Best Practice with the Query Store

THIS TOPIC APPLIES TO: yesSQL ServeryesAzure SQL DatabasenoAzure SQL Data Warehouse noParallel Data Warehouse

This topic outlines the best practices for using the Query Store with your workload.

Use the latest SQL Server Management Studio

SQL Server Management Studio has set of user interfaces designed for configuring Query Store as well as for consuming collected data about your workload.
Download the latest version of Management Studio here.

For a quick description on how to use Query Store in troubleshooting scenarios refer to Query Store @Azure Blogs.

Use Query Performance Insight in Azure SQL Database

If you run Query Store in SQL Database you can use Query Performance Insight to analyze DTU consumption over time.
While you can use Management Studio to get detailed resource consumption for all your queries (CPU, memory, IO, etc.), Query Performance Insight gives you a quick and efficient way to determine their impact on overall DTU consumption for your database.
For more information, see Azure SQL Database Query Performance Insight.

Using Query Store with Elastic Pool Databases

You can use Query Store in all databases without concerns, in even densely packed pools. All issues related to excessive resource usage, that might have occurred when Query Store was enabled for the large number of databases in the Elastic Pools, have been resolved.

Keep Query Store adjusted to your workload

Configure Query Store based on your workload and performance troubleshooting requirements.
The default parameters are good for a quick start but you should monitor how Query Store behaves over time and adjust its configuration accordingly:


Here are guidelines to follow for setting parameter values:

Max Size (MB): Specifies the limit for the data space that Query Store will take inside your database. This is the most important setting that directly affects operation mode of the Query Store.

While Query Store collects queries, execution plans and statistics, its size in the database grows until this limit is reached. When that happens, Query Store automatically changes the operation mode to read-only and stops collecting new data, which means that your performance analysis is no longer accurate.

The default value (100 MB) may not be sufficient if your workload generates large number of different queries and plans or if you want to keep query history for a longer period of time. Keep track of current space usage and increase the Max Size (MB) to prevent Query Store from transitioning to read-only mode. Use Management Studio or execute the following script to get the latest information about Query Store size:

USE [QueryStoreDB];  

SELECT actual_state_desc, desired_state_desc, current_storage_size_mb,   
    max_storage_size_mb, readonly_reason  
FROM sys.database_query_store_options;  

The following script sets a new Max Size (MB):


Statistics Collection Interval: Defines level of granularity for the collected runtime statistic (the default is 1 hour). Consider using lower value if you require finer granularity or less time to detect and mitigate issues but keep in mind that it will directly affect the size of Query Store data. Use SSMS or Transact-SQL to set different value for Statistics Collection Interval:


Stale Query Threshold (Days): Time-based cleanup policy that controls the retention period of persisted runtime statistics and inactive queries.
By default, Query Store is configured to keep the data for 30 days which may be unnecessarily long for your scenario.

Avoid keeping historical data that you do not plan to use. This will reduce changes to read-only status. The size of Query Store data as well as the time to detect and mitigate the issue will be more predictable. Use Management Studio or the following script to configure time-based cleanup policy:


Size Based Cleanup Mode: Specifies whether automatic data cleanup will take place when Query Store data size approaches the limit.

It is strongly recommended to activate size-based cleanup to makes sure that Query Store always runs in read-write mode and collects the latest data.


Query Store Capture Mode: Specifies the query capture policy for the Query Store.

  • All – Captures all queries. This is the default option.

  • Auto – Infrequent queries and queries with insignificant compile and execution duration are ignored. Thresholds for execution count, compile and runtime duration are internally determined.

  • None – Query Store stops capturing new queries.

    The following script sets the Query Capture mode to Auto:


How to start with query performance troubleshooting

Troubleshooting workflow with Query Store is simple, as shown on the following diagram:


Enable Query Store by using Management Studio as described in the previous section, or execute the following Transact-SQL statement:


It will take some time until Query Store collects the data set that accurately represents your workload. Usually, one day is enough even for very complex workloads. However, you can start exploring the data and identify queries that need your attention immediately after you enabled the feature.
Navigate to the Query Store sub-folder under the database node in Object Explorer of Management Studio to open troubleshooting views for specific scenarios.
Management Studio Query Store views operate with the set of execution metrics, each expressed as any of the following statistic functions:

SQL Server version Execution metric Statistic function
SQL Server 2016 CPU time, Duration, Execution Count, Logical Reads, Logical writes, Memory consumption, Physical Reads, CLR time, Degree of Parallelism (DOP), and Row count Average, Maximum, Minimum, Standard Deviation, Total
SQL Server 2017 CPU time, Duration, Execution Count, Logical Reads, Logical writes, Memory consumption, Physical Reads, CLR time, Degree of Parallelism (DOP), Row count, Log memory, TempDB memory, and Wait times Average, Maximum, Minimum, Standard Deviation, Total

The following graphic shows how to locate Query Store views:


The following table explains when to use each of the Query Store views:

