Posts Tagged ‘Management’

Maintenance in General is a necessity for SQL Server.  No different than changing the oil in your car or going to the Doctor for the annual exam.  There is going to be times when you are going to need to run maintenance on your server.  The tricky part is trying to determine when you should start the maintenance jobs before the busy time. For example, what if you need to backup your database, then re-index your database and follow it up with a consistency check.

The common approach to this problem is to simply determine how long a job executes (often determined by trial and error) and then adjust the start time of each job to give the job enough time to execute, before starting the next job.  The problem with this method is you are hoping the first job in the chain completes on time before you start the second job.  The common way to avoid this is leaving gaps so one long running job does not step on the next job.  However, there are options…

Option 1

If you are using a maintenance plan you can keep all the tasks that are schedule to run at the same time in the same sub-plan.  Sometimes this does not provide the flexibility that individuals want, but it is an effective method.

Option 2

You can create multiple steps to a single job.  If we use the example above where you want to run a backups, than re-index and then DBCC, you can create 3 different steps, this way as soon as one step completes the next step is executed. This method removes the need for guessing when one job would finish and the next job start.

Option 3

Each task could have its own job, then the last step of each job would start the next job.  This will add a lot of flexibility to your maintenance.  I like to use this in a couple different kinds of situations.

  1. If your maintenance is done by using multiple tools, for example… a Red Gate Backup, a custom re-indexing plan and a simple t-sql script to run a consistency check.
  2. If your maintenance is done across multiple servers… If you have 3 servers that all backup to the same network share, you could have one server execute at a time to not clog up the network and the storage.

Adding a step to execute the next job is pretty simple.

exec sp_start_job @job_name=N’My Job Name’


If you need to schedule this to occur across server, you can simply make the call to the other server using a linked server.

I hope this tip has helped you in one fashion or another.




Maintenance in General is a necessity for SQL Server.  No different than changing the oil in your car or going to the Doctor for the annual exam.  There is going to be times when you are going to need to run maintenance on your server.  The tricky part is trying to determine when you should start the maintenance so that it completes before the busy time.  The common approach to this problem is to simply determine how long a job executes (often determined by trial and error) and then adjust the start time to give the job enough time to execute.  There is another way…

SQL Server has a number of system stored procedures that you can use to perform tasks that you might be doing in the user interface, for example… If you want to stop a job you can open SQL Server Management Studio, navigate to the job, right click and stop the job.  Here is where the system supplied stored procedure comes into play.  What if your busy time of the day is at 6 AM, and you want to make sure that the indexing has finished by 5:00 AM so that the system is ready to take on the day.  Do you really want to wake up at 5:00 AM just to right click and stop job, in the chance that it is running?

Simply schedule a job that will execute at 5:00 AM (the time you want to make sure the maintenance job is done by), and create a step that will stop the job.

exec sp_stop_job @job_name=N’My Job Name’

Not to complex. But what if you want to add some logic to the job so that not only does it just try to stop the job it will check the job to determine if it is executing first?  And now that we are looking at some of the options there are, we should put a line of code in there that will email us whenever the maintenance job has run long and had to be stopped.

Select name

from msdb..sysjobs j

join msdb..sysjobactivity a on j.job_id = a.job_id and = ‘My Job Name’

Where start_execution_date is not null and stop_execution_date is null

If @@rowcount > 0


EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_stop_job @job_name = ‘My Job Name’

EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_send_dbmail @profile_name = ‘MyMailProfile’, @recipients = ‘’,

@body = ‘The Indexing Rebuild Job had to be stopped due to long run time.’, @subject = ‘Index Rebuild’ ;


Else Return

I hope this tip has helped you in one fashion or another.  If you would like my list of TOP 10 TIPS FOR SQL SERVER PERFORMANCE AND RESILIENCY can be found here with Tip # 1.


Top 10 Tips for SQL Server Performance and Resiliency

This article is part 10 in a series on the top 10 most common mistakes that I have seen impact SQL Server Performance and Resiliency. This post is not all-inclusive.

