I’m Presenting at the Compañero Conference In October

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I am excited to announce that I will be speaking at (and helping organize) the SQL Conference called Companero Conference in Norfolk VA on October 4th and 5th 2017.

SQL Conference

 

SQL Server Conference for the Accidental, Lone or New DBA

The Compañero Conference is a two-day DBA centered conference bringing together an amazing network of professionals to help you get actionable information and have fun all at the same time.  As you know from our podcast, we love to mix our desire to learn more about SQL Server with a few laughs and make new friends at the same time.  We want to bring this idea to the conference and we hope you will join us.

While we can all learn something, this conference is geared towards DBAs that alone in their organizations, accidently came upon taking care of a database or have responsibilities beyond SQL Server.  While there will be plenty of SQL Server, we want to include other topics you will need to help you be as successful as possible.

Over the next week or two we will be announcing other presenters for the conference. It looks like it is going to be a great conference.

I hope to see you there.

-Steve Stedman

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Podcast Episode 91: DBA Tools – Listen and find out what you are missing.

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Today Episode 91 released and it is our pleasure to present this episode on DBA Tools.  DBA Tools is an open source project (http://DBATools.io) that provides a number of powershell scripts to better help the DBA perform common SQL Server tasks. This was a fun episode with the panel of Chrissy, Rob, Constantine, and Aaron who were super excited to talk with us and we loved their energy.

DBA Tools

We all want an easy button.  It is human nature.  We heard quite a bit about how easy PowerShell will make everything, but for those of us who aren’t programmers, it can be a bit intimidating to get started.  The PowerSHell tools from dbatools.io are shaping up to be the closest thing to an easy button for DBAs.  On this episode we invited some of the team to chat with us about their tool, how they got started and the types of problems they are looking to solve.

Episode Quotes

“The features that are now inside of DBA tools, honestly, I would describe them as really awesome.” – Constantine
“I promised you this is the best code ever used and that you will ever have.” – Aaron
“It is important to us that people do feel welcomed and that their codes gets merged in.” – Chrissy

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My CheckDB Script

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From time to time I get asked about checkDB, and there are many solutions out there, but I have one that I generally use that is very simple and does the job.

The script below created a stored procedure in the DBHealthHistory database that can be used to check as many databases as you can get through in a specific time interval. Here it is set to 5 minutes, but that usually gets extended for large databases.  If you set the job to daily, and the job doesn’t get through checking all the databases today, it will pick up where it left off and check the rest tomorrow.

 

Depending on the number and size of your databases you may want to run this more than once a day, or for a longer period than the 5 minutes.

Note: the 5 minute limitation is checked before starting the next check, so if you have a database that takes hours to check, that will kick off in the 5 minute interval and run until completion.

 

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Podcast Episode 90: DBCC CheckDB

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This weeks episode of the SQL Data Partners Podcast is Episode 90 released today.

 Episode Quote

“I would say that the bigger issue is probably going to be something like snapshot space for your disk”

“When the rubber hits the road I’m still running CheckDB and CheckTable but it’s all about the process behind it”

 Overview

DBCC CheckDB.  It is a simple command, but one that can cause database contention, dba stress, confusing results, dba elation, and everything in between.  At one time we will all have to face the results of having a corruption issue and we’re delighted to have Sean McCown with us again to discuss the ins and outs of the issues of this command.

We talk with Sean about how frequent issues we have with maintenance like we often we should run CheckDB on our databases or what happens when I can only check one database during my window. While we don’t end up discussing the command as much, we definitely review all aspects of making sure it can run in ALL environments.

Listen to Learn

  • Pros and cons of DBCC CheckDB
  • Scenarios to do CheckDB on databases
  • Issues with CheckDB
  • Running CheckTable
  • Minion Tools

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Finding Blocking Queries

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One of the common problems with when diagnosing what appears to be a slow scenario where there may be blocking involved is determining what is blocking on SQL Server.

Here is a query that I like to use.

