SQL SERVER – Year 2014 Reflections by Tim Radney – Notes from the Field #060

[Notes from Pinal]: New Year’s Resolutions is a funny word. Everybody makes it on January 1st but breaks it in very few days. I used to make resolutions too, but for a while, I have stopped this practice. Tim Radney is my great friend and I asked him that what can replace resolutions for the new year. He immediately said – Reflections on Previous Years. I really like how promptly he answered me. If you think, it does make sense to look back and see how much we have accomplished in this one year. We can build the next year’s plan based on what we have done and what we should have done. I think it is a great way to start a new year. I requested him to if he can give any example of Reflections on Previous Years.

On this new year, I also would like to congratulate Tim for joining SQLskills and beginning a new chapter in his career. I will repeat one of the statements which I told my friend – Tim is not like my brother, he is my brother. 

timsqlskills SQL SERVER   Year 2014 Reflections by Tim Radney   Notes from the Field #060With the beginning of every year, many of us reflect back on the previous year and also while doing so set goals or resolutions for the upcoming New Year. I am hopeful that for all of you reading this that you get to reflect back to a prosperous year full of good health and knowledge gain.

With me being fairly active on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, each year I see resolutions people make for themselves ranging from getting in better health, writing a book, reading more books, blogging more, learning a new skill or finding a better job. Whatever goals or resolutions you may have for yourself, I recommend establishing smaller milestones to help you measure your success of reaching your goal. I have found success by treating these goals as a bunch of smaller task. That makes them much more manageable.

The year 2014 has been very good for me. I have made many new friends in the SQL community, I was awarded SQL Server MVP from Microsoft, released my third book, spoke at numerous SQL conferences including the PASS Summit, attended the Microsoft MVP Summit, was award D&B MVP, ran a half marathon, and decided to change employers for the first time in 17 years.

None of those things would have been possible without the SQL community and without setting goals for myself. I am one LUCKY guy, but at the same time I work hard and seize opportunities that are given to me. I have been lucky and blessed that others have invested their time into me. Others have seen things in me that they could train, encourage and mentor and have helped push me to be become stronger in my skill. I encourage you all to do the same for others.

Let 2015 be the year that you find a mentor of your own if you don’t have one, and start mentoring others if you aren’t already. We have a saying among the SQL speakers. If you want to learn something really well, get up to speak about it. That same can be said about helping others grow. If you want to really grow in your career, help others grow in theirs as well. The rewards are endless.

I don’t know what all 2015 will hold for me, but I will continue to study, read and learn as much as possible. As I learn new tips and tricks I will be blogging and tweeting to share my finds. I encourage you to do the same and help continue to make our SQL community great.

A special thank you to my very good friend Pinal Dave for helping to make 2014 a stellar year for me. I value our friendship a great deal and it was great to finally meet the rest of your family in Seattle.

If you want me to take a look at your server and its settings, or if your server is facing any issue we can Fix Your SQL Server.

Note: Tim has also written an excellent book on SQL Backup and Recovery, a must have for everyone.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Performance Tuning – Is It Really A Top Skills for a SQL Server Consultant? – Notes from the Field #059

[Note from Pinal]: This is a 59th episode of Notes from the Field series. I get over 100 emails everyday and out of 100 emails nearly 90 of them are really related to performance tuning. The emails I get is from various different IT professionals. There are quite a few application developers like (Dotnet, Java, PHP etc) who do application development everyday, but they are not always expert of SQL Server. When I read those emails I feel that the world indeed need plenty of SQL Server Performance Tuning consultants. I asked these questions to SQL Server Guru Brian Moran. He is a unique blend of person who knows the consultant’s business from technology and business perspective.

Today is Christmas Day and we have received a wonderful gift from Brian!

brianmoran SQL SERVER   Performance Tuning   Is It Really A Top Skills for a SQL Server Consultant?   Notes from the Field #059

In this episode of the Notes from the Field series database expert Brian Moran explains in very simple words the reality of the SQL Server Consultant world. Read the experience of Brian in his own words.