Most common mistake #10: Storage

For the final post in the top 10 items that influence the performance and resiliency of the databases, we will talk about storage.  Storage is by far the number one cause of performance issues I have experienced, and over the last 20 years of my career, the changes with storage have been huge. When I first started as a professional, we were using internal spinning disks and then quickly changed up to internal RAID arrays. Five or so years later, we moved to external RAID cages.  Eventually the road took us to SAN and NAS storage and most recently SSD.  With all these changes, it is easy to see why we have administrators who focus on nothing but storage.  If you are fortunate enough to have a Storage Administrator, do you as a DBA still need to understand what the storage is doing?

How can you identify if you are having some sort of performance bottleneck?  There are a number of indicators that can provide you with the evidence your database is having a storage issue. A common indicator used for a number of years is the storage latency.  Storage latency information is collected by using the Performance Monitor in Windows.  Add the counters Average Disk/sec Read and Average Disk/sec Write.

The storage latency can be monitored in real time or the data can be recorded by starting a data collection.

According to Microsoft Best Practices, the latency on the disk the log file resides should be less than five milliseconds, and the data file latency should be less than 20 milliseconds.  In my experience, I have seen log file latency climb as high as 10 millisecond and sometimes a little higher during spikes without any end user impact.   In addition take location note of the TempDB database as we talked about in Tip 8. You will want to ensure you are keeping the TempDB on the fastest storage you can.

There are additional tools you may want to consider using to dig deeper into the performance of your storage systems such as SQLIO and SQLIOSIM both from Microsoft.  A couple popular third party tools include IOMeter and CrystalDiskMark.

Please do not miss my other blogs regarding this topic.

Top 10 Tips for SQL Server Performance and Resiliency

  1. Improper Backups
  2. Improper Security
  3. Improper Maintenance
  4. Not having a Baseline
  5. SQL Server Max Memory
  6. Change History
  7. Disaster Recovery Plans
  8. TempDB
  9. AutoShrink


Tip # 6 – Change History

Top 10 Tips for SQL Server Performance and Resiliency

This article is part 6 in a series on the top 10 most common mistakes that I have seen impacting SQL Server Performance and Resiliency. This post is not all inclusive.

Most common mistake #6: Not Keeping a Change History

Business today moves fast, companies change interfaces to keep content relevant and are continuing to offer new services to their client base. In a perfect world code is tested 10 ways to Sunday and is never released with bugs or design issues, however we don’t live in that world. I mean no disrespect to the developers that spend hour upon hours trying to provide the best changes possible. There are just so many variables that making a release perfect every time is just not a reality.

There is an inherent risk with change; software, hardware or configurations including SQL Server.

When a change is being planned no matter how small of a change, these changes should be documented. Chances are most DBA’s have heard this before; however, simple changes are often overlooked. Documenting the change is a great start; however, keep in mind that it is critical that the documented changes are easily researched. In my experience with working with SQL Server, most issues with SQL Server can be tracked back to a date when an issue started. Because of this, I recommend storing documents so they can be searched by date.

Stability increases when you embrace change history and take change management couple steps further. Consider setting up a change process. Implementing policies such as not allowing changes to be made to the SQL Server unless they are being made via scripts. There are some great benefits to only allowing changes via script. Consider a small table change, a few of the benefits that you will see by using a script over the user interface:

  • When changes are made via script, and the script has been saved it is easy to see exactly what was executed. When changes are made via the user interface you have to assume you know what the exact change was.
  • Changes made via the user interface are susceptible to the “fat finger” otherwise known as a typo. You can review your change with your eyes, but having others review your change is more difficult. If you mistype the name you are now left with having to make a second change to correct your mistake.
  • When using a script, you can share what the change is going to look like before the change is made. You can send the new table layout to other teams in the company and they can see exactly the totality of the change.

When making changes it is also important to have a roll back script. This is most likely the most overlooked part of change management. Having a roll back script is not often needed and when everything is rolling out as planned there is no thoughts to having to roll back these changes. When a changes are made and it isn’t going as well as it was planned someone may make the decision to cancel the change. A restore can often lead to extended hours of downtime and unexpected impacts to customers. These are the times when the extra effort put into a rollback script prove to be priceless.