SELECT * 
INTO #runningQueries
 FROM master..sysprocesses WITH (NOLOCK);


;WITH BlockingCTE as
(
 SELECT q1.blocked as spid
 FROM #runningQueries q1
 WHERE q1.blocked != 0 
 AND q1.blocked not in (SELECT spid FROM #runningQueries q2 WHERE q2.blocked != 0)
)
, recursiveBlocking AS
(
 SELECT b.spid, cast(0 as SMALLINT) as blocked, 
 cast(b.spid as varchar(1000)) as treePath, 0 as level,
 sp1.sql_handle, b.spid as topBlock
 FROM BlockingCTE b
 INNER JOIN #runningQueries sp1 on sp1.spid = b.spid 

 UNION ALL

 SELECT sp.spid, rb.spid as blocked, 
 cast(rb.treePath + '->' + cast(sp.spid as varchar(1000)) as VARCHAR(1000)) as treePath, 
 level + 1 as level, sp.sql_handle, topBlock
 FROM #runningQueries sp 
 INNER JOIN recursiveBlocking as rb ON rb.spid = sp.blocked
)
, topBlockCount AS
(
 SELECT *, count(1) over(partition by topBlock) as NumBlocked 
 FROM recursiveBlocking
)
SELECT DISTINCT 
 tb.SPID,
 tb.blocked,
 tb.treePath as blockingChain,
 tb.level,
 tb.topBlock,
 tb.NumBlocked, 
 LTRIM(REPLACE(REPLACE(st.text, char(10), ' '), char(13), ' ')) as theQuery
 FROM topBlockCount tb
 CROSS APPLY sys.dm_exec_sql_text(tb.sql_handle) AS st
 ORDER BY NumBlocked DESC, treePath
 OPTION (RECOMPILE);


DROP TABLE #runningQueries;

If there is no blocking occurring then this query will return nothing.

 

This script works on SQL Server 2008, 2008R2, 2012, 2014, and 2016.

 

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February 2017 Release of Database Health Monitor

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Today I had the opportunity to complete and launch the February 2017 version of Database Health Monitor.

I hope you like the latest version. Here are the Release Notes:

Version 2.5 Release Notes – February 2017.

Version 2.5 is the February 2017 release of Database Health Monitor, released on February 19, 2017.

What People Are Saying About Database Health Monitor

  • Outstanding app. Already referred it to several friends in the field. Well I do have to say the changes you have made (regarding version 2.5), seems to have made everything in the interface much snappier. Your work here is quite impressive. (Frank from Texas)
  • Outstanding! Besides enjoying the layout of your app, one thing I really like about the Quick Scan Report is each entry has a corresponding link that discusses the finding so I can go back and review recommendations, cautions, etc. (Michael)

New Features in 2.5

  • Upgraded application to use the .Net 4.5 runtime.
  • Fragmented Indexes Advisor – added buttons to rebuild or reorganize all fragmented indexes. Wow this will save some time when you have a bunch of indexes to defragment.
  • Added historic monitoring for disk space. Still need to add reports, but the tracking is there.
  • Added a menu to the main application window. Removed the big buttons for Connect, Settings, and About, and replaced them with menu items.
  • Added a menu item to link to the feedback survey.
  • Rearranged some of the columns on the What is Active report to make it easier to see what is running right away without scrolling.

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SQL Compañero

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If you have listened to the SQL Data Partners Podcast where Carlos Chacon and I are the co-hosts of the show, you have probably heard us use the term SQL compañero. In case you are wondering where the term comes from and why we use it, Carlos has put together a short video explaining the SQL compañero term.

And if you haven’t listened to our latest podcast on indexing, you might want to check it out. The latest is part 2 in a 2 episode series on Indexing on SQL Server – Indexing Podcast (Part 1, Part 2).

I hope to see you on the SQL Trail.

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Pre-con at SQL Saturday Richmond in March – Emergency Preparation for Database Disasters

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On March 18th I will be attending SQL Saturday 610 in Richmond Virginia and the day before I will be presenting a pre conference session covering half a day on Database Corruption and half a day on Disaster Recovery Planning. This event has just been announced, and you can sign up for the pre-con session now. I will be presenting with my business partner and podcast co-host Carlos Chacon.

