When talking about Partitioned Tables and Indexes for tables with less than 100 partitions,

no nonaligned indexes:

with that I mean:

Nonaligned index

An index partitioned independently from its corresponding table.

That is, the index has a different partition scheme or is placed on a separate filegroup from the base table.

Designing an nonaligned partitioned index can be useful in the following cases:

The base table has not been partitioned.

The index key is unique and it does not contain the partitioning column of the table.

You want the base table to participate in collocated joins with more tables using different join columns

Are there other performance drawbacks than:

1 - slowing down some DBCC commands

2 - Queries that use operators such as TOP or MAX/MIN on columns other than the partitioning column may experience reduced performance with partitioning because all partitions must be evaluated.

3 -

Queries that use partition elimination could have comparable or improved performance with larger number of partitions. Queries that do not use partition elimination could take longer to execute as the number of partitions increases.

3 Answers 3


Expanding upon your list, here are a couple potential downsides that we have come across in real production workloads:

Seeking into multiple partitions

Expanding on the queries that do not use partition elimination could take longer to execute point, there is a specific pattern that is particularly affected: singleton seeks. This operation will become much slower if all (or even a modest subset of) partitions need to be accessed. The skip scan operation essentially performs a seek into every partition that cannot be eliminated.

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Let's say that you have a billion row table (N = 1,000,000,000) with rows divided equally into 1,000 partitions (P = 1,000). A single seek is roughly O(log(N)) ~ 30 in a non-partitioned table. However, this same seek operation becomes roughly O(P*log(N/P)) ~ 20,000 in this hypothetical partitioned table. So the seek now performs over 500x more work if data from all partitions is needed (or sometimes even if it isn't needed, but SQL can't prove that based on your query).

Note that this can come up both when you explicitly query the table for one row (or a small range of rows) and in more complex queries when the partitioned table appears in the innder side of a loop join. The good news is that SQL Server is reasonably good about taking this into account in cost-based optimization, but that still typically means that you get a hash join when a loop-seek into a non-partitioned table would have been far more optimal.

Thread skew in parallel query execution

In parallel query plans, threads are allocated to partitions. If there is one partition that is much larger than the others, queries against the table may be particularly susceptible to thread skew. It's possible that one thread gets too high a proportion of rows and is processing long after the other threads have done their work. This situation can happen with non-partitioned tables as well, but any partition functions that do not equally distribute rows are particularly vulnerable.

See Parallel Query Execution Strategy for Partitioned Objects for a more detailed description of the allocation of threads to partitions. For example:

The query processor uses a parallel execution strategy for queries that select from partitioned objects. As part of the execution strategy, the query processor determines the table partitions required for the query and the proportion of threads to allocate to each partition. In most cases, the query processor allocates an equal or almost equal number of threads to each partition, and then executes the query in parallel across the partitions.


Maybe try work with DPV - Distributed Partition Views. I have had many issues with indexing on partition tables in SQL.

I designed a warehouse using those MSDN instructions - Using Partition Views.

Partitioned views allow the data in a large table to be split into smaller member tables. The data is partitioned between the member tables based on ranges of data values in one of the columns. The data ranges for each member table are defined in a CHECK constraint specified on the partitioning column. A view that uses UNION ALL to combine selects of all the member tables into a single result set is then defined. When SELECT statements referencing the view specify a search condition on the partition column, the query optimizer uses the CHECK constraint definitions to determine which member table contains the rows.


I know this is an old post, but even today (in 2022), I find that SQL Server is very particular about data types.

If you partition by a DateTime2(0) your where clause must have a DateTime2(0) on both sides, as in

WHERE t.MyTimeStamp > Cast('2022-11-01' as datetime2(0))

in order to get a reliable partition elimination.

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