Top 10 Tips for SQL Server Performance and Resiliency

  1. Improper Backups
  2. Improper Security
  3. Improper Maintenance
  4. Not having a Baseline
  5. SQL Server Max Memory

Top 10 Tips for SQL Server Performance and Resiliency

This article is part 3 of 10 in a series on the most common mistakes that I have seen impacting SQL Server Performance and Resiliency. This post is related to the most common errors I see and is not all inclusive.
Update: For even more tips, Fortified Data has written a helpful post with recommendations for creating a SQL Server maintenance plan

#1 Most common mistake – Incomplete Backups

#2 Most common mistake – Check Your Security

Most common mistake #3: Improper Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, SQL Server is no different than an automobile; both require regular maintenance to keep them running at peak performance. In similar fashion, the greater the load, the more often the maintenance is required. Neglecting maintenance is the third biggest mistake that I frequently see impacting SQL Server’s performance.

Fragmented Indexes

Indexes in SQL Server are very similar to indexes in a book. The primary difference between indexes in a book and in your database is the indexes contained within the database are much easier to rebuild when new information is inserted. Imagine you had a book with 100 pages of text. If the book were indexed, finding specific information wouldn’t be too difficult and shouldn’t take much time. Now add 50 pages of new text in the middle of the book. Finding specific text after the 50 pages has been added would be difficult, all the page numbers would be off and the new text wouldn’t be indexed.

To solve this problem with SQL Server, we have the option to rebuild the index or reorganize an index. This should be completed on a regular basis. This ensures data location accuracy, which eases the work load on SQL server. This allows SQL Server to find the specific data it needs quickly and efficiently.

Stale Statistics

Sometimes, people have difficulty understanding SQL Server Statistics. Think of it this way: If you managed a sports team and it was your job to find new talent, would you want to see how much potential the talent has? You may want to know how strong they are or how fast they can run. Trying to pick up a new quarterback without that information would be difficult. What if the player’s statistics you were looking at were 5 years old? Maybe the statistics were from when they were in the best shape of their career and now they have gone a little past their prime. You may hire a player based on bad information if you didn’t know the statistics were out of date, they may not be that star performer you were looking for.

SQL Server keeps statistics for you as well. This information keeps your SQL Server aware of the information in the database and helps it decide on what the fastest way to retrieve data is. However, there are times when this information needs to be refreshed. Keeping your statistics up to date is going to keep your SQL Server aware of what shape your data is in.

Consistency Check

Isn’t it nice when your car starts to warn you before something really bad is going to happen? Sometimes it can be something as simple as change the oil in the engine or changing the battery.

SQL Server has warning signs as well; DBCC commands or database consistency checks should be executed to catch when something may be amiss in your data. This doesn’t mean that it can catch everything, but this layer of protection can save you some serious pain down the road.


Children that are being watched at a child care center or by parents are a lot less likely to get themselves into trouble. SQL Server is no different. A monitored SQL Server is less likely to have critical non-recoverable errors than servers that are not monitored. For example, pretend you have a database that requires 100 gigs of space for a backup file. If that storage falls below having 100 gigs of space available, your SQL Server backup is going to fail. What would happen if you lost the storage due to a hardware failure and now you need to restore from a backup? You could lose a tremendous amount of data and time, assuming you are able to recover it at all.

Now consider the same situation with a monitored SQL Server. A monitored SQL Server should inform you that you had a backup failure, and if it is scheduled via a Job in SQL Server, you can receive an alert from the SQL Server itself. In addition, there would be entries in the error log that you would see as well. A monitored SQL Server is going to give you an opportunity to correct the backup issue, before you need to restore the database.

It’s getting easier to complete a basic install of SQL Server with each and every version. It takes very little time to have a database up and running. It is so simple that many organizations install their SQL Server and forget about it – at least until there becomes a problem with it. Most of the time when I am asked to perform an emergency fix or a restore of a database, it is being done on a server that isn’t being monitored.

For detailed tips on how to move from reactive to proactive SQL Server monitoring and management, read this post.

