We are using clustered columnstore indexes and partitions in SQL Server 2014. Some tables have a lot of updates and we find ourselves with a lot of deleted rows for some partitions. In our tests, a rebuild reduces the table size to a third and improves 10% performance.

Besides checking sys.column_store_row_groups for deleted_rows, is there any other indicator for columnstore indexes fragmentation we can use to identify which partitions/tables should be rebuilt?


2 Answers 2


Firstly, you may want to apply COMPRESSION_DELAY option for those COLUMNSTORE INDEXES to reduce the fragmentation as deleting compressed rows would cause significant fragmentation and the storage remain used even for deleted rows, eventually there is negative impact on the performance.

Further reading:

While the expected feature still open in most recommended maintenance solution, you may want to start with following script (copied from source)

Rebuild index statement is printed at partition level if
    a. RGQualityMeasure is not met for @PercentageRGQualityPassed Rowgroups
-- this is an arbitrary number, what we are saying is that if the average is above this number, don't bother rebuilding as we consider this number to be good quality rowgroups
    b. Second constraint is the Deleted rows, currently the default that is set am setting is 10% of the partition itself. If the partition is very large or small consider adjusting this
    c. In SQL 2014, post index rebuild,the dmv doesn't show why the RG is trimmed to < 1 million in this case in SQL 2014.
- If the Dictionary is full (16MB) then no use in rebuilding this rowgroup as even after rebuild it may get trimmed
- If dictionary is full only rebuild if deleted rows falls above the threshold

if object_id('tempdb..#temp') IS NOT NULL
drop table #temp

Declare @DeletedRowsPercent Decimal (5,2)

-- Debug = 1 if you need all rowgroup information regardless
Declare @Debug int = 0

-- Percent of deleted rows for the partition
Set @DeletedRowsPercent = 10

-- RGQuality means we are saying anything over 500K compressed is good row group quality, anything less need to re-evaluate.
Declare @RGQuality int = 500000

-- means 50% of rowgroups are < @RGQUality from the rows/rowgroup perspective
Declare @PercentageRGQualityPassed smallint = 20

;WITH CSAnalysis
(SELECT     object_id,object_name(object_id) as TableName, 
            count(*) as CountRGs, 
            sum(total_rows) as TotalRows, 
            Avg(total_rows) as AvgRowsPerRG,
            SUM(CASE WHEN rg.Total_Rows < @RGQuality THEN 1 ELSE 0 END) as CountRGLessThanQualityMeasure, 
            @RGQuality as RGQualityMeasure,
                        WHEN rg.Total_Rows < @RGQuality THEN 1.0 ELSE 0 
                      END) / count(*) * 100) as Decimal(5,2)) as PercentageRGLessThanQualityMeasure,
            Sum(rg.deleted_rows * 1.0) / sum(rg.total_rows * 1.0) * 100 as DeletedRowsPercent,
            sum (case when rg.deleted_rows > 0 then 1 else 0 end ) as NumRowgroupsWithDeletedRows
FROM sys.column_store_row_groups rg
where rg.state = 3
group by rg.object_id, rg.partition_number,index_id

( select     max(dict.on_disk_size) as maxdictionarysize
            ,max(dict.entry_count) as maxdictionaryentrycount
            ,max(partition_number) as maxpartition_number
from    sys.column_store_dictionaries dict
join    sys.partitions part 
        on dict.hobt_id = part.hobt_id
group by part.object_id, part.partition_number

select  a.*, 
into #temp 
from        CSAnalysis a
inner join  CSDictionaries b
            on a.object_id = b.object_id 
            and a.partition_number = b.partition_number

-- Maxdop Hint optionally added to ensure we don't spread small amount of rows accross many threads
-- IF we do that, we may end up with smaller rowgroups anyways.

declare @maxdophint smallint, 
        @effectivedop smallint;

-- True if running from the same context that will run the rebuild index.
select @effectivedop = effective_max_dop 
from sys.dm_resource_governor_workload_groups
where group_id in (select group_id from sys.dm_exec_requests where session_id = @@spid)

-- Get the Alter Index Statements.
select  'Alter INDEX ' + QuoteName(IndexName) + ' ON ' + QuoteName(TableName) + ' REBUILD ' +
        when maxpartition_number = 1 THEN ' '
        else ' PARTITION = ' + cast(partition_number as varchar(10))
        + ' WITH (MAXDOP =' + cast((Case WHEN (TotalRows*1.0/1048576) < 1.0 THEN 1 WHEN (TotalRows*1.0/1048576) < @effectivedop THEN FLOOR(TotalRows*1.0/1048576) ELSE 0 END) as varchar(10)) + ')'
        as Command
from #temp a
inner join
        (   select object_id,index_id,Name as IndexName from sys.indexes
            where type in (5,6) -- non clustered columnstore and clustered columnstore
        ) as b
        on b.object_id = a.object_id and a.index_id = b.index_id
where (DeletedRowsPercent >= @DeletedRowsPercent)
-- Rowgroup Quality trigger, percentage less than rowgroup quality as long as dictionary is not full
OR ( ( ( AvgRowsPerRG < @RGQuality and TotalRows > @RGQuality) AND PercentageRGLessThanQualityMeasure>= @PercentageRGQualityPassed)
AND maxdictionarysize < ( 16*1000*1000)) -- DictionaryNotFull, lower threshold than 16MB.
order by TableName,a.index_id,a.partition_number

-- Debug print if needed
if @Debug=1
Select  getdate() as DiagnosticsRunTime, * 
from    #temp
order by TableName, index_id, partition_number


Select getdate() as DiagnosticsRunTime,* 
from #temp
-- Deleted rows trigger
where (DeletedRowsPercent >= @DeletedRowsPercent)
-- Rowgroup Quality trigger, percentage less than rowgroup quality as long as dictionary is not full
OR ( (  ( AvgRowsPerRG < @RGQuality and TotalRows > @RGQuality) AND PercentageRGLessThanQualityMeasure>= @PercentageRGQualityPassed)
        AND maxdictionarysize < ( 16*1000*1000)
    ) -- DictionaryNotFull, lower threshold than 16MB.
order by TableName,index_id,partition_number
-- Add logic to actually run those statements

  • Updates are once a day, so COMPRESSION_DELAY sadly won't help. Dec 5, 2019 at 22:17

My production experience with columnstore indexes is on SQL Server 2016 and later versions but I believe everything in this answer also applies to SQL Server 2014. The simplest answer is that you can look at the ratio of row count and space used by each partition if you prefer to not use the sys.column_store_row_groups dmv. The more complicated answer is that there are many different types of possible fragmentation for a columnstore index. The most important ones to you depend on your data and workload.

  1. Compressed deleted rows - this is the one that you mentioned in your question. The deleted rows take up space and serve no useful purpose.

  2. Rows in delta rowgroups - these are rows that haven't been compressed (yet) - if you end up with too many you can see an impact to query performance.

  3. Compressed rowgroups not of the maximum size (1048576 rows) - for a variety of reasons you can end up with compressed rowgroups with a row count less than 1048576. Microsoft claims that tables typically get the best compression if the rowgroup row count is maximized. In my experience this varies depending on the data. I see no measurable difference with our data model.

  4. Misaligned segments - you may be loading your data in an order to get highly selective rowgroup elimination on key columns. If data ends up out of the preferred order, such as after a maintenance operation, then it can be considered to be fragmented.

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