Friday 14 April 2006

How to remove 'sa' account from 'sysadmin' fixed server role in SQL Server 2000

When it comes to securing the databases, we need to have a small number of accounts with 'sysadmin' fixed server role, which means that only the DBA and someone else should be assigned to that role inside the database engine. So, I highly recommend disabling or removing 'sa' account from 'sysadmin' fixed server role in SQL Server 2000. Nevertheless, this task is not so easy to do because any change on 'sa' account is protected internally by SQL Server. Furthermore, Microsoft says that this account cannot be changed at all
System administrator (sa) is a special login provided for backward compatibility. By default, it is assigned to the sysadmin fixed server role and cannot be changed. Although sa is a built-in administrator login, do not use it routinely. Instead, make system administrators members of the sysadmin fixed server role, and have them log on using their own logins. Use sa only when there is no other way to log in to an instance of Microsoft® SQL Server™ (for example, when other system administrators are unavailable or have forgotten their passwords).
Because I also know that "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.” (Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut), I was digging deep into this issue and found out that, fortunately, what Microsoft says is true up to a point, but we can take control of it by making small changes internally. In other words, the famous 'sa' account can be changed in SQL Server 2000. Today's post is going to show how to achieve it with ease. (The demonstration is done on SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3a.)

First of all, we do need to know that the logic to manage the 'sa' account is stored inside the 'master' system database of SQL Server. Consequently, I decided to look into the code of sp_dropsrvrolemember, sp_addsrvrolemember, and sp_droplogin system stored procedures. What I figured out is that all of them contain the following validation based on the name of the account to prevent from any change.

According to that code, only if we change that name will SQL Server allow us to make other changes on it. Likewise, I also noticed that SQL Server does not allow to delete this account if its SID is equal to '0x01', so, if I we also change that SID, we will be able to delete the account. This is what we are going to do now.

Naturally, we will get the following error when we try to remove the 'sa' account from 'sysadmin' fixed server role:

exec sp_dropsrvrolemember sa,‘sysadmin’ 

Server: Msg 15405, Level 11, State 1, Procedure sp_dropsrvrolemember, Line 40 
Cannot use the reserved user or role name ‘sa’.

Trying to drop the 'sa' account:

exec sp_droplogin sa

Server: Msg 15405, Level 11, State 1, Procedure sp_droplogin, Line 39
Cannot use the reserved user or role name ‘sa’.

In order to be able to make those changes, we firstly need to enable 'allow updates'.
exec sp_configure 'allow updates', 1  
reconfigure with override 

Having done that, we can remove the 'sa2' account from 'sysadmin' fixed server role.

exec sp_dropsrvrolemember sa2, 'sysadmin'

Changing the SID to '0x02':

 update sysxlogins set sid=0x02 where name='sa2' 

Finally, only now are we able to delete 'sa2' account.

exec sp_droplogin 'sa2' 

Having successfully executed each step, we have succeeded in deleting the 'sa' account. As you have seen, it was not overly complicated to get this account deleted. On the other hand, how can we create that account again? if we try to create again the 'sa' account, we will get this error:

exec sp_addlogin 'sa'

Server: Msg 15405, Level 11, State 1, Procedure sp_addlogin, Line 49
Cannot use the reserved user or role name ‘sa’.

Do not worry about that, we can also create it again by executing this code as follow:

exec sp_addlogin 'sa2'  
exec sp_addsrvrolemember sa2,'sysadmin'  
update sysxlogins set name='sa' where name='sa2'
update sysxlogins set sid=0x01 where name='sa' 

That is all for now. I hope you find this tip helpful. Let me know any remarks you may have. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.

Tuesday 14 March 2006

How to uninstall SQL Server 2005 instances successfully

With the passing of days, the number of people asking me how to uninstall SQL Server 2005 instances successfully is on increase. I would like to say that it is a simple question but quite difficult to answer as there are many related components installed which need to be uninstalled by following a correct order, otherwise, we are going to fail. Today's post is going to explain my own technique to do it with ease and success.

Here is the correct procedure to uninstall a SQL Server 2005 instance:

1. Firstly, we do have to find the right directory where 'ARPWrapper' tool is installed (usually it is inside of either 'C:\Program Files' or 'C:\Program Files (x86)' folders). After doing that, we can start the tool by executing one of the two following commands via CMD with '/remove' parameter included.

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Setup Bootstrap\ARPWrapper.exe" /Remove

"C:\Program Files (x86) \Microsoft SQL Server\90\Setup Bootstrap\ARPWrapper.exe" /Remove

Having done that, 'ARPWrapper.exe' will start and we will be able to choose the SQL Services we want to uninstall. The wizard shows two parts: the first one lists the server components and the second one the common components. Because we only want to uninstall all server components (Database Engine, Analysis Services, SSIS, and etc.), we will select the first one and then click on 'Next' and 'Finish'.