Database Mail, Alerts and Operators not configured

As mentioned in the monitoring section of this post SQL Server can be configured to send emails in a number of situations; if a job fails or errors are raised with specific severities. These emails are sent to operators that are configured within SQL Server. So when a backup fails, SQL Server can send you an email, allowing you to fix the issue.

When my son started to learn how to drive a car, we spent a number of hours talking about the maintenance. We reviewed how he should keep sand in his trunk to help get traction on the ice, how his oil needs to be changed and the tires need to be rotated, all to ensure his safety while on the road. A well maintained SQL Server can give your organization a stable and well performing database.

Great Article

Posted: July 30, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Recently a number of DBA’s were interviewed for an Article/Blog for the website.  I was one of the DBA’s that they picked to Interview along with Cristian Lefter, Andrew Fyer, Namwar Rizvi, Denny Cherry, Brian Kelley and Pinal Dave.  Along with Brent Ozar who will be speaking at this falls SQL Server SSWUG V-Conference. 

There was a number of really interesting questions asked about everything from where we believe our careers are going to what frustrates us the most as DBA’s.  There was some focus on different types of DBA’s and how we are starting to see some areas of SQL Server requiring specialists to really implement to the fullest extent.  If you would like to see the three part interview check out this link.

While you are there you can take a look at what Job’s may be open in your area and even post your own live resume.  Many of you may know already but I like to spend time looking at the management of staff and how to find the best job for you as a DBA.  A number of my articles on are writing in that direction. 

A Job or career

Posted: June 22, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I was talking this over with a friend of mine not to long ago, a co-worker and my wife. I find in interesting how people 20 to 30 years ago would find a job at 20 years of age and they would be with that company forever, they would retire there. I can not tell you how many people I know that remember that time in our history. Yet today it seams like people spend a year or two and a job and leave.

I expect this of contractors that is what they do. They come in and work for a project and leave. I have done contract work like this and I am not saying this is bad at all, this is just what they like. I am just surprised on why this is like this with permanent staff anymore. Maybe its because of my background. I was in the Marine Corps where we were taught that we did not have a personal life. We shared everything with our higher ranked Marines. Think about it, I would not want to go into battle with someone who just got a dear John letter if I knew this guy or girl was heart broken. In time of war you need to know the person next to you is solid, and the mind is in the right place.

When I left the Corps it was a big change for me. I learned quickly that my boss did not care what was going on at home, or if we had a family outing that I wanted to go to. They wanted to make sure that I was there when I was supposed to or I was sick. I spent years talking about personal information with my boss, and didn’t realize he didn’t care.

With that as my history it really makes me thing about why people stay for such a short time at companies. It pretty rare to hear someone has been at their company for 20 years. Is it that companies don’t treat the employees like the should, is it the fringe benefits like a Christmas ham? I know that at one point in time I had to hire a DBA. The market was over flowing with DBA’s and the company did not have a lot of money. I interviewed a candidate that I felt had the right skills and would grow nice into the position. The employee ended up being a great DBA. Someone who learned a lot real quick, with in a year I would say he was a solid Mid level DBA and should be making money that equaled that. This made me realize very quickly that if I did not get him a raise, he would be gone and soon. The company had a policy that kept me from giving him more then a certain percentage. So even if I got him the max amount of money he would have still be way underpaid. He did end up leaving the company and took a lot of knowledge with him. When the company replaced him it was for someone who cost what I should have been paying him in the first place.

I guess in short I don’t think that companies treat the employees as well as the use to and I don’t think people have that loyalty because of it. Everything is about the numbers. I am old enough to remember going to Vegas and getting comps for everything, heck you are lucky if you get a buffet now a day’s. Anyhow, just thinking out loud again, maybe we as owners start treating our people better then we may keep them longer, but its hard to start that trend if you invest time as an employer into someone who may leave you in 3 months. I remember when the MCSE test came out and a major company offered to send staff to training to get certified. The company was treating the staff well, but did not raise their pay. In turn you now have educated staff that was ready to make 10k more a year just by changing jobs. How do we change this pattern and do you think we need to? I think we should. I would think that my life would be so much easier if staff that created applications and databases where at the same company 10 years later.