December and January are times of the year when many people reflect on personal and career goals. It would be silly and naïve for me to pretend that I know what’s best for your career so take this post with a grain of salt. Maybe you want to be a fireman or an astronaut? I don’t have many words of wisdom if that is your hope.

But, I do have a lot of knowledge for data professionals who aspire to be independent consultants.

I focus more on the business side of running my consulting business these days so I’m not as technical as I used to be. But I was a SQL MVP for many years and was a pretty good tuning architect. I’ve been on the PASS Board twice and have been involved in the SQL Server space for almost 25 years. Over the years I’ve been part of the leadership team that built two successful consulting companies and I’ve coached and mentored dozens of technologists over the past two decades as they got their start in consulting.

59th 1 SQL SERVER   Performance Tuning   Is It Really A Top Skills for a SQL Server Consultant?   Notes from the Field #059This post is for folks who love the engine side of being a database pro and want to be an independent consultant. I’m not talking to the BI folks or the other myriad of specialties that exist in #SQLFamily. But do you love the engine? I mean really love working with the core engine? Do you want to be a consultant one day?

World class and amazing performance tuning skills are consistently the on the short list of skills that I’ve seen successful independent SQL Server consultants have over the past 20 years. Are there other skills out there that allow a consultant to have a great career? Of course. You can do well with any specialty that is hard to master and that companies absolutely must have access to in order to be successful. HA/DR, consolidation, virtualization, security, and a wide variety of other topics come to mind. But here is one element of performance tuning that that tends to create opportunities for consultants to maximize their rates and have a successful career.

Top performance tuning consultants can have a pretty quick impact on a problem and companies often need access to the skill on short notice for critical needs. Sometimes tuners can solve a problem in minutes or hours. And long term performance tuning work is often measured in days or weeks rather than weeks or months that some other types of projects require.

Here is some basic math to think about. Let’s say you want to bill $250/hr. Is that expensive? Well, like any SQL question the answer is it depends. Let’s look at it this way.

  • Assume you can solve a critical problem for a customer in 20 hours. $250/hr for 20 hours is $5,000.
  • Imagine you are competing against someone who says they can solve the problem for $125/hr.
  • 50% less sounds like a big savings for the customer, right? But, it’s really only a net savings of $2,500.

Do you think many companies care about a difference of $2,500 when they desperately need to solve an urgent problem impacting critical business systems? Probably not. They probably care more about picking the person they believe is the best fit and most likely to solve the problem.

59th 2 SQL SERVER   Performance Tuning   Is It Really A Top Skills for a SQL Server Consultant?   Notes from the Field #059

But now let’s imagine that you are talking to a potential customer about a project that might take 6 months to solve working full time. That’s about 1000 billable hours. Let’s make the same assumptions that you are charging $250/hr and someone else is going to offer $125.hr. Now the 50% differential is rate yields a net savings of $125,000.

Will many companies care about saving $125,000 if they can? Yep. They sure do.

I find that many folks never fully think through this side of the consulting equation early in their career. IE, within reason companies, mostly don’t care about the rate for performance tuners as long as you are awesome and can get the job done. Don’t get me wrong. It’s quite possible to charge premium rates for long term projects and you can certainly be a successful consultant while, focusing on some other aspect of SQL Server. But almost 25 years in the business have taught me that loving performance tuning and wanting to be an independent consultant can be a match made in heaven.

If you want to get started with performance tuning and database security with the help of experts, read more over at Fix Your SQL Server.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Proving that the Source of the Problems aren’t Tied to the Database

I have always wondered how Sherlock Holmes cracked the toughest of mysteries every single time. This fascination always lead me to learn new techniques every single time. The backbone for every successful detective is to be logical in their approach while working on the case. While watching movies, I have always seen a twist in the plot always makes the movie interesting and we are glued to the seat. If there is no drama, high octane action, restrictions – the movie would be boring. These techniques apply to real life too.

