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    How to optimise your databases for speed

    by Iain Thomson Project Lead

    Databases play a crucial role in the performance of your website or application. When badly optimised, they can slow down your website, resulting in a poor user experience. In this article, we will discuss some key tips to help you optimise your databases and improve overall performance.


    Indexing is one of the most effective ways to optimise your database’s performance. An index is a data structure that allows the database to quickly locate specific data within a large dataset.

    By creating indexes on frequently queried columns, you can significantly speed up data retrieval. It is important to strike a balance between having too few or too many indexes, as too many indexes can actually slow down data inserts and updates, which defeats the object of indexing.

    Query optimization

    Poorly written queries can have a significant impact on database performance. Optimising queries involves analysing and rewriting SQL queries to ensure they are efficient. You should also use query caching and prepared statements to reduce repetitive queries.

    Database normalisation

    Normalisation is the process of organising data in a database to eliminate redundancies and ensure data integrity.

    By following normalisation principles, you can reduce data duplication and improve performance. Break data into logical entities, use primary and foreign keys to establish relationships between tables, and avoid storing repeating groups of data in a single table.

    Use correct data types

    Choosing the right data types can significantly impact performance. Using the smallest data type that fits your data requirements reduces the amount of storage space required and improves query performance. For example, using INT instead of BIGINT for numeric values (if appropriate) can save storage space and improve speed.

    Regular database maintenance

    Performing regular maintenance tasks on your database can help optimise its performance. This includes tasks such as analysing query execution plans, reindexing fragmented indexes, updating database statistics and removing unused or obsolete data.

    Regularly backing up your databases and optimising their storage allocation can also contribute to improved performance.

    Scaling and load balancing

    As your website or application grows, it is important to consider scaling and load balancing strategies to handle increased traffic and database load.

    This can involve placing the database across multiple servers, implementing caching mechanisms and using techniques such as sharding or partitioning to spread the data across multiple servers. Load balancing techniques ensure that the database workload is evenly distributed, preventing any single server from becoming a bottleneck.

    Monitor and optimise resource usage

    Monitoring your database’s resource usage is crucial for identifying and resolving performance issues. Track metrics such as CPU usage, memory consumption and disk I/O to understand resource usage.

    Use database monitoring tools to identify long-running or resource-intensive queries and optimise them accordingly. Additionally, monitoring tools can help detect and resolve any bottlenecks or performance issues in real-time.

    Use database caching

    Caching involves storing frequently accessed data in memory, reducing the need to retrieve data from the database. Utilise caching techniques such as object caching or query caching to improve response times and reduce database load.

    Need help?

    If you use a CMS to run your website, it will have a database. They tend to run silently and reliably in the background and you hardly give them a second thought.

    But optimising your database can wring extra speed out of them that you never knew existed. Why not let us have a look at your database to see if you’ve got bottlenecks? Get in touch today for a quote.