Create a SQL Server table partition

Time economy is key when you create a SQL Server partition.
Time economy is key when you create a SQL Server partition.

How to create a table partition in SQL Server? Let’s consider a large table with Sales data. So, this table have a column that stores the year of the sale and the table stores millions of lines. Let’s consider also that some reports reads this data to display yearly totals and compares it to the previous year.

How to create a partitioned table with SQL Server?

To start, let’s use this sales table as an example for the partition creation.

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[SALES]
(
[Year] INT,
[MonthName] NVARCHAR(50), -- alphanumeric
[MonthCurrent] BIT, -- Boolean, 0 or 1 , false / true
[NumberMonth] TINYINT, -- very small integer, from 0 to 255
[EmployeeNumber] SMALLINT, -- small integer, minimum -2^15, maximum 2^15
[NumberOfClients] INTEGER, -- integer, minimum -2^31, maximum 2^31
[NumberOfSales] BIGINT, -- big integer, minimum: -2^63, maximum 2^63
[Amount_ET] NUMERIC(15,5), -- numeric, 15 digits, with 5 after the comma
[Amount_IT] DECIMAL(15,5) -- decimal, 15 digits, with 5 after the comma
);

To clarify, the partitioning of a table happens with three main objects and decisions.

  1. First step is to choose the partitioning column
  2. Second step is to create a partition function
  3. Third step is to create the necessary file groups
  4. Fourth step is to create a partition scheme
  5. Last step: update the existing table to use the partitions

1. First step is to choose the partitioning column

First of all, let’s choose the best column for the partition. As the article exposes earlier in the introduction, many queries use the year as a filter to display yearly figures and year over year comparisons.
The choice of a partition on the year column is an interesting one. The partitioning column is the Year column and it’s an integer.

The different partitions on the year will split physically the data in the disk on multiple file groups. This operation is also called partitioning an existing table. Check more details in this article on the definition of a SQL Server partition.

Moreover, the table remains one unique logical SQL Server object, but physically it’s split in different files to isolate and improve the access to every partition.

2. Second step is to create a partition function

Secondly, to create a partition function, simply use a CREATE statement in order to create the partition function. The parameters are the data type of the partitioning column, the type of partition than can be right or left, and the range of values.

For instance, this T-SQL code example shows how to create a partition function based on the previous years, the last year, the current year and the next years.

CREATE PARTITION FUNCTION ufn_Partition_Sales (int)
AS RANGE RIGHT
FOR VALUES (
	2018,
	2019,
	2020
);

3. Third step is to create the necessary file groups

Moreover, a partition scheme uses a partition function and a partition scheme uses file groups. In order to create the partition scheme, create first the file groups to be used.

Above all, make sure to adjust the code before running it. Use the code below to create four additional file groups to the existing ExpertOnlyNet database. After that, the next example of code creates the file groups in the file system. In addition, check out the Official documentation on partitions is available here.

USE ExpertOnlyNet;  
GO  

ALTER DATABASE ExpertOnlyNet ADD FILEGROUP Sales1filegroup;  
GO  

ALTER DATABASE ExpertOnlyNet ADD FILEGROUP Sales2filegroup;  
GO  

ALTER DATABASE ExpertOnlyNet ADD FILEGROUP Sales3filegroup;  
GO  

ALTER DATABASE ExpertOnlyNet ADD FILEGROUP Sales4filegroup;  
GO

In addition, the next step is mandatory and assigns the physical files to existing file groups. To do this, let’s add a secondary data file to every file group created.

ALTER DATABASE ExpertOnlyNet ADD FILE   
(  
    NAME = Sales1datafile,  
    FILENAME = 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER\DATA\Sales1df.ndf',
    SIZE = 10MB, MAXSIZE = 500MB, FILEGROWTH = 10MB  
)  
TO FILEGROUP Sales1filegroup;
GO

ALTER DATABASE ExpertOnlyNet ADD FILE   
(  
    NAME = Sales2datafile,  
    FILENAME = 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER\DATA\Sales2df.ndf',
    SIZE = 10MB, MAXSIZE = 500MB, FILEGROWTH = 10MB  
)  
TO FILEGROUP Sales2filegroup;
GO 

ALTER DATABASE ExpertOnlyNet ADD FILE   
(  
    NAME = Sales3datafile,  
    FILENAME = 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER\DATA\Sales3df.ndf',
    SIZE = 10MB, MAXSIZE = 500MB, FILEGROWTH = 10MB  
)  
TO FILEGROUP Sales3filegroup;
GO  

ALTER DATABASE ExpertOnlyNet ADD FILE   
(  
    NAME = Sales4datafile,  
    FILENAME = 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER\DATA\Sales4df.ndf',
    SIZE = 10MB, MAXSIZE = 500MB, FILEGROWTH = 10MB  
)  
TO FILEGROUP Sales4filegroup;
GO 

4. Fourth step is to create a SQL Server partition scheme

Further, the partition scheme object defines how to spread the data in the different file groups. Hence improving performance and maintenance of the table.

CREATE PARTITION SCHEME sche_Partition_Sales
AS PARTITION ufn_Partition_Sales
TO (
	Sales1filegroup,
	Sales2filegroup,
	Sales3filegroup,
	Sales4filegroup
);

5. Update the existing table or create a new one that uses the partition scheme

Finally, the table is partitioned after using the partition scheme and the partition function. The code creates the partitions for the the newly created Sales table. It also passes the year as the partitioning column.

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[SALES_Partitioned]
(
[Year] INT,
[MonthName] NVARCHAR(50), 
[MonthCurrent] BIT, 
[NumberMonth] TINYINT, 
[EmployeeNumber] SMALLINT, 
[NumberOfClients] INTEGER, 
[NumberOfSales] BIGINT, 
[Amount_ET] NUMERIC(15,5), 
[Amount_IT] DECIMAL(15,5)
)
ON sche_Partition_Sales ([year]);
GO

To conclude, this article explains how to create a SQL Server partition with a partitioning column, a partition function and a partition scheme.

What is a partitioned table?

A partitioned table is a table that has a partitioning column and uses a partition function and a partition scheme. In addition, it contains data that is split in the disk to access directly to one single piece of data instead of accessing the full rows table.

How to create partitioned table by year?

A partitioned table by year uses a the year as partitioning column and stores the data for a given year in a specific partition. In other words, the general goal is to have the most frequently used years, like the last year, the current year and the next year in dedicated partitions.

How to improve query performance?

To improve the performance of SQL Server queries, create a partitioned table and adding indexes help a lot. Moreover, the partitioning helps to split the data into different pieces.

What are the disadvantages of partitioned tables?

The main disadvantages of partitioned tables are the object maintenance to keep the partition definitions up to date with the partitioning column.

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