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"My only choice for SQL Server Performance Analysis"

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The best SQL query analysis and optimization tool is now completely free!

Plan Explorer logo

Get Plan Explorer and get to the root of the toughest SQL Server query issues.

Elevate your query tuning to a new level with advanced features not found in any other tool.

(This standalone Windows application contains many of the plan analysis features included in the full SentryOne software, but does not require a collector service or database.)

Plan Explorer diagram of a query plan

One version. All features. Now completely free!

Plan Explorer Evolution logo

Microsoft data professionals and developers have realized the benefits of Plan Explorer Free and Pro editions for years. Now the entire Plan Explorer feature set is free!

Watch the webinar | Read Greg's blog

Key features

  • Index Analysis NEW
    Discover a new, easy way to gauge the impact of potential index changes.

    Scoring algorithms help you to determine the best index to support a given query. Easily view recommended indexes, create and modify indexes, and detect and update old statistics. Watch the score change in real time as you work towards the elusive 100% score, before executing a single line of code against SQL Server.

  • Statistics Analysis with Histogram NEW
    Revolutionary new visual of query parameters and statistics with histogram range highlighting.

    Clearly see the impact of compiled and runtime query parameters on performance, quickly spot data skew that can contribute to parameter sniffing issues, visualize potential ascending key problems, and identify opportunities for filtered indexes.

  • Query Performance Profiling and Playback NEW
    With integrated history charts, see exactly how a query and its expensive operators are impacting CPU, I/O, and waits.

    Replay queries with access to their live performance statistics. Before, you could see how much CPU and I/O a query caused, or how many waits were associated with the entire query. Now you can playback the query profile, and see exactly which operators are adding the most load on system resources. Charts are integrated with the plan diagram, so you can see exactly how a query and its expensive operators are impacting CPU, I/O, and waits. All without the need to actually run the query again.

  • Actual Plan Recosting NEW
    View actual operator costs instead of the original estimated costs.

    Until now, the cost you can see for a plan operator has always been based on what the optimizer estimated when the plan was compiled. Very often these estimates are highly inaccurate once the query is executed. With Actual Plan Recosting, Plan Explorer is able to display the actual relative cost of each plan operator, and you can see the difference by toggling the view between Estimated and Actual.

  • Plan Diagram
    See more of the plan on screen with full layout control and optimized layout algorithms.

    Quickly identify the costliest operators through intuitive color-coding and a variety of display options, such as viewing operator costs by I/O or CPU.

  • Management Studio Add-In
    The Plan Explorer SSMS add-in allows you to jump directly to Plan Explorer from SSMS.

    Simply right-click an execution plan and choose the ”View with SentryOne Plan Explorer“ context menu option.

    The add-in works with Management Studio for SQL Server 2005 and later.

  • Tuning History and Comments
    Maintain a history of different versions as you fine tune your query.

    Step forwards and backwards to compare different versions of your query within a single session, and revert back to any version of the query with a single click.

    Add contextual comments to any version of the plan, and then save and share your work with other users.

  • Multiple Documents
    Open multiple query tuning sessions in a single Plan Explorer instance.

    Easily compare two or more plans or sessions side-by-side, or pull a tab off onto a different monitor with a Visual Studio-like docking interface.

  • Deadlocks
    Troubleshoot complex deadlocks more effectively with the synchronized diagram and treeview.

    Easily investigate the processes and queries involved in a deadlock with instant access to all of the information you need, and none that you don’t.

    The sequence of operations is clearly indicated on the diagram, with the full query text and call stack in the treeview.

Additional Features

Statements Tree

The Statements Tree allows you to sort by any column, making it easier to focus on a specific metric without having to find it in the graphical plan. You can easily spot statements with the highest costs, duration, CPU, I/O, and row counts and quickly see discrepancies in actuals vs. estimates.

