Saturday 11 November 2017

How to migrate SQL Server aliases easily

Definitely, in my daily DBA life many times I had to complete the migration of hundreds of SQL Server aliases without wasting much time. The DBAs always have the need of carrying out administrative tasks quickly and easily, and in this sense today I am going to share with you a technique of how to migrate SQL Server aliases.
To begin with, think of having three aliases in the database server. You can see them using SQL Server Manager Configuration tool.

The technique is to use Export/Import option of the system registry. Be cautious and do not try to modify other things. All the keys of the SQL Server aliases can be found for a x64 system in the following path:


And whether you have SQL Server 32-bit on x64 then the keys are found here:


Now, once the path was found we need to navigate to it and right click on it to select Export option to export the branch of aliases to a regedit file (.reg). Finally, copy the file to the new server and then using File->Import option you can import them into the registry of the new database server. That is all for now. Let me know any remarks you may have.

Friday 3 November 2017

AUTO_CLOSE database option and its impact on the performance

The AUTO_CLOSE database option is only one of the many options related to performance and availability of the database in SQL Server.  When AUTO_CLOSE is set to ON for a database, SQL Server closes all its files and releases the resources used for it shortly after the last connection is closed. This action will reduce the usage of memory, nevertheless, it is barely insignificant (12KB or 20KB). Furthermore, having this option turned on, the first connection will have to open the database again, as a result, it will experience a delay. I highly recommend having disabled this option all the time. Here is the code to turn this option off:

This option is turned off by default, but I have found many databases with this option turned on which also impacts on it performance. The other disadvantage of having enabled it is that when the last established connection to the database is closed, its files are accessible to be manipulated directly via Windows by some user, which means that someone is completely able to delete them while the database engine is running. So, we need to work with lots of cautiousness when it comes to changing not only this database option but also others.

That is all for now, let me know any remarks you may have. Thanks for reading again. Stay tuned.

Monday 16 October 2017

Getting information about referenced and referencing tables

At times we do need to carry out some tasks related to figure out certain information about references among some database objects. Today's post is going to show an example for tables by using T-SQL. There are two SQL Server system views we will use to query that information, they are 'sys.objects' and 'sys.sysreferences'. The view 'sys.objects' contains information for each database object (DDL and DML triggers) created inside of a particular user schema, and sys.sysreferences has the following important columns which will give us the object id of the referenced and referencing object.
  • rkeyid: Contains the ID of the object which is being referenced.
  • fkeyid: Contains the ID of the object which is referencing.  
For instance, now we are going to figure out which tables are being referenced from the 'Product' table inside the 'AdventureWorks' database:

SELECT S.[name] AS 'Referenced Table'
FROM sys.objects S INNER JOIN sys.sysreferences R 
   ON S.OBJECT_ID = R.rkeyid
WHERE S.[type] = 'U' AND R.fkeyid = OBJECT_ID('[Production].[Product]')

Having done that, we can also figure out which tables are referencing to the 'Product' table. 

SELECT S.[name] AS 'Referencing Table'
FROM sys.objects S INNER JOIN sys.sysreferences R 
   ON S.OBJECT_ID = R.fkeyid
WHERE S.[type] = 'U' AND R.fkeyid = OBJECT_ID('[Production].[Product]')

As I said earlier, not only can we use those views for tables, but also for other objects like functions, stored procedures, views, etc. I hope you can make the most out of this tip. Let me know any remarks you may have. Stay tuned.

Friday 13 October 2017

Purging old backup files by using forfiles windows tool

It is well know that most backup strategies include a step to purge backup files to keep the most recent backups in the database server so that the disk space can be used properly. It is of paramount importance to schedule this task inside a SQL job in order to avoid running out of space. Today I am going to share a script to do that that uses forfiles windows tool via cmdshell. This script is within a stored procedure which has some input paramaters such as the database name, backup type, drive, and retention days.

