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Uncover the Hidden Features of SQL Server

SQL Server is a widely used relational database management system (RDBMS) that has been in the market for over three decades. It is known fo...

SQL Server is a widely used relational database management system (RDBMS) that has been in the market for over three decades. It is known for its robustness, scalability, and flexibility, making it the top choice for many organizations around the world. However, despite its widespread use, there are many hidden features in SQL Server that often go unnoticed by users. In this article, we will uncover some of these hidden features and show you how they can enhance your experience with SQL Server.

1. Use of Common Table Expressions (CTEs)

CTEs are temporary named result sets that are defined within the execution scope of a single SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, or CREATE VIEW statement. They can be used to simplify complex queries, improve performance, and make code more readable. CTEs are especially useful when you need to perform multiple operations on the same set of data, as they allow you to define the result set once and then refer to it multiple times within the same query.

2. Query Store

Introduced in SQL Server 2016, Query Store is a powerful tool that helps you analyze the performance of your queries over time. It collects and stores query execution plans, runtime statistics, and other related information, which can be used for troubleshooting and performance tuning. With Query Store, you can easily identify and fix performance issues caused by changes in query plans or data distribution.

3. Automatic Tuning

Another useful feature introduced in SQL Server 2017 is Automatic Tuning. It uses machine learning algorithms to continuously monitor and improve the performance of your databases. It can automatically create and drop indexes, adjust the configuration of the database, and even force a query plan when necessary. This feature helps save valuable time and effort that would otherwise be spent on manual performance tuning.

4. JSON Support

SQL Server has always been known for its robust handling of structured data. However, with the growing popularity of semi-structured data, the need for a native JSON data type in SQL Server became imminent. Starting from SQL Server 2016, you can now store, query, and modify JSON documents directly in your database. This feature is especially useful for applications that deal with large amounts of data in JSON format.

5. In-Memory OLTP

In-Memory OLTP is a game-changing feature introduced in SQL Server 2014. It allows you to store and process data entirely in memory, resulting in significantly faster performance compared to traditional disk-based tables. This feature is particularly useful for applications that require high-speed data processing, such as online transaction processing (OLTP) systems.

6. Stretch Database

Stretch Database is a feature introduced in SQL Server 2016 that allows you to seamlessly extend your on-premises database to the cloud. It automatically and transparently moves older, less frequently accessed data to Azure SQL Database, freeing up space on your local server and improving its performance. This feature is especially useful for organizations that need to balance the cost of storage and performance.

7. Temporal Tables

Temporal Tables are another useful feature introduced in SQL Server 2016. They allow you to track changes to data over time without the need for triggers or custom code. Temporal Tables store the entire history of changes made to a row, making it easier to analyze data trends and troubleshoot issues. This feature is particularly useful for compliance and auditing purposes.

In conclusion, SQL Server is a powerful database management system with a vast array of features that can help you handle even the most complex data scenarios. In this article, we have uncovered some of the hidden features of SQL Server that can greatly enhance your experience with this powerful RDBMS. So, the next time you are working with SQL Server, be sure to explore these features and make the most out of your database.

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