Being an application developer can always be demanding. You never know what situations we will get pushed into the next day. Here is one such situation which was just like a detective work. Once I was called for performance tuning exercise of our application that was running healthy for more than a year. The distress call from the customer got me thinking. What could have gone wrong in the application? Why all of a sudden this is happening? Did we release any upgrade or update to the database in the recent past as release? None of these were making sense as I kept thinking about possible root cause analysis. As soon as I landed at the customer site, I starting my interrogation with the DBA.

Pinal: Hello Sir!

DBA: Hi Pinal. Nice to see you here. Thanks for making time.

Pinal: It is a pleasure. I am surprised I had to come in such a short notice. Something must be really wrong then.

DBA: Yes. Our application users are complaining of very bad performance of your application for the past 2 weeks.

Pinal: Was it running fine before that?

DBA: I think, it must have been. They haven’t complained about it for more than a year. This seems to be a recent phenomenon. I think the application data must have increased considerably for this behavior.

Pinal: Hmmm … How is it possible that the application data increased all of a sudden in the past 2 weeks?

DBA: I am not sure. You are the expert. I am just a DBA and not an application developer. Must be something in your code.

Pinal: Can I get a chance to see the server console once?

DBA: Well, you know we are very sensitive with data privacy. I can surely get you access to an SSMS console. That must not be a problem.

Pinal: I can’t see the server even once?

DBA: Wait, let me get you the network / systems admin for this. They must know a way out.

After sometime, I get a chance to meet the Systems admin and continue the conversation.

Pinal: Hi there!

Admin: Hi. How can I be of help?

Pinal: I was wondering, if I can get access to the SQL Server box for my application?

Admin: Well, it is against our policy to open up the server directly. But what do you want to do?

Pinal: Ok. I am not sure what is going wrong on your server. Our application was running fine till about 2 weeks back. And now users are complaining about slowness in performance. I wanted to know what has changed in this timeframe all of a sudden.

Admin: Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. We are in the process of doing server consolidation and are moving lot of our workloads from Physical to Virtual environment. And I know, we did move your database into a virtual environment.

Pinal: Cool. Are the configurations same as you moved these servers?

Admin: We made sure they are identical. So please don’t worry Pinal. It is something about your application code mostly.

Pinal: hmmm … Sure let me check. Thanks for your time.

I have always been a believer, accept but validate. There is nothing that can confirm your hypothesis but by doing the analysis all by yourself. So I bid a goodbye to Systems Admin and started my conversation with the DBA. I turned around and asked – “What do you use to monitor your SQL Server environments my friend?” He suggested the use of Spotlight on SQL Server for SQL Server. I felt so relieved that they had something.

Spotlight on SQL Server for SQL Server to the rescue

Having some monitoring tool is essential when working with SQL Server. Though there are a number of them, I had had my opportunity to look at Spotlight on SQL Server in detail in the past. It surely has come a long way and has nifty features that are worth a note.

In our conversation above, I was sure there was something fishy about the configuration the Systems Admin have given to SQL Server and I wanted to understand what are the complete Hardware Configuration for our database server.

The first report I pulled out as part of my diagnosis was “Hardware Configurations”. Voila, I had my answers right in front of my eyes and I was delighted my work was complete in less than 15 mins within the organization.

dell 15 12 1 SQL SERVER   Proving that the Source of the Problems aren’t Tied to the Database

In the previous configuration (physical configuration), they used an 8 Processor machine for the application’s database server. As part of the consolidation, the network team accidentally made it a single CPU machine and it deprived the application of essential CPU cycles. So in a single click I was able to get the answers. I didn’t look further because all the physical hardware configurations were in black-and-white in this dashboard for me.