USE [master] 
CREATE PROCEDURE [dbo].[sp_DBA_Backup_FilesCleanup] (
@DatabaseName VARCHAR(200),
@BackupType VARCHAR(100),
@DriveName VARCHAR(1), 
@RetentionDays VARCHAR(4))

    DECLARE @strcmd VARCHAR(4000)
    DECLARE @directory VARCHAR(4000)
    SET @directory=@DriveName + ':\SQLBackup\' + @DatabaseName --+ '\'  + @BackupType 
    SET @strcmd='forfiles /p "'+@directory+'" /s /d -'+ @RetentionDays +' /c "cmd /c del /q @path"'
      -- print @strcmd
    EXEC master.dbo.xp_cmdshell   @strcmd 

The logic deletes old backups files located on a path with this pattern '<Drive>:\<BackupDirectory>\<DatabaseName>\<BackupType>'. For instance, if we want to delete Full + Diff + Log Backup Files of the database 'MyDB' older than one week and supposing that those backups files are located on the drive 'G' then the full path would be 'G:\SQLBackup\MyDB\Full' for Full Backups, 'G:\SQLBackup\MyDB\Diff' for Differential Backups, and 'G:\SQLBackup\MyDB\Log' for Log Backups. So, using the following stored procedure and according to the example above, we should execute it with the following parameters:

USE [master] 
EXEC dbo.sp_DBA_Backup_FilesCleanup  @DatabaseName='MyDB' , @BackupType='FULL',@DriveName='G', @RetentionDays='7'
EXEC dbo.sp_DBA_Backup_FilesCleanup  @DatabaseName='MyDB' , @BackupType='Diff',@DriveName='G', @RetentionDays='7'
EXEC dbo.sp_DBA_Backup_FilesCleanup  @DatabaseName='MyDB' , @BackupType='Log',@DriveName='G', @RetentionDays='7'

That is all for now. Let me know any remarks you may have. Stay tuned.

Monday 2 October 2017

Getting useful information of data & log files for all databases

It is a common DBA task to check the unused space of all database files in order to make the decision of extending the file sizes and provide them with more disk hard space in the likely event of running out of it. Today I have two scripts I would like to share with you to get that info easily. The first one is to report some very important information about every data & log file for all databases such as name, file size in GB, space used in GB, free space in GB and percentage, growth settings in tandem with other information at database level such as collation, compatibility level, owner, and more. Here you are:

USE master
IF EXISTS (SELECT name FROM master.sys.tables WHERE name='TmpFileSpace')
    DROP TABLE TmpFileSpace

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[TmpFileSpace](
    [DatabaseName] [nvarchar](128) NULL,
    [FileName] [sysname] NOT NULL,
    [FileSizeGB] [decimal](10, 2) NULL,
    [SpaceUsedGB] [decimal](10, 1) NULL,
    [SpaceFreeGB] [decimal](10, 1) NULL,
    [SpaceFree%] [decimal](10, 1) NULL
EXEC sp_MSforeachdb '
USE [?]
INSERT INTO master.dbo.[TmpFileSpace]([DatabaseName], [FileName], [FileSizeGB], [SpaceUsedGB], [SpaceFreeGB], [SpaceFree%])
SELECT DB_NAME() DatabaseName, name FileName, 
CAST(size/128.0/1024.0 AS DECIMAL(10,2)) SizeGB, 
CAST(FILEPROPERTY(name,''SpaceUsed'') /128.0/1024.0  AS DECIMAL(10,1)) SpaceUsedGB, 
CAST((size - FILEPROPERTY(name,''SpaceUsed'')) /128.0/1024.0 AS DECIMAL(10,1)) SpaceFreeGB, 
CAST(((size - FILEPROPERTY(name,''SpaceUsed''))/(size*1.0)) *100 AS DECIMAL(10,1)) [SpaceFree%]
FROM sys.database_files'

SELECT DatabaseName,db.collation_name,db.compatibility_level, SUSER_SNAME(owner_sid) OwnerName,
db.page_verify_option_desc, db.is_auto_close_on, 
db.is_auto_create_stats_on,db.is_auto_shrink_on, db.is_auto_update_stats_on,
db.is_auto_update_stats_async_on, DatabaseName,  fs.FileName,
fs.FileSizeGB , fs.SpaceUsedGB, fs.SpaceFreeGB, fs.[SpaceFree%],
  physical_name, cast(size/128.0/1024.0 as decimal(10,2)) FileSizeGB,
FROM sys.master_files mf
INNER JOIN sys.databases db ON mf.database_id = db.database_id
INNER JOIN TmpFileSpace FS ON mf.database_id=db_id(Fs.DatabaseName) AND

DROP TABLE [TmpFileSpace]

