PASS Summit 2016

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Last Pass Summit 2016night I arrived in Seattle for PASS Summit 2016. This is my 4th consecutive PASS Summit, and my second time to be here as a speaker, and I am certainly looking forward to the week.

Before I had even checked in I ran into a few friends and ended up talking for a while and catching up on things. This is one of the things I love about PASS Summit, the people.

The Washington State Convention center is all decked out with branding for the PASS Summit 2016.

Last year I made the mistake of booking my hotel on PriceLine and I ended up on the other side of downtown, and had quite a journey to get to the conference each day. This year I decided to book the hotel through PASS, the room is a reasonable price, and its right next to the conference center.


For those who are attending for the first time, I have a few tips, in no particular order:

  • When you see someone you recognize, go up and say Hi and introduce yourself.
  • Keep an eye on the twitter hash tags for the event #sqlpass, #sqlsummit, and #passsummit. You might find out about some interesting things happening.
  • For the first timer’s go to the first timers meeting. You will get some great information.
  • Go to the welcome reception and talk to people.
  • Stay hydrated. With the long days and after hour activities, it is easy to forget about drinking enough water.


Pass Summit 2016 SpeakerAs I mentioned in an earlier post, if anyone wants some personal training on Database Health Monitor, I will have some time on Monday and Tuesday, just catch me and let me know.

This year I am presenting on database corruption. The session is titled “When Database Corruption Strikes”. The session on on friday afternoon at 3:30pm and is one of the last sessions of the conference. I will be showing 3 corrupt databases and ways to find and fix the corruption with non data loss.

If you have any experience with database corruption, I would love to hear your stories. Catch me anytime and let me know what your experiences were with corruption.

Most importantly –  make personal connections, this is the biggest SQL Server database event of the year, and it might be your only opportunity to meet some of the attendees until next year.

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Interested in some personal training on Database Health Monitor?

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AStar_of_lifet PASS Summit next week, I will be available most of the day on Monday and Tuesday to meet with anyone to discuss Database Health Monitor, or consulting work. Just send me an email or contact me via twitter @SqlEmt.

I am also available to meet up during the summit, for lunch, dinner, drinks whatever works best.

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Presenting at PASS Summit Next Week

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Next week I will be presenting on Database Corruption on Friday afternoon at Pass Summit.  The session is called “When Database Corruption Strikes.”   This session is on Friday afternoon, if you are interested in how to deal with database corruption, please come and see this presentation.


The session is the last session of the week at 3:30 on Friday afternoon at PASS Summit in Room 2AB.

Here is the session abstract:

Your database is running fine month after month with no problems. Suddenly someone reports that their query won’t run. They get an error stating “SQL Server detected a logical consistency-based I/O error”, or something even scarier. Do you know what to do now?

We will walk through three corrupt databases exploring ways to go about finding and fixing the corruption. More importantly we will explore how to prevent further data loss at the time corruption occurs. Learn what things you can do to protect yourself when corruption strikes. Learn how to avoid making things worse, and how to protect your data if things do get worse. You will leave with a checklist of steps to use when you encounter corruption. By the end of this session you will be ready to take on corruption, one database at a time.

I look forward to seeing you there. If you happen to see me any other time at PASS Summit, please come up and say Hi.

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CHUG 2016 Session – Tune, Monitor and Analyze the Health of Your Centricity SQL Server

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Here is the session download material for my CHUG 2016 Session – Tune, Monitor and Analyze the Health of Your Centricity SQL Server.

centricity performanceDownload PerformanceCHUGAustin2016.pdf

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Presenting this Friday at the CHUG Conference

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This Friday, October 14th I will be presenting at the Centricity Healthcare Users Group (CHUG) conference in Austin TX. The session is on “Tune, Monitor and Analyze the Health of Your Centricity SQL Server” and I will be co-presenting with Derrick Bovenkamp.

Here is the session abstract:

Misconfigured SQL Servers can slow down your overall system performance. Sometimes making a configuration change, or adding a maintenance plan can a large impact on the overall performance of your SQL Server both positively or negativity. Do you know if that last SQL Server setting helped or hurt your performance? Do you know how to tell?

First we will take a look at how to monitor SQL Server baseline health and throughput, using free and inexpensive SQL Server tools. Learn how to tell where your system bottlenecks are with this baseline analysis.

Next explore options and settings to improve TempDB performance, and what that means to your performance. Find out how to speed up backups and more importantly, the restore process. Learn things to avoid in your maintenance plans that can slow down your performance. With these and other SQL Server best practices, find out how to get your SQL Server running at is optimal performance level.

In this demo driven session, we will explore common SQL Server settings that can be adjusted to improve the performance of the SQL Server behind your Centricity EMR.

If you are at the CHUG conference in Austin TX please come check out this session, or just track me down to say Hi.

Chug 2016 conference


Posted in CHUG, Performance Tuning Tagged with: , ,

Don’t Reboot SQL Server So Often

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How often should I reboot SQL Server?

