Choosing Indexes

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Once you have your design, you need to consider what indexes are necessary. The basic trade-off with indexes is that more distinct indexes make retrieval by specific criteria faster, but updating and storage slower. One optimization is to avoid creating several indexes on the same column. For example, if you sometimes retrieve employees based on name, department, badge number, or department name, you should define one index for each of these columns. If a query includes more than one column value to retrieve, InterBase will use more than one index to qualify records. In contrast, defining indexes for every permutation of those three columns will actually slow both retrieval and update operations.

When you are testing your design to find the optimum combination of indexes, remember that the size of the tables affects the retrieval performance significantly. If you expect to have tables with 10,000 to 100,000 records each, do not run tests with only 10 to 100 records.

Another factor that affects index and data retrieval times is page size. By increasing the page size, you can store more records on each page, thus reducing the number of pages used by indexes. If any of your indexes are more than 4 levels deep, you should consider increasing the page size. If indexes on volatile data (data that is regularly deleted and restored, or data that has index key values that change frequently) are less than three levels deep, you should consider reducing your page size. In general, you should use a page size larger than your largest record, although the data compression of InterBase will generally shrink records that contain lots of string data, or lots of numeric values that are 0 or NULL. If your records have those characteristics, you can probably store records on pages which are 20% smaller than the full record size. On the other hand, if your records are not compressible, you should add 5% to the actual record size when comparing it to the page size.

For more information on creating indexes, see Working with Indexes.

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