Emergency Preparation for Database Disasters

First half of the day on Database Corruption Preparation:
We will walk through several 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.

Second half of the day on Disaster Recovery Planning:
How likely are disaster events to occur? How aware are you of the other risks you face? How prepared are you in the event that a disaster occurs?
In this session we will explore steps that go into building a solid disaster recovery plan, along with building a disaster recovery team to back up the plan.

 

When I have presented at PASS Summit and SQL Server users groups, I have often times received the feedback that I should expand my database corruption presentation into a pre-con session. Well here it is, a chance to go into much deeper detail that I have been able to do in previous sessions. I will present on several of the things that I have learned throughout my career, and with the database corruption challenge from 2015. The way to prepare for corruption is to practice finding and fixing corruption so that you will be ready when corruption strikes your environment.

 

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Podcast Episode – The Long Awaited Index Episode

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For a couple of months we have had requests on the SQL Data Partners Podcast to do an episode on indexing. It is my pleasure to announce that the Indexing episode (episode 81) was released today, well at lease half of it. After we finished the recording, we realized that there was too much content to fit it in to our normal episode length, so we split it into a Part 1 and Part 2 episode. Part 1 launched this week, and Part 2 will come out next week.

The guest this week was Randolph West (Twitter: @BornSql) a SQL Consultant at BornSQL, where we does performance tuning optimization, works with best practices for DR and SQL Server maintenance. Randolph has also recently become a Microsoft MVP. Between Randolph, Carlos and I we were able to cover an extensive amount of detail on indexing.

In Part 1 we covered:

Using the phone book as an example, we chat with our guest Randolph West and explain heaps, non-clustered indexes, and clustered indexes. We also explain best practices to use them when creating new tables. We also cover the issues with using wide data types in your clustered indexes, along with the drawbacks of GUIDs (UniqueIdentifiers) as a clustered index.

We didn’t forget to cover the problems you might run into. For example, you might not think about indexes until your data grows very large. Sure, you can attempt to resolve the problem by moving to SSD’s and increasing memory, but this will push the issue further in the future. In this episode, we will discuss considerations for indexes and why database architecture is so important.
We would like to hear your opinions. What are your strategies when using indexes? Use the hashtag #sqlpodcast and let us know!

We had a lot of fun with this episode. I hope you enjoy it.

Episode Quote

“The magic word you use there was fragmentation. This used to be a huge problem as Steve mentioned with spinning drives. While I disagree with the fact that I’m not worrying about fill factor at all is ok.  I disagree, you should worry about fragmentation. You should worry about these things purely from the point of views of knowing that your database isn’t in a good condition is well maintained.“

Listen to Learn

  • Heaps and indexes types explained
  • Randolph’s thoughts on clustered indexes vs. non-clustered indexes
  • Similarity between clustered indexes and primary keys
  • The results of using Management Studio Designer for creating new tables
  • How to create covering indexes
  • The negatives of having too many indexes and what you can do about it
  • How are default fill factors affecting indexes? Is faster storage good reason to avoid fixing the indexes?

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Azure PDW What is Active

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Lately I have had the opportunity to work with performance tuning of queries running on the Azure Parallel Data Warehouse (Azure PDW). This has been interesting in that everything you thought you knew about SQL Server DMV’s, writing queries and overall performance tuning is just a little bit different.

My goal was to write a query to show me what is currently active and running on the Azure PDW database.

To start with, I discovered the view called SYS.DM_PDW_EXEC_REQUESTS which contains all kinds of great information to get us started. Specifically it hold information on queries that are currently running or have recently been run or attempted to be run on the Azure PDW database.

SELECT *
FROM SYS.DM_PDW_EXEC_REQUESTS;

Which returned hundreds of rows, and didn’t really get me to where I wanted to go.
Next I added a WHERE statement to filter out those queries that were “done”. In this case done means that were ‘Completed’, ‘Failed’ or ‘Cancelled’.

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