Plan Tree and Top Operations

The Plan Tree shows the hierarchical representation of the query plan. Quickly spot costly scan operations and discrepancies in actual vs. estimated row counts and immediately see imbalanced thread distribution in parallel operations.

Join Diagram

The Join Diagram tab shows the underlying tables even when complex and nested views are involved. You can quickly visualize the relationship between tables involved in the plan and easily reorganize the layout using drag and drop.

Query Columns

The Query Columns tab shows every column being used in the plan, and its associated operation and index. It also shows whether columns are used for sorting, grouping or filtering.


The Parameters tab shows all query parameters and their compiled values. You can quickly spot potential plan issues due to parameter sniffing. With actual plans, you can also compare compiled and runtime values.


The Expressions tab shows simplified and expanded expressions that are used in the query. By looking at the tab, you can discover implicit conversions that you may not have spotted otherwise.

Table I/O

The Table I/O tab shows the I/O against each table and worktable involved in the plan as well as the scan count per table. It also shows the logical, physical and read-ahead reads, separated by in-row and LOB data, per table.

Layouts Panel

The layouts panel allows you to easily manage bigger query plans. With the easy-to-use toolbar, you can rotate, stretch and flatten your plans. You can also zoom in or out as well as apply a cost filter, which will remove operators if their cost is less than the specified value.

Wait Stats

The Wait Stats tab is supported when generating actual plans against SQL Server 2008 and above. It allows you to quickly correlate and compare different types of waits that result from query or schema changes.

Full Query Call Stack

See the full tree and actual runtime metrics for all nested statements, aggregated to the calling statement. Easily trace the source of statements from dynamic SQL, conditional logic, loops and nested procedure calls.

Index and Column Statistics

See when statistics were last updated, and the effectiveness of the column ordering, column selectivity, size, and density. We’ve made it easy for you to see the statistics details, understand the optimizer’s choices, and decide what you might be able to do to get a better plan.

Test Parameters

You can see the full tree and immediately see differences between compiled and runtime parameters. Generate a new estimated plan based on different parameter values you specify, and easily compare plans based on different parameter values to see if the optimizer has changed the plan strategy.

Why do the best DBAs, programmers, and analysts choose Plan Explorer?

Plan Explorer helps you quickly get to the root of tough query tuning issues by making it obvious where issues exist in your execution plan. From highlighting expensive operations to allowing you to sort by any metric in most grids, you're never more than a click or two away from pinpointing a tuning opportunity.


Plan Explorer exposes many details about the operators in a plan that either aren't available or are very cumbersome to obtain otherwise. With actual execution plan generation, you can see runtime metrics without manually setting statistics options or digging into a plan's properties.


With Plan Explorer you can share .sqlplan, .pesession, and .queryanalysis files with colleagues via Join the community where you can share your entire session, including revision history and comments. Gain access to the combined knowledge of top SQL Server industry experts.

Join the most knowledgeable query plan tuning community.

Engage with some of the world's top SQL Server industry experts. logo
Get Connected! Query Plan Community
  • Share plans securely and anonymously

    Built-in integration allows you to easily anonymize and post your query plans on

  • Get advice from top industry experts integration allows you to ask questions and get advice from SQL Server experts all over the world.

  • So you're an expert, too? Help other community members

    Help others, and discuss the latest query tuning and SQL Server topics on

Get Informed! SQL Server Industry Expert Blogs
Paul White
Joe Sack
Aaron Bertrand
Kevin Kline
Jason Hall
Paul Randal
Glenn Berry
Jonathan Kehayias
Erin Stellato
Tim Radney

“One of my favorite things about Plan Explorer is the ability to copy the plan's XML and paste it in. When I'm working in client environments and they don't have PE installed, it's incredibly helpful.”

— Erin Stellato
Erin Stellato

The best SQL query analysis and optimization tool is now completely free!

Plan Explorer logo

Download Now

Plan Explorer is a single installation file containing the application and the SSMS add-in, which allows you to jump directly to Plan Explorer from SSMS.



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