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Is there a way to determine in SQL Server if a view is no longer being used? (without removing it) Ideally i would like to know usage for SQL Server 2000 as well as 2012 if that is possible.

I am upgrading databases and suspect that many of the views are no longer being used, some of the views will be difficult to compile on the new server as they access multiple databases some of which are not being moved to the new server.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Even though this answer has been accepted, please see Jonathan Kehayias' answer below for a much better way to do this.

For SQL Server 2012, you could inspect the plan cache for the name of the view.

DECLARE     @FindSql nvarchar(max) = 'name_of_view';
    /* cp.*, ct.* */
    cp.objtype AS [Type],
    cp.refcounts AS ReferenceCount,
    cp.usecounts AS UseCount,
    cp.size_in_bytes / 1024 AS SizeInKB,
    db_name(ct.dbid) AS [Database],
    CAST(pt.query_plan as xml) as QueryPlan
FROM sys.dm_exec_cached_plans cp
OUTER APPLY sys.dm_exec_text_query_plan(plan_handle, 0, -1) pt
OUTER APPLY sys.dm_exec_sql_text(plan_handle) AS ct
WHERE (ct.text LIKE '%' + @FindSql + '%') OR (pt.query_plan LIKE '%' + @FindSql + '%')
ORDER BY cp.usecounts DESC;

You may want to use DBCC FREEPROCCACHE <sql_plan_handle> with the plan handle of any plans that use the view, then watch the results of the above query to see if it pops up again.

MSSQLTips has a great article on doing this in SQL Server 2000 +

USE Master
    UseCounts, RefCounts,CacheObjtype, ObjType, DB_NAME(dbid) as DatabaseName, SQL
FROM syscacheobjects
WHERE SQL LIKE '%view_name_here%'
ORDER BY dbid,usecounts DESC,objtype
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Thanks, it looks like the UseCount will be very helpful. Still hoping for something similar on SQL Server 2000. – PatFromCanada Apr 9 '13 at 20:43
I added SQL Server 2000 advice to my answer... – Max Vernon Apr 9 '13 at 21:06
Perhaps its not Ideal but I am going to build a simple app to poll using this query, and store the results in a table. I notice that some objects will disappear from the cache during the day and that it is pretty much empty in the morning. All I need is one hit to know the view is active. – PatFromCanada Apr 10 '13 at 18:09

Unfortunately if you want to be 100% accurate, the plan cache isn't going to cut it, because there are all types of scenarios in SQL Server where a plan may not get cached at all. For example, OPTION(RECOMPILE), zero cost plans, optimize for ad hoc workloads and single use plan stubs, etc. Since you want a method that works across 2000-2012 your only real option to guarantee you catch the usage is to use a server-side trace with the Audit Database Object Access event:

You will want to filter on the ObjectType = 8278 so that you only catch Views being accessed:

Then setup a job that pulls the file data in and aggregates the counts up over every couple of hours or even days depending on the data generation rate, and you'll be able to accurately trace out the accessess that are occurring. Yeah I hate Trace as much as the next guy, but this is one of those scenarios where it is the right tool for the task at hand.

FWIW, on 2012 you could use Server Audit or Extended Events for this to track the object access as well, but once you create the Trace definition for 2000, it should be portable for the most part to 2012, and you can use Profiler to generate the scripts to make it much easier to work with.

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This looks super promising but i have not been able to get SQL Server 2000 to log anything for views. If I run a trace for all object types with the event of Objects-Object:Opened, I get no hits. (the help for this event says "Indicates when an object has been accessed, such as for a SELECT, INSERT, or DELETE statement.") There is no object Access Event that I can see. – PatFromCanada Apr 10 '13 at 15:26

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