SQL Server – SSMS – Query Plan – Compare


One of my favorite go to tool with SQL Server Query troubleshooting is to simple use SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to compare the query plans generated via running the same SQL across different machines or SQL Server Versions.\


To use, please follow these simple steps :-

  1. Invoke SSMS
    • Query 1
      • Enable “Include Actual Execution Plan”
      • Run Query
      • Save resultant plan
    • Query 2
      • Enable “Include Actual Execution Plan”
      • Run Query
      • Save resultant plan
    • Access Query Plan pane
      • Access either Query’s Plan tab
      • Right click in an empty area of the pane
      • The drop-down menu appears
      • From the drop down menu, please choose “Compare Showplan”
      • From the File Open window,  choose the saved query plan from the opposing query



Sample – 01

Showplan Comparison




  1. Certificates
    • Top Query :- Index Seek
    • Bottom Query :- Index Scan


Showplan Analysis



  1. Scenarios
    • Difference :- 15316%
    • Estimated top/left :- 3274
    • Estimated bottom/right :- 504816



As for client, requires at least SQL Server Management Studio v2017.

Works across various SQL Server Database Engine Versions.

Tested here against Server versions :-

  1. v2005
  2. v2017


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