Database Indexing - Why it's matter?

Database indexing is crucial in Laravel application development for several reasons:

  1. Performance Improvement:

    • Faster Query Execution: Indexes allow the database to find and retrieve specific rows much faster than it could without them. This significantly reduces the time it takes to execute queries, especially on large datasets.

    • Efficient Data Retrieval: With indexes, the database can quickly locate the data without scanning the entire table, resulting in quicker response times for SELECT queries.

  2. Optimized Resource Usage:

    • Reduced CPU and Memory Usage: Since indexes make data retrieval more efficient, they help reduce the load on the CPU and memory. This optimization is crucial for maintaining the overall performance of the application, particularly under heavy load.

    • Lower I/O Operations: Indexes decrease the number of disk I/O operations required to retrieve data, which is beneficial for improving performance in environments where disk speed is a bottleneck.

  3. Enhanced User Experience:

    • Responsive Applications: Fast data retrieval directly impacts the responsiveness of an application. Users experience quicker load times and smoother interactions, which is essential for maintaining user satisfaction and engagement.

    • Scalability: Efficient indexing allows an application to scale better. As the dataset grows, well-indexed databases can handle increased traffic and larger volumes of data without significant performance degradation.

  4. Supporting Complex Queries:

    • Efficient Sorting and Filtering: Indexes are beneficial for operations that involve sorting and filtering data. They help optimize ORDER BY and WHERE clauses, making these operations more efficient.

    • Joins Optimization: Indexes can significantly speed up JOIN operations by quickly locating the matching rows in related tables, thus improving the performance of complex queries involving multiple tables.

  5. Best Practices and Maintenance:

    • Index Management: Laravel’s Eloquent ORM provides methods to create and manage indexes easily. Properly managing indexes (adding, updating, or removing them as needed) ensures the database remains optimized.

    • Avoiding Over-Indexing: While indexes are beneficial, having too many can lead to performance issues during INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE operations. It’s important to balance the number of indexes to maintain optimal performance for both read and write operations.

Improve database with proper indexing

Improving your database with proper indexing involves understanding the specific needs of your application and the queries that are being executed most frequently. Here are steps and best practices to guide you through the process:

1. Analyze Your Queries

Identify the queries that are run most frequently and those that have the highest impact on performance. Use tools and techniques like query logs, profiling, and monitoring tools to gather this information.

2. Identify Candidates for Indexing

Focus on the following types of columns when considering which to index:

  • Primary Keys: These are often indexed automatically by the database.

  • Foreign Keys: Indexing foreign keys can speed up joins and improve referential integrity checks.

  • Columns in WHERE Clauses: Columns frequently used in WHERE clauses can benefit significantly from indexing.

  • Columns in JOIN Conditions: Columns that are used in JOIN operations.

  • Columns in ORDER BY and GROUP BY Clauses: Indexing these can speed up sorting and grouping operations.

  • Columns used in Aggregate Functions: Such as COUNT(), AVG(), SUM().

3. Use the Right Type of Index

  • Single-Column Index: Simple and useful for columns that are often queried alone.

  • Composite Index: Useful for queries that filter or sort by multiple columns. The order of columns in the index should match the order of columns in your queries.

  • Unique Index: Ensures that all values in the index are unique. This is automatically created for primary keys.

4. Avoid Over-Indexing

While indexes can speed up read operations, they can slow down write operations (INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE). Avoid creating unnecessary indexes that won’t be used frequently.

For columns that store large text values and need full-text search capabilities, consider using full-text indexes.

6. Regular Maintenance

  • Monitor and Analyze Index Usage: Regularly check which indexes are being used and which are not. Remove unused indexes.

  • Rebuild and Reorganize Indexes: Over time, indexes can become fragmented. Periodically rebuild or reorganize them to maintain performance.

Monitoring and Tuning Indexes

  1. Use Database-Specific Tools:

    • MySQL: EXPLAIN, SHOW INDEXES, and the slow query log.

    • PostgreSQL: EXPLAIN ANALYZE, pg_stat_user_indexes, and pg_stat_all_indexes.

  2. Use Laravel Debugging Tools:

    • Laravel Telescope: Provides insights into queries and their execution times.

    • Laravel Debugbar: Offers a comprehensive view of the executed queries during a request.

