Fix Slow Queries. Fast.

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Get Advanced Query Tuning Features Not Found in Any Other Tool



  • Index Analysis
  • Statistics Analysis with Histogram
  • Query Performance Profiling and Playback
  • Actual Plan Recosting
  • Superior Plan Diagram
  • SSMS Add-In
  • Tuning History and Comments
  • Deadlocks Visualization
  • And more

Plan Explorer helps you quickly get to the root of SQL Server query problems

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

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


Microsoft .NET Framework 4.7.1 (Offline Installer) for Windows 7 SP1, Windows, Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Windows 10 Creators Update, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016.

Plan Explorer User Guide   |    Demo Kit for Plan Explorer

By clicking download, you agree to the SentryOne Privacy Policy and End User License Agreement.

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 plan operators 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.

“Thank you for building the tool the SQL Server team was never able to realize! The much-needed tool which provides the insights into SQL Server internals which everyone who writes a production query should understand. You created a very valuable bridge for all SQL Server professionals enabling them to write better, performing, and scalable SQL Server code.”

Gert Drapers
Chief Software Architect, Hulu
Former Principal Group Manager – Cloud Data Tools, Microsoft

Learn how to achieve optimal query performance with free Plan Explorer training.


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Discover the Power of Plan Explorer


Index Analysis

Uncover a new, easy way to gauge the impact of potential index changes

Plan Explorer's scoring algorithms help you 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 toward the elusive 100% score—before executing a single line of code against SQL Server.  Learn More.




Statistics Analysis with Histogram

Visualize 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 the index Tipping Point, and identify opportunities for better indexes.

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.



Pinpoint SQL Server query performance problems in Azure Data Studio



Plan Explorer ADS Extension

Quickly uncover SQL Server query tuning opportunities in Azure Data Studio.

Learn More


Query Performance Profiling and Playback

See which operators are impacting CPU, I/O, and waits

Replay queries with access to their live performance statistics through integrated history charts. With Plan Explorer, you can play back the query profile to see exactly which operators are adding the most load on system resources—without the need to run the query again.


Actual Plan Recosting

View actual operator costs instead of estimated costs

Instead of delivering only an estimated (and often inaccurate) cost for a plan operator, Plan Explorer can display the actual observed costs. You can see the difference by toggling the view between Estimated and Actual cost.



Jump directly to Plan Explorer from SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) with the SSMS add-in

Simply right-click an execution plan and choose the ”View with SentryOne Plan Explorer“ context menu option. The add-in works with SSMS for SQL Server 2005 and later.

Tuning History and Comments

Maintain a history of different versions as you fine-tune your query

Step forward and backward 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, 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 into a different monitor with a Visual Studio-like docking interface.

Deadlock Analysis

Troubleshoot complex deadlocks quickly and easily 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. Playback lets you easily track the sequence of events leading up to the deadlock, and the Optimize Layout function dramatically simplifies the most complex deadlock graphs by eliminating all extraneous process and lock nodes.


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. You also can quickly see discrepancies between actual and estimated metrics.

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 functionality.

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 also can 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 might 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. This tab also shows the logical, physical, and read-ahead reads, separated by in-row and LOB data, per table.

Layouts Panel

The layouts panel lets you 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 later versions. This tab lets you 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, as well as the effectiveness of the column ordering, column selectivity, size, and density. Plan Explorer makes it easy for you to see the statistics details, understand the optimizer’s choices, and determine how 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 whether the optimizer has changed the plan strategy.



Free eBook

Query Optimization

This eBook will help you get the absolute most out of the additional insight Plan Explorer offers.

Learn More


Insights from some of the world’s top SQL Server industry experts.



Paul White

Paul Randal-581314-edited
Paul Randal
Itzik Ben-Gan
Itzik Ben-Gan


Erin Stellato


Joe Sack


Glenn Berry

Jason Hall-Small

Jason Hall


Tim Radney


Aaron Bertrand


Jonathan Kehayias








Microsoft .NET Framework 4.7.1 (Offline Installer) for Windows 7 SP1, Windows, Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Windows 10 Creators Update, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016.

Plan Explorer User Guide   |    Demo Kit for Plan Explorer

By clicking download, you agree to the SentryOne Privacy Policy and End User License Agreement.

Additional Resources

Introduction to Query Tuning on Microsoft SQL Server


View Webinar

Visualizing the Tipping Point with Plan Explorer


Read More

SQL Server Performance Tuning Basics

Read More

SentryOne Plan Explorer 3.0 Demo Kit


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