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CREATE INDEX on large table

P: n/a
SQL Server 7/2000: We have reasonably large tables (3,000,000 rows)
that we need to add some indexes for. In a test, it took over 12 hours
to CREATE a new INDEX against this table. One of us suggested that we
create a temp table with the new index and copy the data from the old
table into the new one, then rename it. I understand this took 15
minutes. Why the heck would it be faster to move the data and build
multiple indexes incrementally vs adding an index??

Jul 23 '05 #1
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P: n/a
An index on a sorted table is quicker as the indexing process does not need
to reorganized it as its creating the index.

"dfurtney" <df******@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:11**********************@z14g2000cwz.googlegr oups.com...
SQL Server 7/2000: We have reasonably large tables (3,000,000 rows)
that we need to add some indexes for. In a test, it took over 12 hours
to CREATE a new INDEX against this table. One of us suggested that we
create a temp table with the new index and copy the data from the old
table into the new one, then rename it. I understand this took 15
minutes. Why the heck would it be faster to move the data and build
multiple indexes incrementally vs adding an index??

Jul 23 '05 #2

P: n/a
Hi

This seems unlikely.
You did not mention if the table is a heap (i.e. there is no clustered
index).
You probably ran into a case where the data in the old table was so out
of order that building the additional index was constatnly splitting
pages.

Jul 23 '05 #3

P: n/a
dfurtney (df******@hotmail.com) writes:
SQL Server 7/2000: We have reasonably large tables (3,000,000 rows)
that we need to add some indexes for. In a test, it took over 12 hours
to CREATE a new INDEX against this table. One of us suggested that we
create a temp table with the new index and copy the data from the old
table into the new one, then rename it. I understand this took 15
minutes. Why the heck would it be faster to move the data and build
multiple indexes incrementally vs adding an index??


12 hours to create an index for three million rows sounds abnormal.

Of course, if the table did not have a clustered index, but already had
several non-clustered index, and you added a clustered index, then it
will take some time, but still not 12 hours.

One possible reason, is that the CREATE INDEX process was blocked by
another process most of the time.

--
Erland Sommarskog, SQL Server MVP, es****@sommarskog.se

Books Online for SQL Server SP3 at
http://www.microsoft.com/sql/techinf...2000/books.asp
Jul 23 '05 #4

P: n/a
The table, vehicle_history, had a clustered primary key and 2
additional indexes. We were adding an additional index on a single
integer column. That column was filled with a single default value of
0 in this case. It was running on a dedicated QA server.

We want to add this index to speed up a query against the new column.
But we found it was taking much longer than we expected to add the
index. The only thing that seemed somewhat unusual is the size of the
table.

Jul 23 '05 #5

P: n/a
dfurtney (df******@hotmail.com) writes:
The table, vehicle_history, had a clustered primary key and 2
additional indexes. We were adding an additional index on a single
integer column. That column was filled with a single default value of
0 in this case. It was running on a dedicated QA server.

We want to add this index to speed up a query against the new column.
But we found it was taking much longer than we expected to add the
index. The only thing that seemed somewhat unusual is the size of the
table.


Does all three million rows have 0 in this column? In that case it would
not be a very good index.

I have no idea whether large amount of duplicate values could be reason
that creating the index so long. I still lean towards that there was some-
thing else, for instance blocking, that was the cause. It simply doesn't
take 12 hours to create a non-clustered index on a three-million row table.
--
Erland Sommarskog, SQL Server MVP, es****@sommarskog.se

Books Online for SQL Server SP3 at
http://www.microsoft.com/sql/techinf...2000/books.asp
Jul 23 '05 #6

P: n/a
The query/index would be used by a subset of our customers that utilize
a specific feature of the product. For them, the values would be
non-zero, of course, and the resulting index quite selective. However,
we were going to add the index for all customers since we generally
don't know what functionaly they will be utilizing. This dataset was
from a customer not using that function.

I thought it was awfully long and one of my co-workers was going to do
some testing. What order of time would you expect?

Jul 23 '05 #7

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dfurtney (df******@hotmail.com) writes:
The query/index would be used by a subset of our customers that utilize
a specific feature of the product. For them, the values would be
non-zero, of course, and the resulting index quite selective. However,
we were going to add the index for all customers since we generally
don't know what functionaly they will be utilizing. This dataset was
from a customer not using that function.

I thought it was awfully long and one of my co-workers was going to do
some testing. What order of time would you expect?


The below script which emulates the situation you have described ran
in eight minutes on my workstation, a 2.8 GHz HT box with 1 GB of RAM
(but with SQL Server constrained to some 120 MB), running Windows XP SP2.
The particular part of creating a non-clustered index on a column with
non-variant values took 30 seconds. (But then all data was in cache.)

