SQL Server 2016 Public Preview (CTP2) – Live Query Statistics

I have spent a lot of time at customer locations working on resolving SQL Server performance issues on business critical environments. This also involves helping customers understand how to track down the performance bottlenecks and the remediation steps that need to be taken to remove identified performance bottlenecks. This involves two kinds of troubleshooting: post-mortem analysis and troubleshooting the issue as and when it is happening! Yes, I am talking about live troubleshooting which is a scary thing to do on a production server.

So if you share my deep rooted passion for working on SQL Server performance issues, the Live Query Statistics feature in SQL Server 2016 CTP2 is definitely worth knowing more about!

The Live Query Statistics can be enabled in one of the following ways:

1. Using Management Studio

The screenshot below shows the button which enables the Live Query Statistics. This can be a very powerful tool to troubleshoot bad query performance while the query is actually executing. You actually get insights into the plan and which part of the plan is actually taking time while the query executes.

Live Query Stats button on toolbar

You get a host of information from the Live Query Statistics as seen in the screenshot below. You will be able to pin point the part of the plan which is the culprit because you will have the completion percentage statistics for each and every operator in the plan. The completed operators show you the efficient parts of the plan. Additionally, you also get the time spent in each operator which gives you statistics for identifying the most time consuming part of the plan. And what’s more, you even know how much of the query is completed. This is one of the most common questions that I used to receive from customers while troubleshooting long running queries: “How long will the query take to complete“? Well now, there is an answer!


2. Use Activity Monitor

A new grid has been added in Activity Monitor named “Active Expensive Queries” which allows you to right-click a query and click on the “Show Live Execution Plan” option. Live Query Stats button in Activity Monitor

However, the “Show Live Execution Plan” option will only be enabled if the application  or user:

  • Executes SET STATISTICS XML ON; or SET STATISTICS PROFILE ON; in the target session.

  • The query_post_execution_showplan extended event has been enabled. This is a server wide setting that enable live query statistics on all sessions

And if you are developer, then you can use this feature in conjunction with the Transact-SQL debugger and pin point slow parts of the execution plan while the query is running. A truly powerful way to write and optimize queries! The debugging experience is now enhanced as the live query plan can be used along with breakpoints! The screenshot below shows what the debugging experience would look like.


Do keep in mind that this feature is provided for troubleshooting/debugging slow running query scenarios and should not be kept enabled in production environments. There is a moderate performance impact for collecting and displaying the above mentioned statistics.


Live Query Statistics

Disclaimer: Some information in this topic is preview and subject to change in future releases. Preview information describes new features or changes to existing features in Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Preview 2 (CTP2).


Two starts, one recompile and a confusing place

I used to be regular viewer of the TV Series “Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place” co-starring Ryan Reynolds. The blog post title is a play on that name. In the past week, I have heard about this phenomenon of “one ghost Stmt: Starting” event more than thrice which is what triggered this blog post.

When you are analyzing such a trace file using RML Utilities, you will find an entry in the tblStatements table showing a Statement for a particular Batch Sequence (Column name: BatchSeq) which has a Start Time but no End Time. Additionally the AttnSeq column for that row would have a NULL value indicating that the statement didn’t timeout nor was it cancelled due to a Server/Client side error.

So what is this ghost entry all about. If you manually dig through the profiler trace, you will find that that the Statement in question has a Recompile event associated with it. This is by-design. When a Stored Procedure statement encounters a Recompile event, it would have a SP: StmtStarting event associated with it but no corresponding SP: StmtCompleted event. This can lead to confusion during trace file analysis.

Here is an example illustrating the same. I have a Stored Procedure whose definition is as follows:

CREATE PROC usp_recompile

The Recompile hint is added to forcefully induce a Recompile for the Stored Procedure when it is executed. If you look into the profiler events captured below during the Stored Procedure execution, you will see that there is a SP:StmtStarting event followed by a SP:Recompile and a SP:StmtRecompile event. Then there is another SP:StmtStarting event indicating that the recompile operation is complete and the start of the execution of the SP statement.


Hope this helps clear up the confusion around this topic.

SQL Server Backup Simulator: Cumulative update

The SQL Server Backup Simulator was launched on Microsoft Code Gallery to aid and assist in troubleshooting backup issues related to SQLVDI. Thank you to everyone who has evangelized the tool and provided feedback on the same.

The current release is marked as v1.2.

We released two minor updates for the tool to incorporate the following changes:

  1. SQL Backup Simulator does not report FileVersion instead it reports ProductVersion while reading the sqlvdi.dll information – There was an issue that we uncovered while validating the sqlvdi DLL version which was corrected in v1.1 and is now part of the v1.2 release.

  2. COPY_ONLY feature while simulating backup – The COPY_ONLY feature was added to ensure that the any full backups done for a database by the tool doesn’t break an existing backup chain for a database.

The latest executable can be downloaded from: https://github.com/Microsoft/tigertoolbox/releases/latest