Tips and Tricks for Optimizing Database Performance

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If you’re a DBA, you know how easy to is to get wrapped up in the details of performance tuning and overlook the big picture. It’s important to maintain a set of goals and guidelines to keep you heading on the right track and focused on the things that matter. Over time, we’ve developed a few rules of thumb that have never steered us wrong. These tips and tricks for optimizing database performance are ones that you won’t necessarily find in a textbook, but they’ll help you meet your database performance goals without driving yourself crazy in the process. Let’s dive in and take a look at each one.

Tips for Optimizing Database Performance

1. Know when to stop tuning

Performance tuning is a balancing act. While there are times when it makes sense to dig in and fine-tune a query to its maximum performance, there are certain situations where this level of tuning becomes little more than a time suck, taking your attention away from other tasks on your plate. If you’ve tuned performance to the point where it meets the service level that’s been defined for the business users, it’s safe to call it done.

2. Stay focused

When you’re working on one aspect of performance tuning, try to stay focused on the task on hand. This rule of thumb is easier said than done, but it’s a valuable one to follow. Database management systems are complex by nature, and when you’re tuning one part of the database, it’s common to spot problems in another part. When you start trying to tune a number of things at once, things tend to get messy– it becomes impossible to gauge each tuning task’s impact on the overall environment. Instead, try documenting any problems you find along the way, but continue working on the original tuning task until it’s complete.

3. Know what you don’t know

It often seems like DBAs are expected to be endless fonts of knowledge about the DBMS they manage, and it’s normal to feel nervous when you encounter questions you can’t answer. No need to panic– it’s not possible to know everything. The key is to know where to find your answers and who to ask when you need help.

4. Teach your colleagues how to find answers

Sometimes it seems like everyone turns to the DBA when they have any sort of question or problem related to databases and their management. This comes as no surprise, since the DBA is typically the person in the organization who knows the most about these topics. However, your time is valuable, and there are probably more than a few occasions when these issues could be resolved with a simple online search. Don’t be shy– there’s nothing wrong with gently asking people if they tried Googling their question or if they consulted the manual first.

5. Remember the value of good communication

Being able to communicate well will have a big impact on your ability to keep things running smoothly as a DBA. One of the unofficial duties of a DBA is to serve as a sort of communications center for any and all database issues. This means you’ll need to communicate information and ideas to a wide variety of people, from highly technical developers to non-technical business users. Always remember that the world of database technology comes with its own jargon, and not everyone is going to “speak the same language” as you. Be sure that you’re able to use the right terms to get your point across to any audience.

6. Accept the things you cannot change

Every DBA knows how helpful it would be if their organization was more proactive and dedicated to preventing problems before they cropped up; however, in most cases, organizations simply don’t have the budget and time to devote to this. It’s wiser for DBAs to accept this reality and make the best of the resources they have.


For DBAs, performance is a top priority– an application’s value often hinges on its ability to access data. As a DBA, one of your primary responsibilities is to tune and optimize database performance so that applications and end users can get the data they need as quickly as possible. Keep this set of tips and tricks in mind as you plan and execute your own performance-tuning strategy, and you’ll find it easier to stay on track and meet your performance goals. Tips Tricks Optimizing Database Performance

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