Naturally, if we wanted to uninstall the common components at the same time, we will have to check all of them in the same window:

Only after successfully completing the process will we be able to move on the next steps. (If we had Reporting Services installed, we would have to make sure that its virtual directories were deleted as well, otherwise, we do have to delete manually the directories ReportServer[$SQLInstanceName] and Reports[$SQLInstanceName] by using IIS Services Manager)

2. We are ready to move on. Going to 'Add or Remove Programs', we will uninstall some components following strictly this order: 
  • MSXML 4.0 Parser
  • Microsoft SQL Server VSS Writer
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Backward Compatibility Components
  • All components related to SQL Server 2005, except Microsoft SQL Server Native Client y Microsoft SQL Server Setup Support Files components
(It is time to move on the next step if this was the only SQL Instance that we wanted to remove, otherwise, we need to come back to the first step and do the same for each SQL Instance until removing all.)

3. Remove 'Microsoft SQL Server Native Client' component by using  'Add or Remove Programs'.
4. Remove 'Microsoft SQL Server Setup Support Files' component by using ''Add or Remove Programs'.
5. Finally, we have to restart the server.

To sum up, not only do we have SQL Server 2005 uninstalled successfully, but also very cleanly by following some simple and practical steps. Now this task is not going to be a pain in the neck any longer. 

I hope you find this post very useful and make the most out of it. That is all for now, let me know any remarks you may have uninstalling SQL Server 2005. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.

Sunday 5 February 2006

Improving the performance by using 'Boost SQL Server Priority' option

Boost SQL Server Priority is one of the many options that we can configure at SQL Server instance level in order to improve the performance of the database engine by changing its priority running on Microsoft Windows Server.

By default, the value of this option is 0 (zero) which says to Windows Server to execute SQL Server under normal priority either running on one processor or symmetric multiprocessor environment. On the other hand, if we configure this value to 1, SQL Server will be executed with a major priority which might improve the performance of a database server. This option works very well on servers which are only dedicated to SQL Server. In contrast, it is not highly recommended using it when there are more applications running on the same server.

'Boost SQL Server Priority' option can be configured via either SQL Management Studio or T-SQL. In this post we are going to see how to configure it via the second way. Because this option is an Advanced Option, we firstly need to enable the possibility of accessing to it, which means that we have to enable 'show advanced options' option:
sys.sp_configure 'show advanced options', 1
Shortly after that, we must confirm the change without restating the database engine:
Having done that, we move on configuring 'Boost SQL Server Priority'.
EXEC sys.sp_configure N'priority boost', N'1'
Now we need to commit and override the change.
That is all we need to do in order to enable this option. It couldn't have been simpler.
To sum up, at this point I need to ask you to work with a lot of cautiousness as this configuration might impact on the whole database engine performance. If there were many SQL Server database engines running on the same server and this option was enabled only for some of them, the rest of them might be impacted detrimentally. Nevertheless, I personally do not recommend enabling it on machines running on only one processor or many database engines (or other applications). Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.

Tuesday 10 January 2006

Exploring ROW_NUMBER function in SQL Server 2005

Some of the SQL Server 2005 new features are the Ranking functions which are used to analyse data. Among these functions we have, for instance, ROW_NUMBER which helps to enumerate every row of a result set in a simpler way. Before showing the illustration of it, I will share the syntax:

ROW_NUMBER ( ) OVER ( [ partition_by_clause ] order_by_clause )
  • partition_by_clause: Divide the result set generated by FROM clause into partitions on which ROW_NUMBER will work.
  • order_by_clause: Determine the order for ROW_NUMBER.
Now the illustration: we are going to enumerate the details of the sales based on the price.

SaleOrderID, ProductID, Quantity,UnitPrice 
FROM OrderDetail 

Item    SaleOrderID     ProductID   Quantity    UnitPrice
----    ------------    ---------   --------    -----------
1        00000015       FX8S           1        7621.71
2        00000016       FX8E           1        3601.77
3        00000016       FX5P           1        2207.87
4        00000014       FX5G           1        6507.82
5        00000018       FX21           1        631.62
6        00000019       FX19           1        751.62

Another example of it would be using PARTITION clause for partitions result sets by ProductGroupID and then ROW_NUMBER will be applied based on ProductStock. Therefore, we are writing a query like this:

ProductID, ProductDesc, ProductGroupID, ProductStock 
FROM Products

Item  ProductID    ProductDesc                       ProductGroupID    ProductStock
----  ---------    ------------------------------    --------------    -----------
1     DS02         MAINBOARD 845 PEMYL               G003               -1
2     DS06         MAINBOARD 850 EV2                 G003               10
1     DS07         TECLADO 104 MULTIMEDIA32          G004               20
1     DS12         SWITCH 5 PORT 10/100, 220V        G006               26
1     DS45         MUEBLE DE OFICINA                 G007               34
1     DS76         DISCO DURO                        G008               20
1     DS07         IMPRESORA LASER                   G009               10
1     DS45         MEMORIA STICK                     G010               2
2     DS29         MEMORIA VIDEO                     G010               5
1     DS08         TINTA CANON BCI24 NEGRO           G011               12
1     DS41         WEB CAM ALTIOR MODELO B02         G012               0
1     DS74         MONITOR DE 15                     G016               6
1     DS83         IMPRESORA MATRICIAL DFX5001       G018               12
2     DS84         IMPRESORA MATRICIAL DFX8502       G018               17
3     DS21         IMPRESORA MATRICIAL FX21944       G018               48

(15 row(s) affected)
As I mentioned before, this functionality is helpful, simple and easy to use it, so it does not worth a major explanation. That is all for now. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.

