that several storage settings and a tablespace are explicitly specified for the index. If you do not specify storage options (such as INITIAL and NEXT) for an index, the default storage options of the default or specified tablespace are automatically used.

Creating a Unique Index Explicitly

Indexes can be unique or nonunique. Unique indexes guarantee that no two rows of a table have duplicate values in the key column (or columns). Nonunique indexes do not impose this restriction on the column values. Use the CREATE UNIQUE INDEX statement to create a unique index. The following example creates a unique index:

CREATE UNIQUE INDEX dept_unique_index ON dept (dname)

Alternatively, you can define UNIQUE integrity constraints on the desired columns. The database enforces UNIQUE integrity constraints by automatically defining a unique index on the unique key. This is discussed in the following section. However, it is advisable that any index that exists for query performance, including unique indexes, be created explicitly.

Discussion continued Managing Indexes Part #3
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