Database indexing is a technique that makes searching and retrieving data from a database faster. It is like creating a quick guide for finding information in a large book. It helps speed up searches and makes finding things easier.
Indexing speeds up SELECT queries and WHERE clauses. On the other hand slows down INSERT and UPDATE queries.
Fig: Database Index Data Structure
Imagine you have a database of books, and you want to find all the books that have the word "programming" in the title. Without an index, the database would have to scan every row in the table to find the books that match the search criteria. This could take a long time, especially if there are a lot of books in the table.
However, if you create an index on the title column, the database can quickly find the rows that match the search criteria. The index is a separate data structure that stores the values of the title column in sorted order. The database can use the index to quickly find the rows that contain the word "programming" in the title.
For this example, we will create a database
pg-million in PostgreSQL containing table
customers with columns:
CREATE TABLE customers(first_name VARCHAR(50), last_name VARCHAR(50), mobile_no INTEGER, country VARCHAR(50)) INSERT INTO customers (first_name, last_name, mobile_no, country) SELECT substr(md5(random()::text), 1, 10), substr(md5(random()::text), 1, 10), (random() * 70 + 10)::integer, (CASE WHEN random() < 0.5 THEN 'India' ELSE 'United Kingdom' END) FROM generate_series(1, 50000000);
We create an index on
country column to have a well-organized list that lets us quickly locate all the customers from a particular country without searching through the entire list.
CREATE INDEX idx_partial_country ON customers (country) WHERE country IN ('India', 'United Kingdom')
Time to create index:
For this example, we are using partial indexes. A partial index is created based on a condition that filters rows for specific values. This allows the database to index and optimize only the relevant rows, reducing the index size and improving query performance for those specific values.
Note: The syntax for creating indexes and types of indexes differs among different databases. You should use appropriate syntax and index type depending on your database and use-case.
Consider the following query
SELECT * FROM customers WHERE country='United Kingdom';
Query Execution Time without index:
Query Execution Time with index:
Improvement in query execution time ~42.03%
(For better understanding you can find all the code here
It is important to gain insights into index effectiveness. A few helpful metrics include:
Index Usage Statistics: Monitor the usage of indexes to understand which indexes are actively contributing to query performance. (Ex: Track the size of indexes, as larger indexes may impact disk space and I/O performance)
Query Performance Metrics: Monitor query execution times and response times for queries that involve indexed columns. (Ex: A sudden increase in query execution time may indicate index-related issues.)
Index Maintenance Metrics: Regularly assess the health of indexes and their impact on database operations. (Ex: Track index bloat, which occurs when indexes become inefficient due to excessive insertions, updates, or deletions.)
Frequent Search Queries: Use indexing when you frequently search for specific data in a large dataset. It helps to find the desired information quickly.
Performance Improvement: Indexing can improve the speed of data retrieval operations, especially for complex queries, by avoiding scanning the entire dataset.
Large Data Volumes: Indexing is used when dealing with sizable amounts of data, as it helps maintain efficient query performance even as the dataset grows.
Frequent Write Operations: Avoid excessive indexing if your database experiences frequent insert, update, or delete operations, as indexes can slow down these write operations and consume additional storage space. Indexes should not be used on the columns that are frequently manipulated.
Small Datasets: For relatively small datasets, indexing may not provide significant performance gains and can introduce unnecessary overhead. In such cases, the benefits may not outweigh the costs.
If you are looking for ways to improve the performance of your database, then database indexing is a good place to start. By creating indexes on the columns that are frequently used in queries, you can significantly improve the performance of your database and make your queries faster. However, it is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of indexing before making a decision.