Home > SQL Server > How to Remember the Next Used Filegroup in a Partition Scheme

How to Remember the Next Used Filegroup in a Partition Scheme


Within SQL, the partitioned table feature provides an excellent way to store and roll forward data windows across large datasets without incurring huge loading and archiving penalties to the main table.

The process of loading, manipulating and decommissioning data from a partitioned table will need posts of their own – due to the depth of the information available and required as well as the detail needed to understand some of the best practises I have learnt from the field.

This entry is specifically relating to the ‘Next Used’ aspect of dealing with a partitioned table – for some time I wanted to know how could I tell what partition had been set as next used? There seems to be no record of the value – the BoL lists the Next Used facility as:

Specify the filegroup to be marked by the partition scheme as NEXT USED.

This is true in a simplistic sense, but the marking can not be at the filegroup level since the relation from partition schemes to filegroups can be many-to-many, so no single marking on a file group could suffice. I had never been able to figure out where to find that marking, and find a way to read what had been set.

I should add, that you really should not set the next used in one location of the code / stored proc and then perform the split of the partition function in another, it would be far safer to do them together, so the need to actually find it out is really borne out of investigative necessity in trying to understand for a given partition scheme that implements a rolling window that started to go bad, where does it think it should be splitting the partition to?

So the problem remained; it was given to Paul S. Randal  to figure out how we could see / infer this information outside of the dedicated admin console. He figured out the starting point in terms of which value in which DMV to start the solution with, and I ran with it from there to create a relatively easy way to get to it. So credit to Paul for finding out where to start on the issue.

So down to the scripts and some test cases:

There are 2 types of partition scheme to test:

  • Partition Function as Left.
  • Partition Function as Right.

When defining the scheme initially, you can also define it in two ways:

  • Partition scheme defined with the next used pre-set value.
  • Partition scheme defined with no pre-set next used value.

So there are 4 combinations to test initially, since we do not need data for this or are worried about the query plan, the main work is pure schema creation and checking.

First script is to just create a test database, nothing significant:

CREATE DATABASE[NextUsedTest] ON PRIMARY
( 
NAME = N'NextUsedTest', 
FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL
\DATA\NextUsedTest.mdf' , 
SIZE = 3072KB , 
FILEGROWTH = 1024KB 
), 
FILEGROUP[PartFG1] ( 
NAME = N'PartFile1', 
FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL
\DATA\PartFile1.ndf' , 
SIZE = 3072KB , 
FILEGROWTH = 1024KB ), 
FILEGROUP[PartFG2] ( 
NAME = N'PartFile2', 
FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL
\DATA\PartFile2.ndf' , 
SIZE = 3072KB , 
FILEGROWTH = 1024KB 
), 
FILEGROUP[PartFG3] ( 
NAME = N'PartFile3', 
FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL
\DATA\PartFile3.ndf' , 
SIZE = 3072KB , 
FILEGROWTH = 1024KB 
), 
FILEGROUP[PartFG4] ( NAME = N'PartFile4', 
FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL
\DATA\PartFile4.ndf' , 
SIZE = 3072KB , 
FILEGROWTH = 1024KB 
), 
FILEGROUP[PartFG5] ( 
NAME = N'PartFile5', 
FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL
\DATA\PartFile5.ndf' , 
SIZE = 3072KB , 
FILEGROWTH = 1024KB 
)
 LOG ON
( NAME = N'NextUsedTest_log', 
FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL
\DATA\NextUsedTest_log.ldf', 
SIZE = 1024KB , 
FILEGROWTH = 10%
) GO

Now the database is in place, lets create the partition functions /schemes:

CREATE PARTITION FUNCTION [pfLeftNoSpare](int) 
AS RANGE LEFT FOR VALUES (200801, 200802, 200803, 200804)

CREATE PARTITION SCHEME [psLeftNoSpare] 
AS PARTITION[pfLeftNoSpare] 
TO([PartFG1], [PartFG2], [PartFG3], [PartFG4], [Primary])

