Compare and Analyze Execution Plans

APPLIES TO: yesSQL Server noAzure SQL Database noAzure SQL Data Warehouse noParallel Data Warehouse

This section explains how to compare and analyze execution plans by using Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio.

Execution plans graphically display the data retrieval methods chosen by the SQL Server Query Optimizer. Execution plans represent the execution cost of specific statements and queries in SQL Server using icons rather than the tabular representation produced by the SET SHOWPLAN_ALL or SET SHOWPLAN_TEXT statements. This graphical approach is very useful for understanding the performance characteristics of a query.

SQL Server Management Studio includes functionality that allows users compare two execution plans, for example between perceived good and bad plans for the same query, and perform root cause analysis. Also included is the functionality to perform single query plan analysis, allowing insights into scenarios that may be affecting the performance of a query through analysis of its execution plan.

For more information on query execution plans, see estimated execution plan, actual execution plan, and the Query Processing Architecture Guide.

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