Infrastructure at your Service

Nathan Courtine

Improving your SharePoint performance using SQL Server settings (part 1)

SharePoint performance is a recursive problem and preoccupation. As a Database Administrator, we have to deal with SharePoint when configuring SQL Server databases.
In this article, I will propose a list of best practices in SQL Server settings aimed to reduce SharePoint performance issues.
This article is inspired from the presentation Optimizing SQL Server for Speedy SharePoint by Sahil Malik held at the European SharePoint Conference 2014 in Barcelona.


Do not keep the default value which is 1 MB. We can illustrate with a simple example why this is a bad idea.
When a document of 5 MB is uploaded, it means there are 5 Autogrowth which are activated. In fact, there are 5 allocations of space which must slow your system.
Moreover, your uploaded document will be fragmented across your different data files. This configuration will decrease your performance a second time.
To avoid performance issues and reduce fragmented data files, you should set the autogrowth value to a fixed number of megabytes.
My recommendation is 1024 MB for data files and 256 MB for log files. But keep in mind, this is a global recommendation. In fact, the bigger the database, the bigger the growth increment should be.

SQL Server disk cluster size

The default value of SQL Server is 4 KB. But in fact, it is nearly the worst value you can choose for this configuration!
Globally, 64 KB is a safe value. Indeed, the server reads 64 KB at the time and can deliver larger chunks of data to the SQL Server database.

TempDB Optimization

First, the TempDB recovery model should be set to simple. Indeed, this model automatically reclaims log space to keep space requirements small.
Also, you should put your TempDB on the fastest disks you have, because TempDB is heavily used by SharePoint. Do not let SQL Server use this disk for any other needs, except TempDB utilization!
Furthermore, the total space of the TempDB data files should be 25% of the total space of your user databases. Not many DBAs realize how a TempDB is used by SharePoint and to what extent a TempDB can grow!

Index Fragmentation

WSS_Content database, for example, is used to store site collection as well as lists and its tables are shared. Therefore, indexes are very important!
So do not forget to manage the fragmentation of your databases.
My recommendation is to perform a Reorganize when your fragmentation is between 10% and 30 % as well as a Rebuild index when your fragmentation is above 30%.
Take care about indexes with more than 1’000 pages!


Do not enable Auto-Create Statistics on an SQL Server that supports SharePoint Server! Let SharePoint Server configure the required settings alone.
Auto-Create Statistics can significantly change the execution plan of a query from one instance of SQL Server to another.

Therefore, do not enable Auto-Update Statistics and use instead SharePoint Auto-Update capability instead.

SQL Server Memory Allocation

The default values of SQL Server for memory allocation are 0 MB for Minimum server memory and 2147483647 MB for Maximum server memory.
The default value of the Maximum server memory is not optimized at all!
You should set a custom value depending on the total amount of physical memory, the number of processors, and the number of cores.
To calculate your SQL Max Memory, I suggest you to read this article.

Recycle Bin

Be aware that items in the recycle Bin may affect the performance.
Moreover, after a certain limit of days or after a deletion, these items are moved to a second stage recycle bin that may also affect your performance.
As a result, you have to manage your recycle bin depending on your needs to ensure that the size of your recycle bin will not continue to grow out of control.


The default value of your MAXDOP is 0. But for better performance, you should make sure that a single SQL Server process serves each request.
Therefore, you must set MAXDOP to 1.

Fill Factor

The default value is 0, which is equal to 100. It means that you do not provide space for index expansion.
But when a new row is added to a full index page, the Database Engine make a reorganization called Page Split.
Page Split can take time to perform, and can cause fragmentation increasing I/O operations.
I recommend to set a Fill Factor value of 80. It means that 20 % of each-level page will be left empty.
Therefore, you can support growth and reduce fragmentation.

Instant File initialization

This feature, when enabled, allows SQL Server to initialize database files instantly, without physically zeroing out each and every 8K page in the file.
Therefore, depending on the size of files you have, you can save a lots of time.


The default settings of the content database in SQL Server are pretty bad and far from what we really need. You should always opt for a pre-allocate size strategy and not rely on autogrowth.
Monitoring your databases for space and growth to avoid bad surprises is very important.
Also, do not forget to modify your model database for size allocation rules.
Ans if you do not want to suffer from bad performances, do not use the Auto-Shrink capability.



  • Linda says:

    You said to not enable the auto create statistics but what about the system dbs? All of our user dbs are set to false. Thanks.

  • Phani says:

    Hi There,

    I am recently joined in a team working on SP2013 and SQL 2012. There are no index management jobs (Rebuild / Reorganize) set in the environment. When the same SP database (2010) running on sql 20008 there was index rebuild job.

    Currently sql 2012 is having dbcc and updatestats. I heard from one MS guy SP 2013 manage index internally. Is this correct?

    Do I need to go with index jobs from SQL Server also? pls suggest.


    • Nathan Courtine says:

      Hello Phani,
      By default, SharePoint internally manages the fragmentation of some databases via the Health rule analyzer. These databases are:
      – Content databases
      – Search and Crawl databases
      However, you should ensure with the SP admins, these rules are correctly enabled in the Central Admin.
      These internal scripts are well-done and are well-designed for these databases. In other words, customized dba scripts would be less productive and a waste of resources.

      For the SharePoint databases which are not included in these internal jobs, you can install maintenance plans if you want to. However, as it is nearly “static” databases (data are rarely updated), customized dba maintenance plans would not have a real impact on the performances.

      Installing customized dba maintenance plans is often a “Best Practice” and healthy for your SQL Server environment. But in some cases, it can degrade the performances of an environment!
      We note that following the editor’s recommendations is also often a “Best Practice”…

      Finally, your approach is ALWAYS the “Best Practice”: try to understand your environment!

      I hope it helps you ;-)


  • Nathan Courtine says:

    Hi Linda. Thank you for your comment.

    System databases are part of the SQL Server working, and do not meet with the SharePoint requirements.
    In any of our projects, we have needed to change system databases for our SharePoint infrastructure.
    Have you ever experienced a project that required such modifications in system databases?

    However, I recommend to not “force” the Auto-Create Statistics to True for your SharePoint databases. This is a Best Practice from Sahil Malik at the European SharePoint Conference, and from Microsoft:
    Moreover, I recommend to let SharePoint do the required settings alone. Indeed, some SharePoint databases (such as ShearchServiceApplication db) have the Auto-Create Statistics set to True. In this case, this is SharePoint which will configure this setting to True.

    I hope I have successfully answered to your question !


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Nathan Courtine
Nathan Courtine