Quick win - check your table variable use

Quick wins are awesome. Making a change that takes minimal effort and yields a significant performance improvement is very satisfying.

This particular potential quick win relates to the use of table variables vs. temporary tables. Have a non-trivial stored procedure that produces some intermediary results and stores in a table variable which then goes on to be used further in the stored procedure? Consider evaluating a switch to a temporary table instead. This very quick change, can give a great performance boost for such little effort due to the points outlined on MSDN (quote):

table variables are not supported in the SQL Server optimizer’s cost-based reasoning model. Therefore, they should not be used when cost-based choices are required to achieve an efficient query plan. Temporary tables are preferred when cost-based choices are required. This typically includes queries with joins, parallelism decisions, and index selection choices.

Queries that modify table variables do not generate parallel query execution plans. Performance can be affected when very large table variables, or table variables in complex queries, are modified. In these situations, consider using temporary tables instead……Queries that read table variables without modifying them can still be parallelized.

Indexes cannot be created explicitly on table variables, and no statistics are kept on table variables. In some cases, performance may improve by using temporary tables instead, which support indexes and statistics.

I’ve seen cases where this alone, with no other modifications, results in noticeable better performance. This could then be built on further by adding supporting indices. Of course, you should be considering whether you need temporary tables/table variables at all in your stored procedure. If you can remove the need entirely, then look to do that.

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