But if you only want to get information about the size in GB, space used in GB, free space in GB of all data & log files for a specific database you can use this:

USE [YourDatabaseName]
SELECT DB_NAME() DatabaseName, name FileName, 
CAST(size/128.0/1024.0 AS DECIMAL(10,2)) SizeGB, 
CAST(FILEPROPERTY(name,'SpaceUsed') /128.0/1024.0  AS DECIMAL(10,1)) SpaceUsedGB, 
CAST((size - FILEPROPERTY(name,'SpaceUsed') ) /128.0/1024.0 AS DECIMAL(10,1)) SpaceFreeGB, 
CAST(((size - FILEPROPERTY(name,'SpaceUsed') )/(size*1.0)) *100 AS DECIMAL(10,1)) [SpaceFree%]
FROM SYS.database_files

That is all for now. Let me know any remarks you may have. 

Thursday 21 September 2017

Quickly find a cached execution plan of an Ad-Hoc query

It is clear that sometimes we just need to find a cached execution plan as quickly as possible so that it can be analysed and then use it to optimise the code in question. This work might be harder if the workload of a database server is based on ad-hoc queries because they do not reuse cached plan as good as stored procedures do especially if Ad-Hoc queries work with parameters, so in this context, we might find many cached plans for only one Ad-Hoc query and it will then make more difficult spot what we are looking for. It is of paramount importance to remember that optimisation and tuning is a never-ending task and it is worthy of our attention every so often. Today I am coming with the following script to help quickly find a cached plan execution plan for an ad-hoc query. This query filters out by the specific text you are looking for in the ad-query.

SELECT TOP 10 st.text AS [SQLText], cp.cacheobjtype CacheObjType, cp.objtype ObjType,
COALESCE(DB_NAME(st.dbid), DB_NAME(CAST(pa.value AS INT))+'*',
'Resource') AS [DatabaseName], cp.usecounts AS [PlanUsage], qp.query_plan
FROM sys.dm_exec_cached_plans cp
CROSS APPLY sys.dm_exec_sql_text(cp.plan_handle) st
CROSS APPLY sys.dm_exec_query_plan(cp.plan_handle) qp
OUTER APPLY sys.dm_exec_plan_attributes(cp.plan_handle) pa
WHERE pa.attribute = 'dbid'
AND st.text LIKE '%some text of the object or ad-hoc query%'

It well worth noting that this is why it is highly advisable using stored procedures so that CPU and memory resources can be used more efficiently. That is all for now, let me know any remarks you may have. Stay tuned.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Detecting poor cursor usage in SQL Server

Without a shadow of a doubt, poor cursor usage issue is an essential aspect to review so as to reduce the possibility of having CPU bottleneck issues, and determine whether cursors are the most appropriate means to accomplish the processing or whether a set-based operation is possible. It is well know that set-based operation is generally more efficient, but if you make the decision of using cursors, you should ensure that it does not represent an issue for the database in question. Thus, detecting poor cursor usage and taking certain measures to ease the problem is crucial, and in SQL Server there are some techniques available to be used to diagnose the issue. To begin with, by using performance counters we are able to analyse the issue and find out the extent to which poor cursor usage is adversely affecting on the performance of specific workloads or the whole database. For instance, here is the counter SQL Server: Cursor Manager By Type: Cursor Requests/Sec which retrieves information about the number of SQL cursor requests received by the server. On the top of that, it is possible to filter out by the cursor manager instance such as API Cursor (only the API cursor information), TSQL Global Cursor and TSQL Local Cursor. Have a look at SQL Server, Cursor Manager by Type Object to get more info about the counter.
On the other hand, using SQL Trace is also helpful, for example, use a trace that includes the RPC:Completed event class search for 'sp_cursorfetch' statements. The value of the fourth parameter is the number of rows returned by the fetch. It is worth noting that the maximum number of rows that are requested to be returned is specified as an input parameter in the corresponding RPC:Starting event class. Finally, by using the DMV 'sys.dm_exec_cursors' we can also determine whether poor cursor usage exists in the database server as Transact-SQL cursors always have a fetch buffer of 1 and for API cursors it should be higher.

select c.* 
from sys.dm_exec_sessions s
    cross apply sys.dm_exec_cursors(con.session_id) as c
where cur.fetch_buffer_size = 1 
    and LIKE 'API%'