Implementation in Laravel

In Laravel, you can create indexes using migrations, which makes the process straightforward and maintains consistency in your database schema. Here are some examples:

  • Creating an Index:

      Schema::table('users', function (Blueprint $table) {
  • Creating a Unique Index:

      Schema::table('users', function (Blueprint $table) {
  • Creating a Composite Index:

      Schema::table('users', function (Blueprint $table) {
          $table->index(['first_name', 'last_name']);
      // another example
      Schema::table('orders', function (Blueprint $table) {
          $table->index(['user_id', 'product_id']);
  • Dropping an Index

      Schema::table('users', function (Blueprint $table) {
          $table->dropIndex(['email']); // drops index 'users_email_index'
  • Full-Text Index (if supported by your database)

      Schema::table('posts', function (Blueprint $table) {

Example: Improving Indexing Strategy

Consider we have an e-commerce application, Now let's make some improvement of this application Database.

Improving the database for an e-commerce Laravel application involves implementing a well-thought-out indexing strategy and optimizing database design. Here are some practical examples to illustrate this:

1. Indexing Key Columns

Products Table

  • Query: Retrieve products by category.

      SELECT * FROM products WHERE category_id = 1;

    Index: category_id

      Schema::table('products', function (Blueprint $table) {

Orders Table

  • Query: Fetch all orders for a specific user, sorted by date.

      SELECT * FROM orders WHERE user_id = 1 ORDER BY created_at DESC;

    Index: Composite index on user_id and created_at

      Schema::table('orders', function (Blueprint $table) {
          $table->index(['user_id', 'created_at']);

Users Table

  • Query: Find a user by email.

      SELECT * FROM users WHERE email = '';

    Index: email

      Schema::table('users', function (Blueprint $table) {

Products Table

  • Query: Search products by name or description.

      SELECT * FROM products WHERE MATCH(name, description) AGAINST('laptop');

    Index: Full-text index on name and description

      Schema::table('products', function (Blueprint $table) {
          $table->fullText(['name', 'description']);

3. Optimizing Join Operations

Orders and Products Tables

  • Query: Retrieve order details with product information.

      SELECT orders.*, products.* FROM orders
      JOIN order_product ON = order_product.order_id
      JOIN products ON order_product.product_id =
      WHERE orders.user_id = 1;

    Index: Foreign key indexes on order_product table

      Schema::table('order_product', function (Blueprint $table) {

4. Caching Frequent Queries

  • Query: Retrieve a list of featured products.

      SELECT * FROM products WHERE is_featured = 1;

    Cache: Use Laravel’s caching mechanism to store the result.

      $featuredProducts = Cache::remember('featured_products', 3600, function () {
          return Product::where('is_featured', 1)->get();

5. Regular Maintenance

  • Check how queries are perform: By using EXPLAIN, you can gain insights into how MySQL executes your queries and make informed decisions to optimize them.

    Like we have an query like this, now before the query just put a keyword EXPLAIN it will show the result how your query is executed.

  •     SELECT * FROM products 
        WHERE category_id = 1 
        AND price BETWEEN 100 AND 500 
        AND MATCH(name, description) AGAINST('laptop');
  •     EXPLAIN SELECT * FROM products 
        WHERE category_id = 1 
        AND price BETWEEN 100 AND 500 
        AND MATCH(name, description) AGAINST('laptop');
  • Monitor Index Usage: Regularly check which indexes are being used and drop unused ones.

      SHOW INDEX FROM products;
  • Rebuild Indexes: Periodically rebuild indexes to reduce fragmentation.

      OPTIMIZE TABLE products;

Example Scenario: Improving Product Retrieval

Consider a scenario where customers frequently search for products based on various filters such as category, price range, and name. Here's how to optimize it:

Products Table Structure

Schema::create('products', function (Blueprint $table) {
    $table->decimal('price', 8, 2);

    $table->fullText(['name', 'description']);

Sample Query and Indexes

  • Query: Filter products by category and price, and search by name.

      SELECT * FROM products 
      WHERE category_id = 1 
      AND price BETWEEN 100 AND 500 
      AND MATCH(name, description) AGAINST('laptop');

    With the above indexes, this query will be optimized for filtering by category and price, and searching by product name and description.


In conclusion, proper database indexing is essential for optimizing the performance of Laravel applications. By carefully analyzing query patterns and identifying which columns to index, developers can significantly enhance the speed and efficiency of data retrieval operations. This not only improves application responsiveness but also ensures better resource utilization, leading to a more scalable and robust system. Laravel’s migration tools make it straightforward to implement and manage indexes, allowing for easy adjustments as application requirements evolve.

However, it is crucial to strike a balance to avoid over-indexing, which can degrade performance during write operations. Regular monitoring and maintenance of indexes are necessary to ensure they continue to meet the application's needs effectively. By leveraging database-specific tools and Laravel's debugging utilities, developers can fine-tune their indexing strategy to sustain optimal performance. Ultimately, a well-planned indexing approach can dramatically enhance user experience and support the long-term success of a Laravel application.

To know how indexing works, you may see this article also.

End of this Series.