How long does a SP stay in the cache?

Posted by Deepak Kumar | Posted in Scripts, SQL BI/DW/SSRS, SQL DBA, SQL Dev, Uncategorized | Posted on 14-04-2010


 image As a SQL Database Administrator, developer, designer you must be eager to know how long does a stored procedure execution plan stay in the cache? On what basis and parameters Microsoft SQL Server decide age of an execution plan to reside in cache? The quick answer is, it is based on the cost factor and number of reference to that object in cache. Let’s see how it goes in details:

Once the execution plan is generated for a SP, it stays in the procedure cache. SQL Server 2000 Lazy writer keep looking and throwing out unused plans out of the cache “only when space is needed in cache”.

Each query plan and execution context has an ‘associated cost factor’ that indicates how expensive the structure is to compile. These data structures also have an age field. Each time the object is referenced by a connection, the age field is incremented by the compilation cost factor.

For example, if a query plan of SP has a cost factor of 8 and is referenced twice, its age becomes 16. The lazywriter process periodically scans the list of objects in the procedure cache. The lazywriter decrements the age field of each object by 1 on each scan.

The age of your SP Execution plan is decremented to 0 after 16 scans of the procedure cache, unless another user references the plan. The lazywriter process deallocates an object if these conditions are met:

  • The memory manager requires memory and all available memory is currently in use.
  • The age field for the object is 0.
  • The object is not currently referenced by a connection.

The same way, certain changes in a database can cause an execution plan to be either inefficient or invalid, like below:

  • Any structural changes made to a table or view referenced by the query (ALTER TABLE and ALTER VIEW).
  • New distribution statistics generated either explicitly from a statement such as UPDATE STATISTICS or automatically.
  • Dropping an index used by the execution plan.
  • An explicit call to sp_recompile.
  • Large numbers of changes to keys (generated by INSERT or DELETE statements from other users that modify a table referenced by the query).
  • For tables with triggers, if the number of rows in the inserted or deleted tables grows significantly.

You can read more from SQL 2000 BOL: Topic under “Lazy Writer”, ‘Freeing and Writing Buffer Pages’ OR online at: Link


CHECKPOINT Forces all dirty pages for the current database to be written to disk. Dirty pages are data or log pages modified after entered into the buffer cache, but the modifications have not yet been written to disk.

SQL Server Buffer Mgr: Lazy Writes/Sec:

This counter tracks how many times a second that the Lazy Writer process is moving dirty pages from the buffer to disk in order to free up buffer space.

Below are some documented and undocumented DBCC commands available in SQL Server 2000 to deal and find more information about SQL Server cache.

To monitor the cache:


To clean the cache:


Hopefully I have not put too many new questions in your mind. But if I have, feel free to post your comments!

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