CREATE PARTITION FUNCTION [pfLeftWithNextUsedSet](int) 
AS RANGE LEFT FOR VALUES (200801, 200802, 200803, 200804)

CREATE PARTITION SCHEME [psLeftWithNextUsedSet] 
AS PARTITION [pfLeftWithNextUsedSet] 
TO([PartFG1], [PartFG2], [PartFG3], [PartFG4], [Primary], [PartFG5])

CREATE PARTITION FUNCTION [pfRightNoSpare](int) 
AS RANGE RIGHT FOR VALUES (200801, 200802, 200803, 200804)

CREATE PARTITION SCHEME [psRightNoSpare] 
AS PARTITION[pfRightNoSpare] 
TO([Primary], [PartFG1], [PartFG2], [PartFG3], [PartFG4])

CREATE PARTITION FUNCTION [pfRightWithSpareNextUsedSet](int) 
AS RANGE RIGHT FOR VALUES (200801, 200802, 200803, 200804)

CREATE PARTITION SCHEME [psRightWithSpareNextUsedSet] 
AS PARTITION[pfRightWithSpareNextUsedSet] 
TO([Primary],[PartFG1], [PartFG2], [PartFG3], [PartFG4],  [PartFG5])
GO

Four partition functions and schemes, for the left schemes the next used file group appears on the far right when the next used it pre-set. When you use this mechanisms to preset, it issues a message for the operation:

Partition scheme 'psLeftWithNextUsedSet' has been created successfully. 
'PartFG5' is marked as the next used filegroup 
in partition scheme 'psLeftWithNextUsedSet'. 
Partition scheme 'psRightWithSpareNextUsedSet' has been created successfully. 
'PartFG5' is marked as the next used filegroup 
in partition scheme 'psRightWithSpareNextUsedSet'.

The trick to finding the next used is to look for the mismatching record – if you join the partition function values to the partition scheme there are scheme entries that do not have a corresponding partition function value, since it has not been set by performing the split.

Lets start with the Left based partition and compare the two.

 select FG.Nameas FileGroupName
    , dds.destination_id
    , dds.data_space_id
    , prv.value, ps.Name
 from sys.partition_schemes PS
 inner join sys.destination_data_spaces as DDS 
    on DDS.partition_scheme_id = PS.data_space_id
 inner join sys.filegroups as FG 
    on FG.data_space_id = DDS.data_space_ID 
 left join sys.partition_range_values as PRV 
    on PRV.Boundary_ID = DDS.destination_id and prv.function_id=ps.function_id 
 where PS.name = 'psLeftNoSpare'

The output is:

FileGroupName destination_id data_space_id value Name
PartFG1 1 2 200801 psLeftNoSpare
PartFG2 2 3 200802 psLeftNoSpare
PartFG3 3 4 200803 psLeftNoSpare
PartFG4 4 5 200804 psLeftNoSpare
PRIMARY 5 1 NULL psLeftNoSpare

And check the other Left defined partition:

 select FG.Name asFileGroupName
    , dds.destination_id
    , dds.data_space_id
    , prv.value, ps.Name  
from sys.partition_schemes PS
 inner join sys.destination_data_spaces as DDS 
    on DDS.partition_scheme_id = PS.data_space_id
 inner join sys.filegroups as FG 
    on FG.data_space_id = DDS.data_space_ID 
 left join sys.partition_range_values as PRV 
    on PRV.Boundary_ID = DDS.destination_id and prv.function_id=ps.function_id 
 where PS.name = 'psLeftWithNextUsedSet'

Results:

FileGroupName destination_id data_space_id value Name
PartFG1 1 2 200801 psLeftNoSpare
PartFG2 2 3 200802 psLeftNoSpare
PartFG3 3 4 200803 psLeftNoSpare
PartFG4 4 5 200804 psLeftNoSpare
PRIMARY 5 1 NULL psLeftNoSpare
PartFG5 6 6 NULL psLeftNoSpare

And the difference appears, the next used appears as the highest destination ID, but only when there are two data spaces assigned to the partition that do not have a value. The ‘primary’ entry that shows up as null is due to the partition scheme running from -ve infinity to +ve infinity, and whilst 4 lines are drawn on the number line, that divides the number line into 5 sections.

