Full Table Scans reads all the blocks under the High Water Mark and filter out those that do not meet the selection criteria. Each row is examined to determine whether it satisfies the statement’s WHERE clause.
During full table scan, the blocks are read sequentially. Because the blocks are adjacent, I/O calls larger than a single block can be used to speed up the process. The size of the read calls range from one block to the number of blocks indicated by the initialization parameter DB_FILE_MULTIBLOCK_READ_COUNT. Using multiblock reads means a full table scan can be performed very efficiently.
Full table scans are cheaper than index range scans when accessing a large fraction of the blocks in a table. This is because full table scans can use larger I/O calls, and making fewer large I/O calls is cheaper than making many smaller calls.
When the Optimizer Uses Full Table Scans
Lack of Index
If the query is unable to use any existing indexes, then it uses a full table scan. For example, if there is a function used on the indexed column in the query, the optimizer is unable to use the index and instead uses a full table scan as below
ScanSELECT last_name, first_name
WHERE UPPER(last_name) LIKE :b1
If you need to use the index for case-independent searches, then either do not permit mixed-case data in the search columns or create a function-based index, such as UPPER(last_name), on the search column.
Large Amount of Data
If the optimizer thinks that the query will access most of the blocks in the table, then it uses a full table scan, even though, the index is available. Oracle takes FTS if the data are spreaded in most of the blocks. Optimizer takes FTS if clustering factor is high.
If a table contains less than DB_FILE_MULTIBLOCK_READ_COUNT blocks under the high water mark, which can be read in a single I/O call, then a full table scan might be cheaper than an index range scan, regardless of the fraction of tables being accessed or indexes present.
Full Table Scan Hints
Use the hint FULL(table alias) if you want to force the use of a full table scan. For more information on the FULL hint.
SELECT /*+ FULL(e) */ employee_id, last_name
FROM employees e
WHERE last_name LIKE :b1;