I am in the process of improving performance on our database application. While I am not a DBA, I am pretty comfortable with SQL. I am after a book that can help me understand how queries written in different ways affect performance and also understanding things like table scans, indexes an statistics.

I don't just want to blindly add everything the tuning advisor says so I am looking for the knowledge required to assess these recommendations in the context our environment and how to fully utilise the tools available. I am working with MSSQL2008+ so a book the utilises this environment specific would be good.

Thanks in advance

3 Answers 3


I like Kalen Delaney's internals book:

I also like the Brent Ozar / Christian Bolton book:

For T-SQL tuning, you can't get much a better T-SQL wizard than Itzik Ben-Gan:

And query tuning overall, Grant Fritchey and Sajal Dam:

There are also some interesting solutions and opinions presented in various chapters in the two MVP Deep Dives titles (from which all proceeds go to two charities, War Child and Operation Smile):

And a couple of the Red Gate titles @Kev left out, but which are both excellent:

  • 2
    +1. The only one I'd add to that is Grant Fritchey's SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled. Jun 7, 2012 at 13:11
  • By all means, please do. Jun 7, 2012 at 13:45
  • 1
    +1 This is a solid DBA bundle for perf tuning! I am so bookmarking this! Jun 7, 2012 at 18:34

Red Gate have a good set of books about performance and tuning, specifically:

Most of these are available as free downloadable PDFs

  • Thank you, I do love the word "free". How would these compare to a paid book? I should have added I am happy to pay what is needed for a good book.
    – TheRealTy
    Jun 7, 2012 at 10:51
  • You can pay for a paper copy :) I find these books very good!
    – Kev Riley
    Jun 7, 2012 at 11:25
  • @tyrongower it depends on whether you are comfortable with e-books or not. Personally I like to hold a physical book in my hand. But they do have a good series of excellent books by reputable authors. Jun 7, 2012 at 12:48
  • @AaronBertrand I'm the same way. I just need a physical book. Not much into e-readers either. Jun 7, 2012 at 13:44

Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2005: Query Tuning and Optimization by Kalen Delaney is one of the best books I have read. Although the title of the book is on SQL Server 2005 this applies to SQL Server 2008 or 2008 R2.

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