In fact, if we use the SQL Server Management studio’s dashboard we can get limited information. But nothing as exhaustive as what I got to see as part of data collection on Spotlight on SQL Server. The Server Dashboard does have the “# of CPU’s” values embedded into the report.

dell 15 12 2 SQL SERVER   Proving that the Source of the Problems aren’t Tied to the Database


A lot of times we get misdirected with the problem in hand. These take us into a spin of wrong diagnosis. Don’t always work on the symptoms of the problem. Try to find out all the data points that lead to the problem and work your way out in solving the same. In our above example, the problem was never about performance of our applications. It was about wrong configuration and wrong migration done by the network team. It is essential we are aware of these pitfalls.

Try Spotlight on SQL Server free for 30 days!

Spotlight on SQL Server continues to break new ground when it comes to providing DBAs with the ultimate in flexibility to suit their specific needs. Building on the success of the Wait Stat analysis workflow, Spotlight on SQL Server version 11.0 now includes multi-dimensional workload analysis to provide maximum insight into performance issues, an enhanced mobile capability to remotely diagnose issues directly from mobile phones and the introduction of SNMP traps. A fresh new look provides simple to use, powerful visualization to effectively monitor the health of your SQL Server environment.

If you’re looking for additional help on how to optimize your SQL Servers, Visit Dell Software’s SQL Server Resource Center for video, guides and other useful content.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – How to use Procedure sp_user_counter1 to sp_user_counter10

helpkeyboard SQL SERVER   How to use Procedure sp user counter1 to sp user counter10There are many performance counters available in SQL Server which can be used to monitor various parameters of SQL Server engine. Have you ever been into a situation where you want to see value in performance counter for a query which you have returned? Imagine a situation where you want to look at fragmentation or numbers of rows in a table over a period of time. And you want to plot the values against standard performance counters available.

SQL Server had this feature from a long time. I noticed it recently while working with one of my friend. He was showing me the impact of a number of database vs the number of threads in the AlwaysOn availability group. He showed me graph and my first question was – how did you plot the number of databases with that counter? The answer was – using a user counter. I did further research and learned something new so sharing that with you in the form of this blog.

There are ten system procedures which are available in SQL Server, which allows user to set specific counter values. They are sp_user_counter1, sp_user_counter2… till sp_user_counter10. That’s why they are called user settable counters. Below is the screenshot of Performance Monitor. (Start > Run > PerfMon)

sp user counter1 SQL SERVER   How to use Procedure sp user counter1 to sp user counter10

These counters can be populated using stored procedures. Counter Object name and stored procedure names are same. This means the values for “User Counter 1” can using sp_user_counter1, values for “User counter 2” can using sp_user_counter2 and so on.

Here is a quick example to demonstrate the usage.
-- Drop database, if already present
FROM sys.databases
WHERE NAME = 'SQLAuthority'
-- Create New Database
-- Create Objects Needed for Demo
USE SQLAuthority
-- while loop to populate the data and populate the counter
@NumberOfRows INT=0,@NumberOfRows_2 INT=0
WHILE (@NumberOfRows<25)
TrackMe VALUES (1), (2), (3)
SELECT @NumberOfRows = COUNT(*) FROM TrackMe
EXECUTE sp_user_counter1 @NumberOfRows        -- 3, 6, 9, 12...
WAITFOR delay '00:00:02'
SELECT @NumberOfRows_2 = @NumberOfRows*2
EXECUTE sp_user_counter2 @NumberOfRows_2    -- 6, 12, 18, 24...
WAITFOR delay '00:00:02'
-- loop finished reset the counters
EXECUTE sp_user_counter1 0
EXECUTE sp_user_counter2 0

Here is the Performance counter graph where I have captured the counters.

sp user counter2 SQL SERVER   How to use Procedure sp user counter1 to sp user counter10

Let me explain little logic of the script. My script is plotting number of rows in the table as counter1 and double of that as counter2. There is a delay of 2 seconds added between each counter so that we can see steps. Once the number of rows in the table are around 50, I am ending the loop and resetting the values to zero. That’s when you are seeing a drop at the end.

If you look at the procedure, it is straight forward. Believe me, here is the code.

