Mastering Index Selection and Troubleshooting in ClickHouse


Index selection is a critical aspect of database optimization in ClickHouse. Efficient indexes can significantly speed up query execution, but what happens when your queries aren’t using indexes as expected? In this guide, we’ll explore how index selection works in ClickHouse, common troubleshooting scenarios, and recommendations for optimizing query performance.

How does Index Selection work in ClickHouse?

ClickHouse uses a cost-based query optimizer to determine which indexes to use for query execution. Here’s how it works:

  1. Query Parsing: When a query is submitted, ClickHouse parses it to understand the filtering conditions, joins, and aggregations involved.
  2. Query Optimization: The query optimizer generates a query plan that includes the selection of indexes based on factors like filter conditions, table sizes, and data distribution.
  3. Index Evaluation: ClickHouse assigns a cost to each potential index based on factors like data distribution, cardinality, and expected query performance.
  4. Index Selection: The optimizer selects the indexes with the lowest cost for query execution. ClickHouse supports multiple indices, and it may use more than one index for a single query.

Troubleshooting Queries Not Using Index

1. Check Table Structure: Ensure that the table has appropriate indexes defined for the filtering conditions in your query. If not, consider creating the necessary indexes.

Example: Creating an index on a date column

CREATE INDEX idx_date ON your_table (date_column) TYPE minmax GRANULARITY 1;

2. Analyze Data Distribution: Analyze the distribution of data in your table. If data is unevenly distributed, ClickHouse may not use an index. Consider data redistribution strategies like OPTIMIZE TABLE or FINAL.

Example: Optimizing table to redistribute data


3. Check Filter Conditions: Review your query’s filter conditions. If you have complex expressions or non-SARGable conditions, ClickHouse may not use an index. Simplify filters where possible.

Example: Simplifying filter conditions

Before: WHERE function(column) > 100
After: WHERE column > inverse_function(100)

4. Monitor Query Execution: Use ClickHouse’s query profiling capabilities to monitor query execution and identify performance bottlenecks. Look for clues in the query profile that suggest why indexes aren’t being used.

Example: Checking query profile

EXPLAIN SELECT * FROM your_table WHERE condition;


Efficient index selection is key to optimizing query performance in ClickHouse. Understanding how ClickHouse’s query optimizer works and troubleshooting queries that don’t use indexes are essential for achieving the best results. By following these recommendations, you can improve your query performance and make the most of ClickHouse’s capabilities.

To know more about Indexing in ClickHouse, do consider reading the following articles:

ChistaDATA – Your ClickHouse Experts

For expert guidance and support in optimizing your ClickHouse infrastructure and queries, contact ChistaDATA at or (844) 395-5717. Our team specializes in ClickHouse, helping organizations unlock the full potential of their data analytics solutions.

About Shiv Iyer 222 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.