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SQL Server Performance: Differences Between HAVING and WHERE in T-SQL

In SQL Server T-SQL, both the HAVING and WHERE clauses are used to filter rows in a SQL query, but they serve different purposes and are used in different parts of a query. Let's explore the differences between the two and provide examples of their performance differences.

Sample Data

You can use this Fiddle to follow along and practice HAVING and WHERE clauses T-SQL

Create Orders table with sample data
OrderID INT,
CustomerID INT,
OrderDate DATE,
TotalAmount DECIMAL(10, 2),
PRIMARY KEY (CustomerID, OrderID)

INSERT INTO Orders (OrderID, CustomerID, OrderDate, TotalAmount)
(1, 101, '2023-08-01', 150.00),
(2, 102, '2023-08-02', 75.50),
(3, 101, '2023-08-03', 200.00),
(4, 103, '2023-08-04', 50.00),
(5, 102, '2023-08-05', 120.00),
(6, 104, '2023-08-06', 300.00),
(7, 101, '2023-08-07', 75.00),
(8, 103, '2023-08-08', 250.00),
(9, 102, '2023-08-09', 180.00),
(10, 105, '2023-08-10', 90.00);

Orders Table


WHERE and HAVING Examples

WHERE Clause

The WHERE clause is used to filter rows before the GROUP BY or aggregation is applied. It operates on individual rows and determines which rows are included in the subsequent grouping or aggregation. It's commonly used to filter data based on individual column values.

Example: Suppose you have a table named Orders with columns CustomerID, OrderID, OrderDate, and TotalAmount. The combination of CustomerID and OrderID is the primary key of the table. You want to retrieve the orders with total amount more than $100.

Filter TotalAmount with WHERE clause
FROM Orders
WHERE TotalAmount > 100;

Query Result


In this query, the WHERE clause filters rows from the Orders table before any grouping or aggregation. It directly operates on individual rows based on the TotalAmount column. The database engine can efficiently utilize any indexes on the TotalAmount column to quickly identify and retrieve the rows that satisfy the condition. This query doesn't involve any grouping or aggregate functions, making it relatively straightforward and efficient.


The HAVING clause is used to filter the result of an aggregation after the GROUP BY has been applied. It operates on the result of the grouping and aggregation and determines which aggregated groups are included in the final result set. It's used to filter aggregated data based on the results of aggregate functions.

You could get the same query result using GROUP BY and HAVING clauses.

Filter TotalAmount with HAVING clause
,SUM(TotalAmount) AS TotalAmount
FROM Orders
HAVING SUM(TotalAmount) > 100;

Query Result


In this query, the HAVING clause filters the results after a GROUP BY operation and aggregation have been performed. The SUM(TotalAmount) aggregate function is calculated for each group of (CustomerID, OrderID) pairs. The filtering is applied after these aggregations, and it involves calculating the sums for all groups before filtering out those that don't meet the condition. This process requires more computation and may be less efficient, especially if the table contains a large number of rows and the aggregations are complex.

Comparing the two queries, the first query (using the WHERE clause) is generally more efficient because it directly filters rows based on the TotalAmount column (which could have an index already) before any aggregation occurs. The second query (using the HAVING clause) involves additional computation due to the aggregation before filtering.

In summary, when filtering based on non-aggregated column values, it's typically more efficient to use the WHERE clause. When filtering based on aggregated results, the HAVING clause is necessary, but it might involve more processing and be less optimized for direct row-level filtering.

Performance Differences Between HAVING and WHERE

The performance differences between the HAVING and WHERE clauses are mainly related to the order in which filtering is applied.

  1. Filtering Order:

    • The WHERE clause filters individual rows before any grouping or aggregation is performed.
    • The HAVING clause filters aggregated results after grouping and aggregation have been applied.
  2. Optimization:

    • The WHERE clause can often be optimized more efficiently by SQL Server, as it operates on individual rows and can take advantage of indexes on specific columns.
    • The HAVING clause works on aggregated data, which might require more processing and can be less efficient in terms of optimization compared to the WHERE clause.
  3. Usage:

    • If you're filtering based on individual column values, use the WHERE clause.
    • If you're filtering based on aggregated results or using aggregate functions like SUM, COUNT, AVG, etc., use the HAVING clause.

In terms of performance differences, if filtering is done based on individual column values, using the WHERE clause generally provides better performance. However, in cases where filtering requires aggregated results, you need to use the HAVING clause, even though it might not be as optimized as the WHERE clause for individual row filtering.

Remember that actual performance can depend on various factors such as the complexity of the query, the database schema, indexes, and the amount of data being processed. It's a good practice to use appropriate indexes, write efficient queries, and profile performance when dealing with large datasets.