SSMS view Scenario
Regressed Queries Pinpoint queries for which execution metrics have recently regressed (i.e. changed to worse).
Use this view to correlate observed performance problems in your application with the actual queries that needs to be fixed or improved.
Overall Resource Consumption Analyze the total resource consumption for the database for any of the execution metrics.
Use this view to identify resource patterns (daily vs. nightly workloads) and optimize overall consumption for your database.
Top Resource Consuming Queries Choose an execution metric of interest and identify queries that had the most extreme values for a provided time interval.
Use this view to focus your attention on the most relevant queries which have the biggest impact to database resource consumption.
Queries With Forced Plans Lists previously forced plans using Query Store.
Use this view to quickly access all currently forced plans.
Queries With High Variation Analyze queries with high execution variation as it relates to any of the available dimensions, such as Duration, CPU time, IO, and Memory usage in the desired time interval.
Use this view to identify queries with widely variant performance that can be impacting user experience across your applications.
Tracked Queries Track the execution of the most important queries in real-time. Typically, you use this view when you have queries with forced plans and you want to make sure that query performance is stable.


For a detailed description how to use Management Studio to identify the top resource consuming queries and fix those that regressed due to the change of a plan choice, see Query Store @Azure Blogs.

When you identify a query with sub-optimal performance, your action depends on the nature of the problem.

  • If the query was executed with multiple plans and the last plan is significantly worse than previous plan, you can use the plan forcing mechanism to force SQL Server to always use the optimal plan for future executions.



The above graphic may feature different shapes for specific query plans, with the following meanings for each possible status:

Shape Meaning
Circle Query Completed (Regular Execution successfully finished)
Square Cancelled (Client initiated aborted execution)
Triangle Failed (Exception aborted execution)

Also, the size of the shape reflects query execution count within the specified time interval, increasing in size with a higher number of executions.

  • You may conclude that your query is missing an index for optimal execution. This information is surfaced within the query execution plan. Create the missing index and check the query performance using the Query Store.


    If you run your workload on SQL Database, sign up for SQL Database Index Advisor to automatically receive index recommendations.

  • In some cases you may enforce statistic recompilation if you see that the difference between the estimated and the actual number of rows in the execution plan is significant.

  • Rewrite problematic queries. For example to take advantages of query parameterization or to implement more optimal logic.

Verify Query Store is collecting query data continuously

Query Store can silently change operations mode. You should regularly monitor the state of the Query Store to ensure that the Query Store is operating, and to take action to avoid failures due to preventable causes. Execute the following query to determine the operation mode and view the most relevant parameters:

USE [QueryStoreDB];  

SELECT actual_state_desc, desired_state_desc, current_storage_size_mb,   
    max_storage_size_mb, readonly_reason, interval_length_minutes,   
    stale_query_threshold_days, size_based_cleanup_mode_desc,   
FROM sys.database_query_store_options;  

The difference between the actual_state_desc and desired_state_desc indicates that a change of operations mode occurred automatically. The most common change is for the Query Store to silently switch to read-only mode. In extremely rarely circumstances, Query Store can end up in the ERROR state because of internal errors.

When the actual state is read-only, use the readonly_reason column to determine the root cause. Typically you will find that Query Store transitioned to read-only mode because the size quota was exceeded. In that case the readonly_reason is set to 65536. For other reasons, see sys.database_query_store_options (Transact-SQL).

Consider the following steps to switch Query Store to read-write mode and activate data collection:

  • Increase the maximum storage size by using the MAX_STORAGE_SIZE_MB option of ALTER DATABASE.

  • Clean up Query Store data by using the following statement:


You can apply one or both of these steps by the executing the following statement that explicitly changes operation mode back to read-write:


Take the following steps to be proactive:

  • You can prevent silent changes of operation mode by applying best practices. If you ensure that Query Store size is always below the maximally allowed value that will dramatically reduce a chance of transitioning to read-only mode. Activate size based policy as described in the Configure Query Store section, so that the Query Store automatically cleans data when the size approaches the limit.

  • In order to make sure that most recent data is retained, configure time-based policy to remove stale information regularly.

  • Finally, you should consider setting Query Capture Mode to Auto as it filters out queries that are usually less relevant for your workload.

Error State

To recover Query Store try explicitly setting the read-write mode and check actual state again.


SELECT actual_state_desc, desired_state_desc, current_storage_size_mb,   
    max_storage_size_mb, readonly_reason, interval_length_minutes,   
    stale_query_threshold_days, size_based_cleanup_mode_desc,   
FROM sys.database_query_store_options;  

If the problem persists, it indicates corruption of the Query Store data is persisted on the disk.

Query Store could be recovered by executing sp_query_store_consistency_check stored procedure within the affected database.

If that did not help, you can try to clear Query Store before requesting read-write mode.



SELECT actual_state_desc, desired_state_desc, current_storage_size_mb,   
    max_storage_size_mb, readonly_reason, interval_length_minutes,   
    stale_query_threshold_days, size_based_cleanup_mode_desc,   
FROM sys.database_query_store_options;  

Set the optimal query capture mode

Keep the most relevant data in Query Store. The following table describes typical scenarios for each Query Capture Mode:

Query Capture Mode Scenario
All Analyze your workload thoroughly in terms of all queries shapes and their execution frequencies and other statistics.

