Simple Stored Procedure to Compress Old Tables

Pretty sure the SQL Server compression code looks like this.

I’m always looking for a way to save space in SQL Server. From archiving old data to just flat out deleting unused objects, I take great joy in removing superfluous stuff. The less junk in the system, the easier it is to focus on the things that matter.

..and fit it in a 10 kg bag

The biggest useless space eaters are tables that are (supposedly) no longer used. I could script them with data to a file, but what if they’re 100+GB? I could also back them up to another DB and then drop them from the database; that would certainly free up the space in the original DB. What if they’re needed for some process that I was unaware of and we can’t wait for the time to restore/move them back?

My conundrum was this. So, I decided to implement a process that looked at a single DBA-controlled schema and compressed every table created prior to a certain date. I could TRANSFER the superfluous table to that schema, and leave it. At some point in the future a job would come along and compress it.

If the data was needed within X days, then the table could easily be transferred back to the original schema, no harm: no foul. Also, I would save space as tables would be automatically PAGE compressed and could be decompressed if needed. De/Compression is really fast in SQL Server.

It’s Compression Time

So, this super-simple stored procedure was created prCompressCleanupTables (click for github link). It takes the following parameters:

  • @CompressBeforeDate – A DATETIME variable that accepts how old the table must be before it is compressed (Looks at the created date)
  • @Schema – Sysname variable that takes the schema name that you want to compress. Keep in mind that this is the same schema for every database, so make sure it’s unique (I use the ‘Cleanup’ schema personally, hence the name).

It skips the following databases by default: master, tempdb, model, msdb, distribution, ReportServer, SSISDB. It will skip any database that is in any state other than ONLINE, too.

Also remember that compression is locked to certain editions of SQL Server, as well as being 2008+ (you really need to upgrade if being 2008 is a limiting factor).

I’m Also A Client

I have this implemented as a job on several servers which checks weekly for new tables to compress in the appropriate databases. It checks for any tables created prior to GETDATE() – 60. I have to say, that it runs very quickly even on large tables.

Let me know if this is helpful to you!

-CJ Julius

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