Wednesday 7 December 2005

The power of PIVOT in SQL Server 2005

With the arrival of SQL Server 2005, we have many new features available to make the most out of it. Today's post is going to be about one of the greatest new functionalities, that is, the powerful PIVOT sentence which can be used for converting rows into columns (and vice versa) in order to have a vision much more structured and meaningful of the data result sets.

So, moving on the example, we are going to use some tables of the 'Northwind' database like 'Orders', 'Orders Details', 'Employees', and 'Products'. The objective is to show the total value sold by each employee for the following products: 'Alice Mutton', 'Filo Mix', 'Flotemysost', 'Geitost', 'Konbu', 'Maxilaku', 'Pavlova', 'Tofu', and  'Vegie-spread'. Well, in SQL Server 2000, it can be done by using INNER JOINs and 3 Subqueries (if you had more tables to query, it would become a complex work to do). As a result of this, not only does the query become complex, but also it is not the most optimum choice.

SELECT Ventas1.*
FROM (SELECT Empleado, 
        (SELECT Products.ProductName FROM Products    
          WHERE Products.Productid=Ventas.ProductID) Producto, 
                SUM (ventas.ValorVendido)Total
      FROM (SELECT (C.lastname + ‘ ‘ + c.firstname)Empleado,ProductId,
                 (OD.Unitprice*OD.Quantity) [ValorVendido]
            FROM [Order Details] OD
             INNER JOIN ( [Orders] O        
              INNER JOIN Employees C
            ON O.Employeeid=C.Employeeid)
             ON OD.Orderid=O.OrderID) Ventas
GROUP BY Empleado, Productid) Ventas1
WHERE Producto IN(‘Alice Mutton’,‘Filo Mix’,‘Flotemysost’,‘Geitost’,

Here we can see the partial result:

Having seen how difficult some queries can become by using old-fashioned and traditional techniques, now we are going rewrite the query to use PIVOT. Here is the code:

SELECT Empleado, [Alice Mutton],[Filo Mix],[Flotemysost],
      [Geitost],[Konbu], [Maxilaku],[Pavlova],[Tofu],[Vegie-spread]
FROM (SELECT Empleado, 
             (SELECT PRoducts.Productname FROM Products
             WHERE Products.Productid=Ventas.Productid) Producto,
                 SUM (ventas.ValorVendido) Total
      FROM (SELECT (C.lastname+ ‘ ‘ + C.firstname) Empleado, ProductID, 
               (OD.Unitprice*OD.Quantity) [ValorVendido]
            FROM [Order Details]OD
                INNER JOIN ([Orders] O
                INNER JOIN Employees C
             ON O.EmployeeID=C.EmployeeID
ON OD.OrderID=O.OrderID) Ventas

GROUP BY Empleado,Productid) ventas1
PIVOT(SUM(total) FOR [Producto] IN ([Alice Mutton],[Filo Mix],[Flotemysost],
[Geitost],[Konbu],[Maxilaku],[Pavlova],[Tofu],[Vegie-spread])) AS pvt

Only after successfully familiarising with PIVOT will we realise how easy and practical is use it so as to save not only time but also costs. More details about it can be found by checking the following resource

That is all for now until next post. Let me know any remarks and experience you have may using PIVOT. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.

Monday 21 November 2005

How to connect to SQL Server 2005 much faster via SQL Management Studio

While connecting with SQL Server 2005, we have to deal with the 'splash' screen and then indicate, basically, the following information such as service type, server name, and authentication type. This process may sometimes slow us down, nevertheless, we can optimise it as long as we know where we want to establish a connection. Put differently, we can save some time by using 'sqlwb.exe' tool which allows to start SQL Management Studio rapidly. This tool has some parameters we can use them to speed up the logon process to SQL instances. Here I am coming up with an illustration how to use 'sqlwb.exe' with some basic parameters. For instance,  if we would like to connect to the 'TestDB' database on 'SVPRDB1' server and with Windows Authentication, it can be done in this way:

sqlwb.exe -E -S SVPRDB1 -d TestDB -nosplash

Only after successfully executing that will we connect directly to 'TestDB' database without specifying manually the parameters and also without seeing 'the splash' screen showing the presentation of SQL Management Studio version. Now we can also customise the shortcut as it is shown in the following picture:

As earlier I said, this is the fastest way to connect to SQL Server which will allow to save some seconds. It couldn't have been simpler. That is all for now. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.
HELLO, I'M PERCY REYES! — a book lover, healthy lifestyle lover... I've been working as a senior SQL Server Database Administrator (DBA) for over 20 years; I'm a three-time awarded Microsoft Data Platform MVP. I'm currently doing a PhD in Computer Science (cryptography) at Loughborough University, England — working on cryptographic Boolean functions, algorithmic cryptanalysis, number theory, and other algebraic aspects of cryptography. READ MORE