New White Paper: SQL Server Extended Events and Notifications

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Download the new white paper: How to Use SQL Server’s Extended Events and Notifications to Proactively Resolve Performance Issues SQL Server comes with a wide array of tools for monitoring your environment. There are logs and traces that provide information when errors occur, but these are often used passively to react to events that have already occurred.  There's PerfMon, and Profiler, and loads of Dynamic Management Views to check.  But where to look? As database administrators (DBA), we need to monitor our environments proactively and create solutions as issues arise. In this white … [Read more...]

Dev Advice: Make a Tiny Dev Database Act Like a HUGE Prod Database

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Here's an evergreen question.  It's a question that never completely goes away.  But lately, I've been getting it a few times per week.  So I thought it's time to readdress the question, which usually takes some form of the following: I can't really do effective development on my little dev laptop because our production SQL Server database is 15 gazillionbytes, way too big for my workstation.  What's a uber-nerd to do?  Well, maybe they didn't use the word "uber-nerd".  But you get my drift, right?  The production database is really, really big - unmanageably big for keeping a local copy.  … [Read more...]

New on SQLMag Tool Time Blog – Update to FineBuild

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Recall back in January 2011 that I profiled the cool tool, FineBuild for SQL Server, which helps you configure and quickly deploy installations of SQL Server.  Not only does FineBuild help you install a new SQL Server using the settings and configuration options you desire, it goes a few steps further by ensuring that any additional programs, tools, and utilities are also installed. Ed Vassie, the creator of FineBuild, has revised and improved the tools since I last wrote about it.  Ed has naturally added a number of bug fixes and documentation improvements. Several new features... [READ … [Read more...]

Must-Have Resources – SQL Server Backup & Recovery

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One of the things that drives me crazy as I'm getting older is that my brain is losing the capacity to differentiate version numbers.  As I speak travel around speaking with customers and at conferences, I find my self saying things like "I can't recall if this problem was fixed in SQL Server 2000 or 2005. But you don't have to worry about that any more."  Or things like "That feature was added in SQL Server 2008 R2, eh, or was that version 6.5.  DOH!" followed by a loud slapping sound as I whap my palm into my forehead. The Internet doesn't forget either.  Recommendations that were once … [Read more...]

Information Hoarder No More!

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I hate to admit it, but I'm a hoarder.  Yes, like those insane people on the A&E TV show.  Only my hoarding is all virtual.  For example, take the image above.  That's just a tiny part of my Google Reader home page.  That's a tiny part of my Google Reader home page AFTER reading most of the day on a recent Sunday. I still had thousands of entries to go after hours of reading.  On top of that, I subscribe to some technical e-newsletters.  I'm a member of quite a few LinkedIn discussion groups, each of which produce daily and weekly newsletters. (I only subscribe to the weekly versions).  … [Read more...]

Everybody Needs a Test Harness

When you're developing new Transact-SQL code or modifying some existing code, do you just launch directly into programming? I know that I did just that, for years.  It wasn't until I was trying to performance tune some existing code that I realized I hadn't actually taken caching of data and execution plans into account.  So all those modified stored procedures that I was so proud of might not actually be faster than the first generation of procedures because I hadn't checked to ensure that I was testing cached programs against uncached programs (and, by extension, the data used by those … [Read more...]

Simplifying CSV Data Loads

Data files containing comma separated values, or CSV, are some of the most common data formats used for data representation and storage outside the database.  When it comes to loading CSV data into the database, many options exist, however, few make it as simple as CSVexpress, powered by expressor software.  I recently visited www.csvexpress.com to check out just how simple it could get.   In short, CSVexpress offers a repeatable and quick way to load any CSV file into SQL Server (or any other database).   For those whose data quality is not as pristine as it should be, CSVexpress also offers … [Read more...]

Troubleshooting Repeated Login Failures on SQL Server

 I’d recently experienced a situation where I was getting repeated login failures to a SQL Server where I knew that I had the correct user name and password.  Each time, I’d get error 18456 in response. "Login failed for user '<user_name>'. (Microsoft SQL Server, Error: 18456)". The challenge when troubleshooting this error message is that you may have a problem with SQL Server or you may have a problem with Active Directory or Kerberos, if you’re using one of those authentication technologies. A False Trail When times are good, and you’re able to make a connection, you … [Read more...]

Microsoft Document Watch for Operational Excellence

Back when my day-to-day duties included database administration work and enterprise architecture, I became rather obsessed with the idea of operational excellence.  I read everything I could on the topic.  I made a list of favorites, which became somewhat shabby over time, as I dog-eared important pages and scribbled notes in the margins.  (Perhaps that list of favorites might, in and of itself, make a good blog post).  Fast-forward a decade and I'm still mightily interested in operational excellence for IT organizations.  It's just that so much good material is available for free on the … [Read more...]

ETL Demo with Data From Data.Gov

A little over a month ago, I wrote an article (Is There Such a Thing as Easy ETL) about expressor software and their desktop ETL application, expressor Studio.  I wrote about how it seemed much easier than the native ETL tools in SQL Server when I was reading up on the tool, but that the "proof would be in the pudding" so to speak when I actually tried it out loading some free (and incredibly useful) data from the US federal data clearinghouse, Data.Gov. If you'd rather not read my entire previous article - quick recap, expressor Studio uses “semantic types” to manage and abstract mappings … [Read more...]