I have a large Product table:

ProductID ProductName
1 Product 1
2 Product 2
... ...
n Product n

whereas n is around 2,000,000.

To limit product availability to a certain country, I have a second ProductCountryRestriction table:

ProductID CountryCode IncludeExclude
1 USA 0
1 UK 0
2 AUS 1
2 NZ 1

If a product is restricted to one or more countries, I will then add product- included countries to this table with IncludeExclude = 0. For example Product 1 is available for USA and UK only.

If a product is valid for all countries except some countries, I will then add product - excluded countries to this table with IncludeExclude = 1. For example Product 2 is available for all countries except AUS and NZ.

All country codes corresponding to a product must either be set as IncludeExclude = 0 or as IncludeExclude = 1. The mixing of 0 and 1 is not allowed. For example, there are records with IncludeExclude = 0 for Product 1, I can't add a record with ProductID = 1 and IncludeExclude = 1 to this table.

An user of the system can select several countries to work with. The user preference is stored in UserCountry table:

UserID CountryCode
1 NZ

So the User 1 can see Product 1 because it is available for USA. He can also see Product 2 because the Product 2 is also available for USA (although it is excluded from NZ). Here is my query to get all available products for an user:

DECLARE @UserID int = 1;

FROM Product P
        SELECT * FROM ProductCountryRestriction PCR 
            PCR.ProductId = P.ProductId
            AND PCR.IncludeExclude = 0 
            AND PCR.CountryCode IN (SELECT CountryCode FROM UserCountry WHERE UserID = @UserID)
        SELECT * FROM UserCountry UC
        WHERE UserID = @UserID
            AND UC.CountryCode NOT IN (SELECT CountryCode FROM ProductCountryRestriction PCR WHERE PCR.ProductId = P.ProductId AND PCR.IncludeExclude = 1)

This query works as expected but it introduces poor performance. What can I do to improve it? I don't mind to change the DB design. Thank you for reading my question! I will be grateful for any help you can provide.

Edited 12/31/2020 - Added execution plan as suggested by @J.D. Please check this link for the plan: https://www.brentozar.com/pastetheplan/?id=BywbFaqaw

  • Can you please update your answer with the Actual Execution Plan? You can upload it on Paste The Plan and link it in your post.
    – J.D.
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 13:45
  • It might be simpler and faster to have separate ProductInclusion and ProductExclusion tables. And have a Countries table.
    – Schwern
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 1:17
  • Hi @J.D., I've updated the post with actual execution plan. Please check.
    – T.Giang
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 3:56
  • @Schwern I've tried to separate the table as per your suggestion. It is a bit faster but still slow.
    – T.Giang
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 4:04

1 Answer 1


Since wrote you won't mind changing the design... Change the design.

Instead of that complicated logic with the flag and implicit inclusions/exclusions, just have a table that maps products to countries. Let's simply call it productcountry. If, and only if, a record for a country exists for a product in productcountry the product is available in that country.

The query then just uses some JOINs and a WHERE.

       FROM product p
            INNER JOIN productcountry pc
                       ON pc.productid = p.productid
            INNER JOIN usercountry uc
                       ON uc.countrycode = pc.countrycode
       WHERE uc.userid = @userid;

For that you should try indexes on usercountry (userid, countrycode), productcountry (countrycode, productid) and product (id).

It will need a DISTINCT though because a product can be available in more than one country a user uses. (I silently assume here that the products are distinct by themselves, i.e. they have a key.) You can experiment, if you yield a better plan, if you instead use EXISTS and a correlated subquery.

       FROM product p
                            FROM productcountry pc
                                 INNER JOIN usercountry uc
                                            ON uc.countrycode = pc.countrycode
                            WHERE uc.userid = @userid
                                  AND pc.productid = p.productid);

Here you can try indexes on usercountry (userid, countrycode) and productcountry (productid, countrycode).

  • Thank @sticky bit very much for the answer! I believe this is 90% accepted answer :). Since my DB design is based on what the users do in the UI, I will need to change some back-end logic to make sure it does not affect user experience. (In the UI, when create/edit a product, user still wants to select some countries and mark them as not available). I will wait for someone else who come up with query tuning suggestions before accepting your answer :)
    – T.Giang
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 9:21
  • 2
    @T.Giang: I suspected something like that. But (at least in this case), don't apply font end logic to the database design. The database is the part that should store the data in an optimal way. It's the front end's job to present it in an optimal way, not the DB's. Often a one on one mapping isn't possible and there has to be some conversion done. Here you could try to do the conversion in the DB by procedures or updateable views. But I think it's probably easier to do that in your application. And even if the conversion logic goes to the DB that wouldn't change the underlying DB design.
    – sticky bit
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 9:34
  • Got it! Many thanks for your advices and detailed explanation!
    – T.Giang
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 10:06
  • 2
    Sometimes such a design is the best way to do it. For example, if a country gets added, do we automatically include it in all products? If so, this setup is correct. I would prob do two separate tables: Includes and Excludes Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 14:25
  • 1
    @stickybit Just want to be clear you're not suggesting that schema design shouldn't ever consider the size of the data. I know this is a tangential point to this question but in case anyone else reads this, amount of data definitely can influence schema design, if not then design patterns like Snowflake and Star schema wouldn't exist, etc.
    – J.D.
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 4:38

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