Identify new queries in your workload.

Detect if ad-hoc queries are used to identify opportunities for user or auto parameterization.
Auto Focus your attention on relevant and actionable queries; those queries that execute regularly or that have significant resource consumption.
None You have already captured the query set that you want to monitor in runtime and you want to eliminate the distractions that other queries may introduce.

None is suitable for testing and bench-marking environments.

None is also appropriate for software vendors who ship Query Store configuration configured to monitor their application workload.

None should be used with caution as you might miss the opportunity to track and optimize important new queries. Avoid using None unless you have a specific scenario that requires it.

Keep the most relevant data in Query Store

Configure the Query Store to contain only the relevant data and it will run continuously providing great troubleshooting experience with a minimal impact on your regular workload.
The following table provides best practices:

Best Practice Setting
Limit retained historical data. Configure time-based policy to activate auto-cleanup.
Filter out non-relevant queries. Configure Query Capture Mode to Auto.
Delete less relevant queries when maximum size is reached. Activate size-based cleanup policy.

Avoid using non-parameterized queries

Using non-parameterized queries when that is not absolutely necessary (for example in case of ad-hoc analysis) is not a best practice. Cached plans cannot be reused which forces Query Optimizer to compile queries for every unique query text. For more information on this topic, see Guidelines for Using Forced Parameterization.
Also, Query Store can rapidly exceed the size quota because of potentially a large number of different query texts and consequently a large number of different execution plans with similar shape.
As a result, performance of your workload will be sub-optimal and Query Store might switch to read-only mode or might be constantly deleting the data trying to keep up with the incoming queries.

Consider following options:

  • Parameterize queries where applicable, for example wrap queries inside a stored procedure or sp_executesql. For more information on this topic, see Parameters and Execution Plan Reuse.
  • Use the Optimize for Ad Hoc Workloads option if your workload contains many single use ad-hoc batches with different query plans.

    • Compare the number of distinct query_hash values with the total number of entries in sys.query_store_query. If the ratio is close to 1 your ad-hoc workload generates different queries.
  • Apply forced parameterization, for the database or for a subset of queries if the number of different query plans is not large.

    • Use plan guide to force parameterization only for the selected query.

    • Configure forced parameterization as using the Parameterization database option command, if there are a small number of different query plans in your workload: when the ratio between the count of distinct query_hash and the total number of entries in sys.query_store_query is much less than 1.

  • Set the Query Capture Mode to AUTO to automatically filter out ad-hoc queries with small resource consumption.

Avoid a DROP and CREATE pattern when maintaining containing objects for the queries

Query Store associates query entry with a containing object (stored procedure, function, and trigger). When you recreate a containing object, a new query entry will be generated for the same query text. This will prevent you from tracking performance statistics for that query over time and use plan forcing mechanism. To avoid this, use the ALTER <object> process to change a containing object definition whenever it is possible.

Check the status of Forced Plans regularly

Plan forcing is a convenient mechanism to fix performance for the critical queries and make them more predictable. However, as with plan hints and plan guides, forcing a plan is not a guarantee that it will be used in future executions. Typically, when database schema changes in a way that objects referenced by the execution plan are altered or dropped, plan forcing will start failing. In that case SQL Server falls back to query recompilation while the actual forcing failure reason is surfaced in sys.query_store_plan. The following query returns information about forced plans:

USE [QueryStoreDB];  

SELECT p.plan_id, p.query_id, q.object_id as containing_object_id,  
    force_failure_count, last_force_failure_reason_desc  
FROM sys.query_store_plan AS p  
JOIN sys.query_store_query AS q on p.query_id = q.query_id  
WHERE is_forced_plan = 1;  

For full list of reasons, refer to sys.query_store_plan. You can also use the query_store_plan_forcing_failed XEvent to track troubleshoot plan forcing failures.

Avoid renaming databases if you have queries with Forced Plans

Execution plans reference objects using three-part names database.schema.object.

If you rename a database, plan forcing will fail which will cause recompilation in all subsequent query executions.

Use traceflags on mission critical servers to improve recovery from disaster

The global traceflags 7745 and 7752 can be used to improve performance of Query Store during High Availability and Disaster Recovery scenarios. For more information, refer to Trace Flags

Traceflag 7745 will prevent the default behavior where Query Store writes data to disk before SQL Server can be shutdown.

Traceflag 7752 enables asynchronous load of Query Store, and also allows SQL Server to run queries before Query Store has been fully loaded. Default Query Store behavior prevents queries from running before the Query Store has been recovered.

See Also

Query Store Catalog Views (Transact-SQL)
Query Store Stored Procedures (Transact-SQL)
Using the Query Store with In-Memory OLTP
Monitoring Performance By Using the Query Store
Query Processing Architecture Guide