When do I Apply a Patch?

Posted: August 12, 2008 in Database Recovery, SQL Server 2008
Tags: , ,

It’s a patch not a problem, or that is the way it should be. Many people ask me on my opinion on when they should apply patches and when they should not. It’s a hard question that we each have to face each time a hot-fix, or a service pack comes out. From my own experience I can tell you I have had problems making both decisions.

First there was a service pack released for SQL Server 6.5 that would start rebooting my system at random. The bad news was that there was no back out plan and we had to rebuild that box from the ground up. Looking back on this we should have tested it first, a hard way to learn.

Second I think most of us can remember SQL Slammer. I did not apply a service pack fast enough and my team and were up all night patching servers, and rebooting them.

There are also considerations for your hardware that you have to consider. I use to be on a SAN that I will not name. Our SAN was having some performance issues time and time again. It felt like we were up night after night working on this thing. But each time we talked to the vendor it appeared like they wanted nothing to do with us until we were up to the latest version. They would release a new version almost every week and that really put us in a bind that the piece of equipment that was supposed to keep us up and running all the time was making us reboot it more often then we had ever rebooted our pre-SAN machines.

The end results in my opinion are the same. Here is what I look at when I make a decision to apply a service pack, hot fix or a firmware upgrade:

  • Look at the release notes is there major security problems that this patch will fix. If so start the process ASAP.  The fact that the patch is out there means that someone else has found it and is using that vulnerability and if that is not the case they know now.
  • If it’s not a security fix and you are not waiting on a functionality fix then I will wait for a month or two to see if there are any bugs and if so how they get worked out.
  • Wait 24 hours and look on the internet for problems for the patch, make sure that if issues are out there that you are not going to face those issues.

I recommend that you draw your own opinion. As I mentioned in my examples, I have been bit by doing it to soon and not doing it soon enough.

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