Running the same statements for the partitions declared using the right shows similar results, but the Primary entry is given destination 5 whilst the spare shows on 6 again.

The query is slightly awkward in that it must pick up the second entry of the list if it exists, using ‘orderings and tops’ will not pull the result we need.

select FileGroupName, Destination_ID, Data_Space_ID, Name  from
(
  select  FG.Name as FileGroupName
   , dds.destination_id
   , dds.data_space_id
   , prv.value
   , ps.Name
   , RANK() OVER (PARTITION BY ps.name order by dds.destination_Id) as dest_rank
  from sys.partition_schemes PS
  inner join sys.destination_data_spaces as DDS 
    on DDS.partition_scheme_id = PS.data_space_id
  inner join sys.filegroups as FG 
    on FG.data_space_id = DDS.data_space_ID 
  left join sys.partition_range_values as PRV 
    on PRV.Boundary_ID = DDS.destination_id and prv.function_id=ps.function_id 
  where prv.Value is null
 ) as a
 where dest_rank = 2

Results:

FileGroupName destination_id data_space_id Name
PartFG5 6 6 psLeftWithNextUsedSet
PartFG5 6 6 psRightWithSpareNextUsedSet

To test whether it picks up setting the next used, let’s set it on the partitions that did not previously have it.

ALTER PARTITION SCHEME psLeftNoSpare NEXT USED [PartFG5]
ALTER PARTITION SCHEME psRightNoSpare NEXT USED [PartFG5]

And re-run the query

FileGroupName destination_id data_space_id Name
PartFG5 6 6 psLeftNoSpare
PartFG5 6 6 psLeftWithNextUsedSet
PartFG5 6 6 psRightNoSpare
PartFG5 6 6 psRightWithSpareNextUsedSet

To make it re-usable, I switched the query into a view

create view NextUseFileGroups
as
select FileGroupName, Destination_ID, Data_Space_ID, Name
 from
 (
   select  FG.Name as FileGroupName
    , dds.destination_id
    , dds.data_space_id, prv.value, ps.Name,
   RANK() OVER (PARTITION BY ps.name order by dds.destination_Id) as dest_rank
   from sys.partition_schemes PS
   inner join sys.destination_data_spaces as DDS
     on DDS.partition_scheme_id = PS.data_space_id
   inner join sys.filegroups as FG
     on FG.data_space_id = DDS.data_space_ID 
   left join sys.partition_range_values as PRV
     on PRV.Boundary_ID = DDS.destination_id and prv.function_id=ps.function_id 
   where prv.Value is null
 ) as a
 where dest_rank = 2

And a final check with removing the setting – you can blank a set next used value by specifying no value in the statement.

ALTER PARTITION SCHEME psLeftNoSpare NEXT USED
ALTER PARTITION SCHEME psRightNoSpare NEXT USED

Select from the view and the two file partition schemes / file groups no longer show up in the list as intended.

So finding out the ‘next used’ setting is possible, although there really is no need in normal operation of the partition window to have to find out, but as an investigative tool it could be useful.

The scripts were tested on both 2005 and 2008, so are good for both in terms of testing, or using the view.

  1. Ahmed B.
    September 12, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    the only post where I find answer to my question: how to figure out the filegroup flagged as NEXT USED. Thanks for the wonderful article.

  2. Dave B.
    December 29, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Great article! I cannot see all of your code because some of it is chopped-off.

    • January 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      Think the style might of got updated, used to wrap the code – fixed it up for now so that all the code is readable.

  3. December 28, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    So much thanks sir. This has solved a big problem for me. Rightly said by Ahmed, “the only post with answer on What is my NEXT USED ?”. Thanks again.

  1. November 15, 2016 at 12:26 am

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