CREATE PROCEDURE sys.sp_user_counter1 @newvalue INT AS
setinstance ('SQLServer:User Settable', 'Query', 'User counter 1', @newvalue)

Which means, we can also call undocumented command DBCC SETINSTANCE directly to set value for the counters.

Can you think of more innovative use of drawing value in performance monitor?

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Performance Counter Missing: How to Get Them Back?

helptrumpet SQL SERVER   Performance Counter Missing: How to Get Them Back?Of the thousands of mails I receive every day about SQL Server problems, I was recently pinged by a friend who reported a weird problem. He started with a simple question. He said that he wants to monitor SQL Server Performance counters for complete day to send a report back to his manager.  That was a simple one and I asked to capture performance counter data of SQL Server using performance monitor tool (PerfMon.exe). I thought the solution was done and was about to close the chat window that I was questioned for the second time. This was tough one I thought – “I am not seeing any performance counter for my instance”.

I asked him to send a screenshot and instance details. Here is how his perfmon counters screen looks like. (Start > Run > Perfmon.exe) and then Right Click “Add Counters…”

lodctr 01 SQL SERVER   Performance Counter Missing: How to Get Them Back?

Since we are dealing with a default instance of SQL Server, we should see “SQL Server:Access Methods” as the first counters (they are alphabetical). This got me curious and I wanted to really understand why this could ever happen. I politely asked my friend if he was ready to do some sort of screen sharing at a later date.

I looked at the SQL Server ERRORLOG file first and there was nothing interesting under that. I asked to query sys.dm_os_performance_counters to check if we have counter values there. Here is the screenshot.

lodctr 02 SQL SERVER   Performance Counter Missing: How to Get Them Back?

We can see that counters are available in SQL Server Engine but not shown in performance monitor tool.

Asked to look into below key:


We were not seeing many registry keys as compared to my system.

lodctr 03 SQL SERVER   Performance Counter Missing: How to Get Them Back?

Knowing something has gone wrong terribly, the only option left at this point was to reload the counters. Here are the commands.

To unload counter

Default Instance: unlodctr MSSQLSERVER

Named Instance: unlodctr MSSQL$<InstanceName>

To load the counter we can look at the same key and look at the value of “PerfIniFile” which is “perf-MSSQLSERVERsqlctr. ini” in the above screenshot. The file is located under BINN folder. For my machine, it is “E:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL11.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Binn”

To load counter

Default Instance:

lodctr “E:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL11.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Binn\perf-MSSQLSERVERsqlctr.ini”

 lodctr 04 SQL SERVER   Performance Counter Missing: How to Get Them Back?

For named instance, we need to check the file and path and run below (my machine has named instance of SQL Server 2014 called SQL2014)

lodctr “E:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL12.SQL2014\MSSQL\Binn\perf-MSSQL$SQL2014sqlctr.ini”

lodctr 05 SQL SERVER   Performance Counter Missing: How to Get Them Back?

Once that is done, we should be able to see the counters (shown below)

lodctr 06 SQL SERVER   Performance Counter Missing: How to Get Them Back?

A big sigh of relief as this was a great learning and sharing time for me and I was able to help my friend. I am sure this was helpful to you too, if you ever encounter this situation. Do let me know.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Search Records with Single Quotes – SQL in Sixty Seconds #075

Earlier I wrote two blog posts about Search Records with Single Quotes in two parts. Refer the blog posts over here.

Though I had clarified that all the methods displayed in these two blog posts have the exact same performance, I kept on getting question on this subject, again and again! Well, as there are so many questions, I have decided to create a quick video which demonstrates that there is no performance difference among the four methods which I have displayed earlier.

Action Item

Here are the blog posts I have previously written. You can read it over here:

You can subscribe to my YouTube Channel for frequent updates.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Do You Know Your Data’s Classification? – Notes from the Field #050

[Notes from Pinal]: Data is a very simple word, yet it is very powerful. There is a famous saying – Know Your Data. I have quite often found that developers do not know their data, they are often confused with the same and not sure how to answer that. My friend Tim Radney is an amazing person who usually have answer to each of the questions which looks simple but are complicated in reality.

timradney SQL SERVER   Do You Know Your Data’s Classification?   Notes from the Field #050Linchpin People are database coaches and wellness experts for a data driven world. In this 50th episode of the Notes from the Fields series database expert Tim Radney (partner at Linchpin People) explains in a very simple word. Please follow Tim on his twitter handle at @tradney.

