Analyzing partition usage and skewing

I sometimes want to know how my data is spread across different partitions in a table or index – after all, this can affect performance and storage a great deal, and if the data is really badly skewed, most or all of it could be stuck in a single partition, rendering the partitioning scheme pretty much useless in the first place.

You can use dynamic management views to find out how your data is spread across different partitions, and how those partitions are delimited, in “plain english”. Here’s how!

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Execution order of non-deterministic functions

Here’s a strange insight that I gained when building a test case where I needed some randomized values. In order to generate random values, you can use the NEWID() function, which creates a uniqueidentifier value for each row. But NEWID() comes with a strange behaviour, that some (including me) will consider a bug, while others (including the SQL Server development team) consider it to be “by design”.

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Shrinking tempdb without restarting SQL Server

Ok, so even if you’re a seasoned veteran T-SQL coder, at some time you will write a query that runs away and supersizes the tempdb database. This, in turn, might fill up your disk and cause other server-related problems for you. At that point, you may find out the hard way that shrinking tempdb isn’t like shrinking any other database.

Here are some tricks that I’ve tried successfully – but bear in mind that your mileage may vary.

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