Of course, not only number of rows count, but the size of the rows as
well, since wider the rows, the more pages you get. Then again, for
the sorting phase there are still only three million rows.

It occurred to me that one thing you could have run into is autogrow.
If the database is 300 GB, and you have 10% autogrow and this happens to
set in during the index creation, you're in for a pause. Initializing
30 GB of data does take some time. Not 12 hours though. 20-30 minutes
may be expected.

use master
go
drop database klump
go
create database klump
go
use klump
go
select TOP 3000000 klumpid = identity(int, 1, 1),
slaskcol = 0,
a.* into klump
from Northwind..Orders a
cross join Northwind..Orders b
cross join Northwind..Orders c
go
ALTER TABLE klump ADD CONSTRAINT pk_klump PRIMARY KEY (klumpid)
go
CREATE INDEX orderidix ON klump (OrderID)
CREATE INDEX customerid ON klump (CustomerID)
go
SELECT getdate()
go
CREATE INDEX slaskix ON klump(slaskcol)
go
SELECT getdate()

--
Erland Sommarskog, SQL Server MVP, es****@sommarskog.se

Books Online for SQL Server SP3 at
http://www.microsoft.com/sql/techinf...2000/books.asp
Jul 23 '05 #8

P: n/a
Although this happened twice on two machines when analyzing the upgrade
script via profiler -- our latest attempts to isolate what is happening
ended up not reproducing our earlier results. The indexes are building
in 2 minutes when tested in isolation outside the script. The only
operation which we have reliably reproduced as slow is adding a column
with a default value to a large table - which is taking on the order of
20 minutes in the million row range. We do this a number of times. We
don't yet have an explanation for why the script took so long, although
we are running the analysis one more time as I speak.

Sorry to have presented you with a problem that didn't reproduce - but
we were about to make some drastic changes based on the faulty
assumption that building million row indexes was much more expensive
then it really is. I appreciate the help you folks have provided!

Jul 23 '05 #9

P: n/a
dfurtney (df******@hotmail.com) writes:
Although this happened twice on two machines when analyzing the upgrade
script via profiler -- our latest attempts to isolate what is happening
ended up not reproducing our earlier results. The indexes are building
in 2 minutes when tested in isolation outside the script. The only
operation which we have reliably reproduced as slow is adding a column
with a default value to a large table - which is taking on the order of
20 minutes in the million row range. We do this a number of times.
This sounds like a perfectly normal time for such an operation. Since
this column has to be copied into every row, the entire table has to
be rewritten. And unless every page bas bytes to spare for the new column,
you also get rows rearranged, and it is not a simple update in place.

In this case, it can sometimes be better to create a new table and
copy data over. (This in fact what we always do in our update scripts,
although that more has to do with the greater flexibility this
technique offers.)
Sorry to have presented you with a problem that didn't reproduce - but
we were about to make some drastic changes based on the faulty
assumption that building million row indexes was much more expensive
then it really is. I appreciate the help you folks have provided!


Oh, never mind! I think your concern was very valid, and I am glad to
have helped by telling you that it must have been a false alarm.

--
Erland Sommarskog, SQL Server MVP, es****@sommarskog.se

Books Online for SQL Server SP3 at
http://www.microsoft.com/sql/techinf...2000/books.asp
Jul 23 '05 #10

P: n/a
I suggest the real issue is:
The only operation which we have reliably reproduced as slow is adding a column with a default value to a large table - which is taking on the order of 20 minutes in the million row range. We do this a number of times.


Why would you frequently add columns to a three million row table?

As far as selectivity goes, you don't gain any advantage to having a
default value of 0 vs. having a default value of NULL - it is a
disadvantage because you are frequently adding columns to a 3,000,000
row table. If the default value is NULL, SQL Server does not have to
rebuild the table when you add the value - NULL is nothing as far as
SQL Server is concerned.

The statistics histogram, based on only a select few companies having
this feature, would look something like:
_________________________|

Jul 23 '05 #11

P: n/a
Point well taken regarding NULL vs 0. The reason we use 0 instead of
NULL is because most of the software and reporting is "confused" by
nulls. MFC recordsets return the inconvenient tvalue of

#define AFX_RFX_LONG_PSEUDO_NULL (0x4a4d4120L)

for null integers unless you specifically write code to check for null.
We have a large, old codebase which has no null handling code.

This is a function/service pack, so we commonly add a number of new
fields to support new functionality. In our 3rd test, the upgrade
script took 3 hours - which is in the "normal" range. I guess we are
going to attribute the earlier results as anomalous for now and monitor
for another occurrence. The index is useless for customers not
utilizing the feature, however, if the cost is only 2 minutes, it is
easier to just add the index for all customers. For those customers
using the feature/index, it is highly selective.

Jul 23 '05 #12

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