Do you know your data’s classification?

As data professionals, we have many responsibilities. We could be responsible for backing up and restoring data, writing reports, building queries, writing stored procedures, tuning workloads, or any vast number of responsibilities.

If you are in the business of granting access to the data either through reports/queries or provisioning login access, you should be aware of the type of data you are granting access to. Your company likely has policies in place that should guide how access to certain classifications of data should be handled.

Some of the more common types of data that your company would have stricter controls over would be related to PII, PCI, SOX, GLBA, or HIPPA. You should know what the guidelines are within your company for access to this data and help make sure that those standards are being upheld.

These data assets may require additional auditing on who has access to view, print, export, etc. When the data is viewed it may require water marks or headers/footers to be on any reports.

Your organization may require certain types of data, such as PCI to be audited on who is viewing certain elements of that data.

Worst, your organization may need to be doing these things but are not. If not, you should be asking why and helping to implement a data governance plan.

If you want me to take a look at your server and its settings, or if your server is facing any issue we can Fix Your SQL Server.

Note: Tim has also written an excellent book on SQL Backup and Recovery, a must have for everyone.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Row Offset in SQL Server For Different Version

A very common question is how to find row offset in SQL Server. Here are a few examples based on different version of SQL Server. I have included SQL Server 2000 event, though it is almost 15 years old product and I encounter is less and less every day on production server.

I have used database adventureworks for example.

USE AdventureWorks2014
-- SQL Server 2012/2014
DECLARE @RowsPerPage INT = 10, @PageNumber INT = 6
SELECT SalesOrderDetailID, SalesOrderID, ProductID
FROM Sales.SalesOrderDetail
ORDER BY SalesOrderDetailID
(@PageNumber-1)*@RowsPerPage ROWS
-- SQL Server 2008 / R2
-- SQL Server 2005
DECLARE @RowsPerPage INT = 10, @PageNumber INT = 6
SELECT SalesOrderDetailID, SalesOrderID, ProductID
SELECT SalesOrderDetailID, SalesOrderID, ProductID,
FROM Sales.SalesOrderDetail ) AS SOD
WHERE SOD.RowNum BETWEEN ((@PageNumber-1)*@RowsPerPage)+1
AND @RowsPerPage*(@PageNumber)
-- SQL Server 2000
@PageNumber INT
@RowsPerPage = 10
SET @PageNumber = 6
SELECT SalesOrderDetailID, SalesOrderID, ProductID
SELECT TOP (@RowsPerPage)
SalesOrderDetailID, SalesOrderID, ProductID
SELECT TOP ((@PageNumber)*@RowsPerPage)
SalesOrderDetailID, SalesOrderID, ProductID
FROM Sales.SalesOrderDetail
ORDER BY SalesOrderDetailID
ORDER BY SalesOrderDetailID DESC
ORDER BY SalesOrderDetailID ASC

The result of the above queries is identical to each other.

paginginversion SQL SERVER   Row Offset in SQL Server For Different Version

This blog post is based on an earlier blog post which had a few errors corrected in this blog.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Performance Dashboard – Historic Information

There are a lot of games that I play with my daughter in spare time. Some of them are for just for fun and a lot of them are fun filled with some learning. As she started to grow up, it was important for me to weave learning into her day-to-day activities. So as soon as she was born, one of the biggest decision I took was to travel and show her the various places in India and even abroad. The idea is to visit these places from fun point of view but also from an historic importance. Learning different cultures, people, places, food habits etc. she gets to learn a lot in that process. I personally feel it is up to each parent to find their own sweet spot of making learning fun for their kids while balancing all that they might do. It is a long process and a lot of planning goes behind making them realize what they see in the books is what they are visiting. I have huge admiration for the culture and history each country brings and we can always learn a lot from our ancestors.

