SQL SERVER – Reclaiming Space and Performance: Database Backup History

SQL SERVER - Reclaiming Space and Performance: Database Backup History Reclaiming-Space-800x380 During a recent Comprehensive Database Performance Health Check, I encountered an intriguing situation where a client’s msdb database had ballooned in size. After a thorough investigation, it became apparent that the cause was an extensive history of backup operations that had accumulated over a long period. The client had neglected to clean up this history, leading to unnecessary bloat. In this blog post, I’ll share the interesting solution we implemented, which involved deleting backup history based on time and specific databases. Today we are going to discuss Reclaiming Space and Performance: Database Backup History.

Unveiling the Bloated Past

As I delved into the client’s database health check, I discovered that their msdb database had grown significantly due to the accumulation of backup history. It was crucial to tackle this issue head-on to regain valuable space and improve performance.

Two Paths to Clarity

To address the issue, we employed two distinct strategies. First, we opted to delete the entire backup history beyond a certain point—specifically, 90 days ago. This approach aimed to eliminate the oldest entries that were no longer essential for the client’s operations. By freeing up space from this bulk deletion, we set the stage for a more manageable backup history.

The second part of our solution involved selectively deleting backup history for specific non-essential databases. This approach ensured that we retained crucial backup records for vital databases while removing unnecessary entries for less critical ones. The script below demonstrates how we accomplished this:

USE msdb;  
EXEC sp_delete_backuphistory @oldest_date = '11/15/2022'; 
USE msdb;  
EXEC sp_delete_database_backuphistory @database_name = 'AdventureWorks';

The Impact on Tables

It’s important to understand which tables are affected by these operations. The stored procedures, sp_delete_backuphistory and sp_delete_database_backuphistory, modify the following tables:

  • backupfile
  • backupfilegroup
  • backupmediafamily
  • backupmediaset
  • backupset
  • restorefile
  • restorefilegroup
  • restorehistory

By cleaning up the backup and restore history stored within these tables, we were able to significantly reduce the size of the msdb database and optimize its performance.

Benefits of a Leaner Database

With the backup history appropriately pruned, the client’s msdb database experienced a remarkable transformation. The reduced size improved overall performance, ensuring faster backups and restores. Additionally, the streamlined backup history simplified navigation, making it easier for administrators to find relevant information promptly.

Maintenance Matters

This scenario highlights the importance of regular maintenance to prevent database bloat. By periodically cleaning up backup history, organizations can prevent unnecessary resource consumption and maintain a healthier database environment. Implementing scheduled cleanup tasks, along with the occasional selective deletion, ensures that the database remains optimized without compromising vital backup records.


In the world of database management, neglecting to clean up backup history can lead to bloated databases and suboptimal performance. By employing the powerful tools of sp_delete_backuphistory and sp_delete_database_backuphistory, administrators can take control of their backup history and reclaim valuable space. This process not only enhances performance but also improves efficiency and simplifies database management. Remember, a leaner database is a healthier database! I hope you enjoyed this blog post about Reclaiming Space and Performance: Database Backup History. Do subscribe to my youtube channel.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://www.SQLAuthority.com)

SQL Backup, SQL Server, System Database
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