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How to manage large table to keep them optimized

2 min read
Published on 2nd October 2023
How to manage large table to keep them optimized

Every database starts small. But as an application grows, so does its data. Efficiently handling and maintaining large tables in a database is an art that requires careful planning, design, and optimization techniques. In this article, we'll delve deep into those strategies.

1. Database Normalization

Database normalization is the practice of efficiently organizing data in databases. This involves minimizing redundancy and dependency by organizing data into separate tables based on relationships.


  • Reduces data redundancy.
  • Enhances database structure.
  • Facilitates data consistency.

However, while normalization can reduce redundancy, sometimes denormalization (intentionally introducing redundancy) is used to speed up complex queries.

2. Indexing

An index in a database resembles an index in a book:

  • It's a pointer to data in a table.
  • It improves the speed of operations in a database.

For large tables, properly indexing columns that are frequently searched, or used to join other tables, can greatly speed up query performance.

3. Partitioning

As tables grow, queries slow down. Partitioning is the database process where very large tables are divided into smaller, more manageable pieces, yet being treated as a single table.

Types of Partitioning:

  • Range Partitioning: Rows are partitioned according to the range of values. For instance, a table might be partitioned by date ranges.

  • List Partitioning: Partitioning is done based on column values. Each partition is defined and rows are inserted based on the predefined lists.

  • Hash Partitioning: A hash function decides the partition where a row should go.

4. Archiving Old Data

Over time, some data may no longer be relevant for immediate operations but might still be needed for historical or audit purposes. Archiving such data:

  • Reduces the database size.
  • Speeds up queries on active data.
  • Ensures compliance with data retention policies.

5. Horizontal Scaling

Horizontal scaling is about adding more servers to your database infrastructure to distribute the load and storage. Databases that support horizontal scaling (like Cassandra, DynamoDB) allow data to be spread across multiple servers, reducing the strain on any single machine.

6. Regular Maintenance

Optimization Techniques:

  • Database Sharding: Distributing data across multiple databases. Each database in this system is referred to as a shard.

  • Regular Backups: Essential for data recovery.

  • Cleaning: Removing obsolete or redundant data.

  • Regularly Update Statistics: Modern databases use statistics about the data distribution in tables to generate efficient query plans.

7. Monitoring

For databases housing large tables:

  • Use monitoring tools to check the health of your database.
  • Monitor query performance to identify slow-running queries.
  • Keep an eye on storage space.

While large tables can present challenges, they are not insurmountable. With careful design, monitoring, and regular maintenance, you can ensure that your database remains efficient and scalable, no matter how large it grows. Proper database management is crucial, not just for performance but for the overall health and longevity of your application.