Talking about history bring us to the next set of reports from Performance Dashboard. They are grouped inside the Historical Information and Miscellaneous Information. They are logically grouped based on Waits and Expensive queries. We are looking at expensive queries based on:

  1. CPU
  2. Logical Reads
  3. Logical Writes
  4. Duration
  5. Physical Reads
  6. CLR Time

Apart from this the historical information also gives the Waits and IO Statistics across each of the databases. We can find the same in image below.

dashboardhistory1 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

Historical Waits

This report has two sections and they are come from the same dataset. The top section is a bar-chart and the bottom is a details for the each.

dashboardhistory2 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

The dataset for this report comes from msdb database.

EXEC msdb.MS_PerfDashboard.usp_DmOsWaitStats

Executing this gives a table of all the Waits and the amount of waits on each of them. Since I started the server and executed this report, we can see it has been idle for a longer time which is quite possible. Having said that, in a busy systems these can be completely different.

I have blogged about the Wait Stats extensively over this blog as a 28 part series – if you are interested, feel free to read the same from SQL SERVER – 28 Links for Learning SQL Wait Stats from Beginning.

dashboardhistory3 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

Historical IO Report

This report is an aggregation of IO operations for each database since the server was started. Since this is IO, it compares relative to each database and compares them by Reads and writes. To get this information, the report makes a call to msdb database for the following SP.

EXEC msdb.MS_PerfDashboard.usp_DBFileIO

As we can see in the figure below, this is a great indicator in my server that the AdventureWorks2012 has taken maximum amount of Reads while my TempDB has suffered the maximum writes.

The patterns that emerge out of this tell me stories that we normally find it difficult to get. Based on this analysis we can assume that there are lot of reports or operations we are doing using AdventureWorks2012 and working them into Tempdb tables on our server. I am sure you will be able to analyze similarly on your installation box too.

dashboardhistory4 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

The second section of the report shows the details of Top 20 objects for each database based on IO. For simplicity sake I have expanded the AdventureWorks2012 database for reference here.

dashboardhistory5 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

Expensive Queries section

The next logical section we can see in the report are around expensive queries. They are the same data for each report but logically sorted based on CPU, IO, Reads, Writes etc. If we run profiler we can find the below query hitting our msdb database.

EXEC sp_executesql @stmt=N'exec msdb.MS_PerfDashboard.usp_QueryStatsTopN1 @OrderBy_Criteria',@params=N'@OrderBy_Criteria NVarChar(max)',@OrderBy_Criteria=N'CPU'

As mentioned above the same query gets fired with a different sort order. The top section shows a graphical bar chart of Top CPU consuming queries.

dashboardhistory6 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

And as usual the second section outlines the details. In each case we can see the details of CPU, IO, and Reads etc. are also shown. This is marked in figure below.

dashboardhistory7 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

On expanding each of the columns, we can also check the Total, Max, Min and Avg. for CPU, Duration, Physical Reads, and Logical Writes and so on.

dashboardhistory8 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

Miscellaneous Reports

This contains a bunch of reports that are like addendum to already available reports. The one that is additional and worth a mention are the XEvents Session report.

dashboardhistory9 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

XEvents are a deeper topic to understand. You can learn a primer from SQL SERVER – Introduction to Extended Events – Finding Long Running Queries. Fundamentally, the report shows the active running Xevents on the server at this moment of time. As you might have guessed by now, the report calls an SP from MSDB database to fillup the contents.

EXEC msdb.MS_PerfDashboard.usp_XEventSessions

End of the day these joining various DMVs to get the output. Like in this case the report uses sys.dm_xe_sessions, sys.dm_xe_session_targets and sys.dm_xe_session_event_actions to get values. As we have said a number of times before, the power of DMVs are always underestimated when working with SQL Server.

