If you’re just learning the ropes of your database, one thing you’ll come across is indexing. Indexing is a great tool that allows you to be more efficient with your database. But not all databases need indexing and not every index will increase the query speed for the database.
Let’s learn more about what indexing is and how it can improve the performance of your database.
What is Indexing?
Indexes are used to quickly locate data without having to search every row in a database table. This is a huge time saver!
To create an index, you need a few database columns. The first column is the Search Key that contains a copy of the primary key of the table. The second column is the Data Reference that contains a set of pointers. Together, these work together to create the structure of a single index.
Here’s an example of how to use indexing. Let’s say you want to find a piece of information from your database. Instead of going line by line, you let the computer look through each row until the information is found. Keep in mind that if the data you’re looking for is at the end, the query will take a long time. Thankfully, you can sort alphabetically to help you run faster queries.
What Types of Database Indexes Exist?
There are two main types of database indexes:
- Clustered. Clustered indexes use the primary key to organize data. The reason to use a clustered index is to ensure that the primary key is stored in increasing order, which is also the same order that the table holds memory. Clustered indexes are automatically created when the primary key is set.
- Non-clustered indexes. Non-clustered indexes are data structures that improve the speed of data retrieval. Unlike clustered indexes, non-clustered indexes are created by data analysts or developers.
When Should You Use Indexes?
The purpose of indexes is to speed up the performance of your database. You should use them any time you feel that they will make your database easier to use. If your database is small right now, you may not see as many opportunities to use indexes. But as your database grows, there’s no question that you will see benefits from indexing.
To ensure that your indexes are performing properly, run a set of queries on your database, record the time it takes for those queries to finish and then begin creating your indexes. Continue rerunning your tests for continued improvements.
Now you know how indexes affect database performance – they greatly reduce query times. If you would like to learn more about how to use indexing, or you need an index built for your database, schedule a time to chat with Arkware.