Archive for November, 2008

Clustered index vs Non-clustered index

google: Clustered index vs Non-clustered index -> Robert Chipperfield : Should you always use a clustered index?

Take the example of aphone book. The actual data – that is, the name, address and phone number records – is ordered by the name. If you want to look up Joe Bloggs’s phone number, you open the book somewhere near the middle, maybe see the names there start with “M”, but “Bloggs” is before “M”, so you go a bit earlier in the book. You keep narrowing it down until you find the entry labelled Bloggs, and that’s it – all the data for that record is right there. That’s a bit like a clustered index.

On the other hand, a book might have a table of contents, sorted alphabetically. If you want to find out about llamas, you search the contents for llamas, which probably then gives you a page number, at which point you go to the page, and there’s the data about llamas. The difference here is that you’ve had to do an extra bit of indirection – following the page number pointer – in order to get to the data. You can probably now see that while you can have as many tables of contents, ordered in any way you like, one set of data can only be physically arranged in one way. This means you can have many non-clustered indexes, but only one clustered index on a table.

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