Another very important link is about Active Traces. To demonstrate the power of this report, I have started a profiler trace on SQL instance.  Trace ID 1 is the default trace which runs with every default installation of SQL Server and many standard reports are dependent on that.

Trace ID 2 in below report has some warning:

  • Rowset trace: client/GUI traces can negatively impact server performance.
  • This trace is configured to capture one or more frequently occurring events or events which typically produce a large amount of trace data; tracing these events may negatively impact system performance. The expensive events are highlighted in yellow in the table below.

dashboardhistory10 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

As we can see below that this report displays a warning for any trace that is configured to capture events which are frequently occurring or that typically produce a large amount of trace data.  It is advisable to avoid capturing these events unless strictly required to prevent potential performance problems on the system, generally on non-production server when you are troubleshooting some particular issue. If we click on (+) symbols, we can see events captured by trace and it would also highlight the expensive events.

dashboardhistory11 SQL SERVER   Performance Dashboard   Historic Information

Here is the list of events which are “expensive” and would be highlighted in Yellow automatically.

Showplan Text (Unencoded)
Showplan Text
Showplan All
Showplan Statistics Profile
Audit Statement Permission Event
Audit Schema Object Access Event
Showplan XML
Showplan XML Statistics Profile
Audit Database Object Access Event

Ideally, we should use server side traces. I have seen common misconception about client side and server side trace. People think that if they run profiler UI on server itself, it is called as server side trace which is WRONG. Trace using profiler.exe is called as Rowset-based trace or client side trace, which consumes more resources than tracing directly to a file.  I would recommend my readers to use a server side trace writing directly to a fast disk to minimize the performance impact.  We can use the Profiler user interface to configure the events and columns you want to capture and save that those setting to a script by choosing Export – Script Trace Definition under the File menu option.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Database Taking Long Time to Create – Notes from the Field #047

[Notes from Pinal]: There are few things which confuse us when we encounter first time, however, there are few concepts which confuses us even though we face them multiple times. One of the such subjects is database taking a long time to create. Think about it, if you see a database which takes long time to create, your natural reaction will be how long various operations will take with the same database. I asked him if he can write further on this topic and help people understand this complex subject in simple words.

timradney SQL SERVER   Database Taking Long Time to Create   Notes from the Field #047Linchpin People are database coaches and wellness experts for a data driven world. In this 26th episode of the Notes from the Fields series database expert Tim Radney (partner at Linchpin People) explains in a very simple word. Please follow Tim on his twitter handle at @tradney.

I recently came across a support question on a forum where the user was very concerned about the health of their environment because it was taking over 10 minutes to create a 150GB database. When I was reading the post from the user two things immediately came to mind. First was that they could be creating the data file on a slow IO subsystem and second that they probably do not have Instant File Initialization turned on.

When data and log files are created in SQL Server they are initialized to overwrite any existing data. This is done by filling the files with zeros. This is a process commonly referred to as zero’ing out the file.

In SQL Server there is a way to change a setting that allows for instant initialization of the data file. This process does have a security consideration that must be understood, however for most organizations it is not an issue. Basically by not writing over the free space with zeros it could potentially allow an unauthorized user to read any previous data written to the disk.

Instant file initialization is only available if the SQL Server (MSSQLSERVER) service account has been granted SE_MANAGE_VOLUME_NAME. Members of the Windows Administrator group have this right and can grant it to other users by adding them to the Perform Volume Maintenance Tasks security policy. For more information about assigning user rights, see the Windows documentation. (Reference)

In the case of the user on the forum, they were not using Instant File Initialization and decided to enable it. The user then created another database of the same size and it created in seconds versus the same operation before taking over 10 minutes.

I created a blog and video a couple of years ago walking through the process of enabling this feature. You can view it here.

If you want me to take a look at your server and its settings, or if your server is facing any issue we can Fix Your SQL Server.

Note: Tim has also written an excellent book on SQL Backup and Recovery, a must have for everyone.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)