Tips to keep your store's database optimized

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Tips to keep your store's database optimized.

By Richard Grant,freelance writer.

Databases are used across the retail industry in operations of all sizes to track inventory, store customer information and so much more besides.

However, a poorly optimized database can be more of a hindrance than a help. To avoid this, here are some actionable tips for boosting performance and avoiding common database conundrums.

Don’t let index fragmentation get you down

Indexes are a lynchpin aspect of how modern database platforms operate, ensuring that information is retrieved efficiently when it is needed.

Even so, checking fragmentation in your SQL server is a maintenance must-do. Indexes have to be rebuilt to restore optimal performance, or else they could actually slow down your database.

Deal with imperfect queries

If SQL queries are not written in line with best practices, then they could do a shoddy job of finding and retrieving information swiftly.

Sluggish and unresponsive performance is often down to subpar queries, and it should be a priority for administrators to fix these flaws. If you do not have anyone handling server admin in-house, let your vendor know when issues of this kind arise.

Consider hardware upgrades

For stores that have a database server running on-premises, upgrading the hardware to enhance responsiveness will eventually be necessary. The more information it contains and the greater the volume of queries it is required to handle, the more computational grunt it will need to keep pace.

You can determine when an upgrade is necessary by checking in on how server resources are being used. An overworked CPU and an over encumbered allocation of memory will be obvious in an instant.

Of course if your database is hosted remotely by a third party vendor, then hardware limitations can still arise. If you have a bare metal setup, moving to a more potent package will make sense.

Look into storage availability

Storage is another hardware resource that has to be on your radar if you want to keep your retail database running optimally.

Because the amount of space you have available is finite, and as the database grows it will invariably reach the physical limits of the drives you are using, it is wise to plan ahead.

Keep tabs on your storage use, see when it is spiking and be ready to add more capacity in a timely manner. If not, your server could max out and encounter unplanned downtime, let alone everyday performance snafus.

Furthermore, the type of storage hardware you use will influence performance. Older spinning platter drives are slower than modern solid state drives, as well as being less reliable. The cost of upgrading might be steep, but the long term benefits in terms of performance and resilience may be worth it.

Updating server software

To improve performance and address security vulnerabilities, regularly installing the latest version of the software which powers your database is another crucial part of an administrator’s responsibilities.

Updates may not be especially frequent, but you need to act swiftly whenever they are released. The longer you delay, the more likely you are to suffer from the aforementioned issues.

Make the most of monitoring tools

Lastly, it is worth noting that you do not need to manually dig around for imperfect database optimization. There are a plethora of brilliant software tools out there today which will streamline and automate most aspects of managing this type of IT resource.

From getting alerts when queries are taking a long time to complete, to having in-depth analytics detailing how hardware is being harnessed over time, monitoring tools can do all this and more, and they make a lot of sense for retailers as well as other businesses.

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