Sql – OPTION (RECOMPILE) is Always Faster; Why


I encountered an odd situation where appending OPTION (RECOMPILE) to my query causes it to run in half a second, while omitting it causes the query to take well over five minutes.

This is the case when the query is executed from Query Analyzer or from my C# program via SqlCommand.ExecuteReader(). Calling (or not calling) DBCC FREEPROCCACHE or DBCC dropcleanbuffers makes no difference; Query results are always returned instantaneously with OPTION (RECOMPILE) and greater than five minutes without it. The query is always called with the same parameters [for the sake of this test].

I'm using SQL Server 2008.

I'm fairly comfortable with writing SQL but have never used an OPTION command in a query before and was unfamiliar with the whole concept of plan caches until scanning the posts on this forum. My understanding from the posts is that OPTION (RECOMPILE) is an expensive operation. It apparently creates a new lookup strategy for the query. So why is it then, that subsequent queries that omit the OPTION (RECOMPILE) are so slow? Shouldn't the subsequent queries be making use of the lookup strategy that was computed on the previous call which included the recompilation hint?

Is it highly unusual to have a query that requires a recompilation hint on every single call?

Sorry for the entry-level question but I can't really make heads or tails of this.

UPDATE: I've been asked to post the query…

select acctNo,min(date) earliestDate 
    select acctNo,tradeDate as date 
    from datafeed_trans 
    where feedid=@feedID and feedDate=@feedDate 


    select acctNo,feedDate as date 
    from datafeed_money 
    where feedid=@feedID and feedDate=@feedDate 


    select acctNo,feedDate as date 
    from datafeed_jnl 
    where feedid=@feedID and feedDate=@feedDate 
group by t1.acctNo

When running the test from Query Analyzer, I prepend the following lines:

declare @feedID int
select @feedID=20

declare @feedDate datetime
select @feedDate='1/2/2009'

When calling it from my C# program, the parameters are passed in via the SqlCommand.Parameters property.

For the purposes of this discussion, you can assume that the parameters never change so we can rule out sub-optimal parameter smelling as the cause.

Best Solution

There are times that using OPTION(RECOMPILE) makes sense. In my experience the only time this is a viable option is when you are using dynamic SQL. Before you explore whether this makes sense in your situation I would recommend rebuilding your statistics. This can be done by running the following:

EXEC sp_updatestats

And then recreating your execution plan. This will ensure that when your execution plan is created it will be using the latest information.

Adding OPTION(RECOMPILE) rebuilds the execution plan every time that your query executes. I have never heard that described as creates a new lookup strategy but maybe we are just using different terms for the same thing.

When a stored procedure is created (I suspect you are calling ad-hoc sql from .NET but if you are using a parameterized query then this ends up being a stored proc call) SQL Server attempts to determine the most effective execution plan for this query based on the data in your database and the parameters passed in (parameter sniffing), and then caches this plan. This means that if you create the query where there are 10 records in your database and then execute it when there are 100,000,000 records the cached execution plan may no longer be the most effective.

In summary - I don't see any reason that OPTION(RECOMPILE) would be a benefit here. I suspect you just need to update your statistics and your execution plan. Rebuilding statistics can be an essential part of DBA work depending on your situation. If you are still having problems after updating your stats, I would suggest posting both execution plans.

And to answer your question - yes, I would say it is highly unusual for your best option to be recompiling the execution plan every time you execute the query.

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