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Rowstore and Column Store Indexing-Making Life Easier When Searching Data


Imagine most of our bedrooms in our house. We have our belongings cluttered here and there. All hell breaks loose when searching for an important document or an urgent item. You have to call your mom to help you out in the search process. Both of you browse every nook before your house before you can find the desired thing you are searching for. What a waste of time and energy. What if you do it differently? Let the room remain disorderly in a disorderly manner. You have maintained a list of where the items are located inside the room. Whenever you must find an item, you refer to the list. The database also has a similar feature to the above. 

They are called indexes. Indexes are used to quickly locate data without having to search every row in a database table every time a database table is accessed. Indexes can be created using one or more database table columns, providing the basis for rapid random lookups and efficient access to ordered records. Understanding the difference between row store and column store indexes begin with an understanding of SQL Server; you can get an insight about the same through our online SQL server training

What are Indexes?

A database index is a data structure that improves the speed of data retrieval operations on a database table at the cost of additional writes and storage space to maintain the index data structure. Indexes are used to quickly locate data without having to search every row in a database table every time a database table is accessed. Indexes can be created using one or more database table columns, providing the basis for rapid random lookups and efficient access to ordered records.

What are The Different Types of Indexes?

An index is a copy of selected data columns from a table that enables a very efficient search. An index typically includes a "key" or direct link to the original row of data from which it was copied to allow the complete row to be retrieved efficiently.

There are two types of indexing

  1. Clustered
  2. Nonclustered

Clustered Index

A clustered index is an index that defines the physical order in which table records are stored in a database. Since there can be only one way in which records are physically stored in a database table, there can be only one clustered index per table. By default, a clustered index is created on a primary key column.

Non-Clustered Index

Nonclustered indexes have a structure separate from the data rows. A nonclustered index contains the fundamental values, and each key value entry has a pointer to the data row containing the critical value.

The pointer from an index row in a nonclustered index to a data row is called a row locator. The structure of the row locator depends on whether the data pages are stored in a heap or a clustered table. For a clustered table, the row locator is the clustered index key.

Difference Between Clustered And Non-Clustered Index.

Where are Indexes Stored in a Database?

Indexes are stored under each table within the index tab in a database. There are two ways to store physically indexed data in the system. They are

  1. Rowstore Indexes.
  2. Columnstore Indexes.

Difference Between Column-Store and Row-Store Index

Next, we will learn in detail about these indexes.

Rowstore Indexes

The row store index is the traditional style that has been around since the initial release of SQL Server. Rowstore indexes speed data retrieval by enabling queries to quickly locate data by index rather than scanning an entire table. Rows and columns logically organize row-store data and are physically stored in row-oriented data pages. SQL Server internally organizes row store indexes using a B-Tree structure over the data pages. SQL Server supports clustered and nonclustered indexes. With clustered indexes, the data in the base table is organized according to the clustered index. Rowstore indexes perform best on queries that seek data by searching for a particular value or retrieving a small range of values. Rowstore indexes are a good fit for transactional workloads since they tend to require table seeks instead of large-range table scans and often require frequent data updates.

Here the table records are stored in a sequence of rows. The first record goes into the first row, the next one in the second row, and so on. The whole row is stored in contagious memory locations. It has a row-based in-memory relational data engine optimized for high performance of write operations. Data is written using this row engine. Tables in the row-based store are written at start-up time.

How To Declare a Row Store Index

If you have not mentioned anything when creating an index, the system understands it as a non-clustered row store index. The syntax for creating a row store index is as below.

CREATE INDEX index] ON schematablel (column);
For clustered column store index, you have to mention the keyword clustered
CREATE CLUSTERED INDEX index ON databaselschemattablel (columni);

Advantages of Row Store Index

There are various types of advantages of using row store indexes in SQL servers: 

  • When the application needs only to process a single record at one time, we use the row store engine in that case.

  • If an application needs to access the whole record, then it's advantageous. If there is no aggregation required, then the row store is beneficial.

Disadvantage of Row Store Index

Despite numerous advantages, using row store indexes also have a few disadvantages: 

  • In the case of analytic applications where the aggregation is used and fast search processing is required, all the data in the row has to be read, even if the requirement is just a few columns.

Columnstore Indexes

Columnstore indexes are the standard for storing and querying large data warehousing fact tables. This index uses column-based data storage and query processing to achieve gains up to 10 times the query performance in your data warehouse over traditional row-oriented storage. You can also achieve gains up to 10 times the compression over the uncompressed data size. Beginning with SQL Server 2016 (13. x) SP1, column store indexes enable operational analytics: the ability to run performant real-time analytics on a transactional workload.

Columnstore simply means a new way to store the data in the index. Instead of the normal Rowstore or b-tree indexes where the data is logically and physically organized and stored as a table with rows and columns, the data in column store indexes are physically stored in columns and logically organized in rows and columns. Instead of storing an entire row or rows on a page, one column from many rows is stored there. This difference in architecture gives the column store index a very high level of compression, reducing the storage footprint and providing massive improvements in read performance.

How To Declare A Column Store  Index

N { database_name.schema_name.table_name | schema_name.table_name | table_name }
[WITH ( < with_option> [..n])]
[ ON  | | [ ORDER  |


Non-Clustered Column Store Index

N { database_name.schema_name.table_name | schema_name.table_name | table_name }
[WITH ( < with_option> [..n])]
[ ON  | | [ ORDER  |

Advantages of Column Store Index

Column store indexes offer several benefits in SQL databases. Some of the most common advantages are: 

  • Column store index is used to optimize query performance for analytical workloads within SQL database. Column store indexes enable efficient data compression and reduced I/O operations as well. 
  • Column store index is specifically designed to handle aggregation operations, such as sum, average, and count, and allows faster execution for the same. 

Disadvantages of Column Store Index

Column store index offers numerous benefits. However, there are multiple limitations to using column store indexes: 

  • Column store index can negatively impact the performance of update and insert operations when handling heavy workloads and analytical queries. 
  • Column store indexes are not well-suited for transactional workloads with frequent small-scale updates or individual record retrievals. 
 Which One To Choose-Rowstore or Column Store Index?

Rowstore indexes can be used with transactional workloads because they require mainly table seeks instead of table scans. Columnstore indexes give high-performance gains for analytic queries that scan large amounts of data, especially on large tables.

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When working with SQL, it's essential to understand the differences between row store and column store indexes. Row store indexes are great for optimizing queries of individual columns, while column store indexes can speed up data aggregation across all your columns. Understanding these two types of indexes can help you make the best decision when writing or optimizing your SQL code. 

By understanding these concepts, you will be able to choose the right index for each query which will significantly improve the performance of your database operations. To explore this concept further and take a more in-depth look into the details of sql by learning about sql join rules and other topics, visit Janbask for a comprehensive overview of sql queries, optimization techniques, and more. Let Janbask be your go-to resource to maximize sql efficiency, or enroll in an online SQL server training course and shape your ever-growing SQL career.

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