Consequently, if it is seen that API Cursors have a fetch buffer size of 1 then consider enabling multiple active results (MARS) when connecting to SQL Server and consult the appropriate documentation for your specific API to determine how to specify a higher fetch buffer size for the cursor either ODBC (SQL_ATTR_ROW_ARRAY_SIZE) or OLE DB (IRowset::GetNextRows, IRowsetLocate::GetRowsAt). After that, we can retrieve more details about the session and connection of the users associated to the harmful cursors so as to decide what to do.

select s.session_id, cn.client_net_address, s.login_name, s.status,s.client_interface_name, s.program_name, 
       c.cursor_id,,, c.plan_generation_num, c.creation_time, c.is_open, c.fetch_status, 
       c.fetch_buffer_size, c.worker_time, c.reads, c.writes, c.dormant_duration
from sys.dm_exec_connections cn
inner join  sys.dm_exec_sessions s on cn.session_id = s.session_id
cross apply sys.dm_exec_cursors(s.session_id) as c
where c.fetch_buffer_size = 1 
     and LIKE 'API%'

That is all for now, thanks for reading. Let me know any remarks you may have. Stay tuned.

Thursday 7 September 2017

Getting information about memory used by SQL Server

Naturally, every DBA is asked to report information about the memory used by SQL Server. Common questions are related to memory reserved and memory used currently, and sometimes we might not know how to complete this task. How many times did we take a look at the Windows Manager Task to find out that info? Many of us might have ended up quite frustrated time and time again because it did not help much. Over time Microsoft decided to provide Administrators with more useful tools and released Resource Manager tool whereby useful memory information per process is available, nevertheless, whether we want to get that info from SQL Server it might be an uphill battle as it would need that we write certain complex code at windows level.  For the time being, thinking about this situation I made the snap decision of sharing with you some helpful scripts that will alleviate the pain.

In the likely event that you might need to get the total buffer pool memory used by all databases at SQL instance level, this script is for it.

SELECT cast( cast( COUNT(*) /128.0/1024.0 as decimal(10,2)) as varchar(10)) + 'GB'  AS TotalUsageBufferPool
FROM sys.dm_os_buffer_descriptors

And if you wanted to know the buffer pool memory used by each database, you can use this:

SELECT CASE database_id 
        WHEN 32767 THEN 'ResourceDb'  ELSE db_name(database_id)         END AS DatabaseName,
        cast( COUNT(*) /128.0 as decimal(10,2)) AS [BufferPool(MB)]
FROM sys.dm_os_buffer_descriptors
GROUP BY DB_NAME(database_id) ,database_id
ORDER BY [BufferPool(MB)] DESC

Finally, and more importantly, answering the question about the total memory used by the whole SQL instance:
-- SQL2012/2014/2016/2017
select cast(cast(physical_memory_kb /1024.0/1024.0  as decimal(10,2))  as varchar(10)) + 'GB' TotalPhysicalRAM, 
cast(cast(visible_target_kb /1024.0/1024.0  as decimal(10,2)) as varchar(10)) + 'GB' MaxRAM, -- max memory configure at sql server level
cast(cast(committed_target_kb /1024.0/1024.0  as decimal(10,2)) as  varchar(10)) + 'GB' ReservedRAM,  --memory reserved
cast(cast(committed_kb /1024.0/1024.0  as decimal(10,2)) as  varchar(10)) + 'GB' UsedRAM --memory used currently
FROM sys.dm_os_sys_info

-- for SQL2005/2008/2008R2
SELECT cast(cast(physical_memory_in_bytes /1024.0/1024.0  as decimal(10,2))  as varchar(10)) + 'GB' TotalPhysicalRAM, 
cast(cast(bpool_visible /128.0/1024.0  as decimal(10,2)) as varchar(10)) + 'GB' MaxRAM, -- max memory configure at sql server level
cast(cast(bpool_commit_target /128.0/1024.0  as decimal(10,2)) as  varchar(10)) + 'GB' ReservedRAM,  --memory reserved
cast(cast(bpool_committed /128.0/1024.0  as decimal(10,2)) as  varchar(10)) + 'GB' UsedRAM --memory used currently
FROM sys.dm_os_sys_info

That is all for now. I hope you find these scripts helpful. Let me know any remarks you may have.
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