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SQL Tuned: How to optimize your SQL queries for better performance

SQL Tuned
SQL Tuned

SQL Tuned is a site dedicated to helping SQL developers improve their SQL performance, and there are thousands of examples for every database management system (MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL) and the type of query you might have. While there isn’t an equivalent in the Python world yet, the site can still help you improve the speed of your Python code too. Here’s how to use SQL Tuned to optimize your Python queries and make them run faster.


What is SQL tuning?

A SQL query can consume a lot of resources, particularly with large datasets. And if a single SQL query uses up too many system resources, it’s likely that other queries will suffer as well. What is SQL tuning? There are several steps you can take to make sure that you get the maximum benefit from using SQL in your development projects. Fortunately, SQL tuning is not very difficult or time-consuming once you know how to do it correctly. That’s what we’ll talk about in our SQL Tuned tutorial.


Optimizing basic queries

The first step in SQL tuning is learning how to write efficient SQL. We’ll provide a solid grounding in optimizing basic types of queries (select, insert, update, delete) that should be sufficient for most applications. Even if you aren’t an Oracle DBA or developer, there’s a high likelihood you will have some sort of day-to-day interaction with SQL—even if it’s just creating scripts and writing procedures. In that case, knowing how best to use each command can make a big difference when it comes time to troubleshoot and optimize issues with existing databases. The same principles apply across all major database systems—and even newer solutions like Hadoop and NoSQL—so having knowledge of these fundamentals will serve you well regardless of your chosen path in IT.


Optimizing joins

If a query involves multiple joins and is taking longer than it should, chances are there’s a way to improve its performance. But identifying how you can improve things on a case-by-case basis can be tedious work—and even database experts find that indexing takes time. That’s where SQL tuned comes in handy. The online SQL tuning tool analyzes any given SQL statement, identifies opportunities for optimization, and suggests solutions. It also gives you suggestions based on specific hardware configurations, so if you know what kind of server will be running your application, SQL tuned will account for that as well. For example, if a query needs to run on a system with 1GB of RAM but only has 512MB available (not uncommon), SQL tuned will suggest ways to speed up execution by using indexes or partitioning tables. The service costs $19 per month per server but can save hours of research time when optimizing complex queries.


Optimizing larger queries

Large, complex queries can take more time to process than their smaller counterparts. In some cases, even if you have an optimized query, if it’s large enough, it may not run as quickly as you would like. Depending on your database and tables, there are a few things you can do. For example, data compression and increased disk I/O can make a big difference with larger queries and in turn, make them run faster. If these options aren’t available or practical within your environment, there are other ways to optimize larger queries and execute them faster including running them less frequently (via stored procedures) or breaking up a query into smaller chunks that each run quicker by taking advantage of parallel processing across different servers or workstations.


Best practices for writing optimized code

SQL Tuned is a great resource that explains how you can get more out of SQL by implementing some of its best practices. One thing I really liked about SQL Tuned was how organized and consistent it was in its approach. Every best practice is labeled with what makes it a best practice, why you would want to implement it, and then a full example (usually with code) of how to do so. For developers like myself that don’t work in SQL all day, I found these examples extremely valuable when starting out and they quickly became my favorite part of reading through each section.



SQL is one of the core technologies that run businesses today, and those SQL statements can have an enormous impact on business performance. But writing efficient SQL statements isn’t easy. In fact, it requires not only extensive knowledge but also a little bit of creativity when thinking about how you can best filter down results from large amounts of data in different ways. If you find yourself needing help with optimizing your SQL statements, there are plenty of resources out there—such as SQL tuned—that will help get you going.


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