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Find Table Scans in Query Plan Cache

01 August,2015 by Tom Collins

Question: I’m managing a SQL Server with queries running much slower than normal. I’ve analysed the sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats  for heap  scans. To identify the heap statistics I identified rows where the column index_id returned a value of zero.

I’ve identified some heaps with a very high level of usage . How can I find the queries which are creating these large amounts of user scans?

Answer: Using the  sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats  is a good method  to identify heaps. Checking the user scans is a good way of finding clues for inefficient queries. It does not guarantee these queries are the root cause, but it gives you an insight to which queries are consuming high amounts of resources.

Once you’ve found your table – use this query to find queries, in the plan cache. It is possible the query plan cache has been cleared via space management, a SQL Server restart or a DBCC FREESYSTEMCACHE . In that case it won’t be possible to find the query.

This query uses the sys.dm_exec_cached_plans and sys.dm_exec_query_plan SQL Server DMV. Read more on Top 5 SQL Server DMV for Index Analysis - SQL Server DBA



DECLARE @Table_Name sysname = 'my_table_name';
,operators.value('(TableScan/Object/@Schema)[1]','sysname') AS Schema_Name
,operators.value('(TableScan/Object/@Table)[1]','sysname') AS Table_Name
,operators.value('(TableScan/Object/@Index)[1]','sysname') AS Index_Name
,operators.value('@PhysicalOp','nvarchar(50)') AS Physical_Operator
FROM sys.dm_exec_cached_plans cp
CROSS APPLY sys.dm_exec_query_plan(cp.plan_handle) qp
CROSS APPLY query_plan.nodes('//RelOp') rel(operators)
WHERE operators.value('@PhysicalOp','nvarchar(60)') IN ('Table Scan')
AND operators.value('(TableScan/Object/@Table)[1]','sysname') = QUOTENAME(@Table_Name,'[');

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Author: Tom Collins (


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