It is a common belief with computers that rebooting cleans things up in memory and that they run better if they are rebooted more often. With your windows desktop or your cell phone operating system this may be true, but that’s not the case with SQL Server.Reboot SQL Server

Over time as SQL Server runs it fills up the memory with the things that it commonly uses. This includes data in tables that are most frequently hit, queries and stored procedures that are regularly run, and cached plans. The more of these things that SQL Server has in memory the less often it has to go to disk to use them.

If you reboot your SQL Server, you are starting out with nothing cached in memory and the very first query you run will bring things into memory, queries that get run over the next few hours will load up the SQL Server caches to improve performance, but until these the memory has been loaded up with the data and plans that it needs the SQL Server will likely run slow.

Sometimes after a SQL Server reboot it may take a day or two for everything to load up into memory for optimal performance, on other systems it may load up in an hour or two. So every time you reboot your SQL Server, or just restart the SQL Server process, you are starting over with slow performance for a while until SQL Server loads everything that it needs in memory to run smoothly.

I once worked on a project where the client had a reboot scheduled every Sunday night, then about every other Tuesday night they had scheduled updates, which usually caused a reboot. There were generally rebooting about twice a week, and Friday was the only day that they said that they had great performance. We turned off the weekly Sunday reboot, and switched updates to a monthly schedule rather than weekly, and their performance problems were dramatically reduced.


  • So don’t ever reboot your SQL Server as a regular practice on a weekly basis. This will likely cause more performance problems that it will help.
  • Don’t try rebooting your SQL Server as a way to try and speed up queries, this will likely have the opposite effect.
  • I like to reboot a SQL Server when I see one that has been running for more than 2 years, just as a good practice, but less that that I wouldn’t worry about it.
  • Reboot when you install updates, and don’t install updates too frequently.

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Database Corruption Overview for Beginners

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Database Corruption Overview: Database corruption is one of those things that you can only plan for by practicing your response plaDatabase Corruption Overviewn. Out of all of the things that can happen to your SQL Server this is the one that you are most likely going to want to ask for help when you encounter it.

What is Corruption?

Database corruption refers to corrupt pages in the database that are incorrectly formatted. This could be as simple as a single bit, or as huge as the entire file. Sometimes this type of corruption prevents the database from starting, other times it may prevents queries from running. Sometimes it may go undetected for some time, and may present as missing or incorrect data.

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Cortana Intelligence Suite – Podcast Episode #62.

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This weeks latest podcast is an interview with Melissa Coates, on the topic of Cortana Intelligence Suite.

From this weeks podcast:

The Cortana Intelligence Suite is actually a huge collection of services in Azure for the purposes of providing big data and analytical solutions. So the suite consists of: Azure data factory, data catalog, Azure SQL data warehouse, Azure data lake which is actually a composite of three services, azure machine learning, stream analytics, event hub, PowerBI, cognitive services, the bot framework, and finally the Cortana digital assistant like you just mentioned. So although they named the suite after Cortana, the digital assistant is just one small part. She originated as a character in Halo, as a smart artificial intelligence character that can learn and adapt. And then she was the inspiration for the digital assistant in Windows. And now this suite of tools is named after her because she symbolizes the contextualized intelligence they hope to achieve with the suite of tools.

Listen to the podcast now at


The performance review at the end of the episode was on Instant File Initialization.

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Cortana Intelligence Suite

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Instant File Initialization (IFI)

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One way to improve performance on SQL Server is with IFI or Instant File Initialization.

Normally files are zeroed out on a database growth during an AUTOGROW, RESTORE, CREATE DATABASE or ALTER DATABASE. This is done by SQL Server when the file grows, it runs through that file and writes zeroes to the entire new allocation in the file. The zeroing process can take a great deal of time, the Instant file initialization process skips this zeroing, and just allocates the file. This works since SQL Server will just write each 8k page to disk as they are used, thus overwriting the uninitialized file.

Running some tests on a local virtual machine running SQL Server 2012 (similar results tested on SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2016), here is what I found.

  • Creating a new database (10GB file size) took 2 minutes and 6 seconds, with IFI enabled, it took just 4 seconds.
  • Autogrow of a data file witha 1GB growth size took 13 seconds without IFI, with IFI it took less than a second.


For IFI to work, the user account that SQL Server is running as needs the “Perform volume maintenance tasks” policy to be enabled. Read more ›

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Duplicate Indexes, What a Waste

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Today on the tuning minute on the SQL Data Partners Podcast, we discussed duplicate indexes, which lead me to think more about and and write this post.

You know there are many different ways of doing things in SQL Server, and often times you can argue that one way or the other is better, and given the right situation anything might be a good idea. However duplicate indexes are a different story.

When I talk about duplicate indexes, what I mean is 2 or more indexes on the same table that are exactly the same columns.  Something like this:

 [Lastname] ASC

CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX [dta123123123_LastName] ON [dbo].[Customer]
 [Lastname] ASC

Two indexes on exactly the same column. There is nothing to be gained here.

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SQL Server Performance Tuning

Need help with SQL Server Performance Tuning, contact Steve at Stedman Solutions, LLC for help, or take a look at the performance tuning page at the blog. We can help with tuning a single query or with figuring out why your SQL Server is running slow. Free 30 minute consultation.

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