SQL Server Execution Plan
In database servers execution plan or query plan is a graphical or textual representation of steps used to bring the data from server. It is very useful tools in case of query optimization or performance tuning for a query. You can use it for the highlighted query (or all the available query in query window) in SQL Server management Studio (SSMS) by clicking on either estimated execution plan or Actual Execution Plan Button available in SQL Server management Studio SSMS. In maximum number of cases the estimated execution and actual execution plan is same. The main difference between both plan is that estimate available before execution of query and actual is available after execution of query.