SQL Server tools

I know of a DBA who will be starting a new job in the near future. He is making a list and checking it twice and reading SQLRockstars’s (Thomas Larock) ( twitter | blog ) Book for advice. Expanding on that note he is seeking thoughts and opinions from the community on tools of the DBA trade.

His anxiety levels are at boiling point and he is seeking ways to help reduce his stress. He has investigated the new environment seeking information on the tools used and how he might become familiar with ones being used. Come to find out, no tools are available for use. This is a known issue at the new job and they are seeking to improve the situation. He now has an opportunity to provide input on some the tools that will be investigated and potentially purchased.

  • Time frame is 4-6 weeks (maybe less).
  • Tools must have an evaluation copy for download.
  • Tools should allow for managing performance, availability, quality.
  • Tools must run on SQL Server 2000, 2005, 2008.

My friend thanks you all for any and all input. He can be reached through me via twitter, this blog, or directly via email.




  1. Here are a few of the tools I can’t live without:

    SQL Sentry Performance Advisor / Event Manager
    (There are similar tools from Quest, Confio, Idera, etc…)

    Red Gate SQL Compare, SQL Data Compare, and Multi Script

    Mladen Prajdic’s SSMS Tools Pack (free)

    For backup compression, we are on SQL Server 2008, but if you are on earlier versions and/or need features that only 3rd party tools provide, look into RedGate’s SQL Backup or Quest LiteSpeed.

    And of course a big ruler, to smack the wrists of folks who do things to your database that you didn’t want them to.

  2. I use SQL Sentry (www.sqlsentry.com) for a few things:

    1) To quickly see performance alerts/issues (Performance Advisor Tool)
    2) To view the status of all jobs, report server reports, maintenance plans (that I inherited 😉 ), etc. in the calendar view (Event Manager)
    3) To help prioritize which servers need my help the fastest (If the trending in the PA dashboard looks bad, or I see a lot of errors/TOP SQL/Blocking SQL in the calendar the instance gets prioritized)
    4.) I get lonely – I like the servers to talk to me and tell me how they are doing. If a job takes longer than it has every other execution or less time than normal there may be an issue and I want to know. I want to know (at first anyway) about everytime long blocks happen or queries over an hour. I want to know when a job fails. The tool does that.

    In fact even when consulting I’ll normally have the client install a trial to aid in collecting performance information and let me easily show them reports/dashboards of what I’m talking about.

    So this handles performance,availability and I think Quality though there may be other tools that handle that separately depending on what this friend means by quality.

    I think if you just download their trial you get it for 2 weeks and if you answer some questions you get it for 30 or 45 days and it allows you to monitor multiple instances. No restarts, agents, etc and the impact of the monitoring hasn’t ever hurt a monitored instance that I’ve used it with. One more reason I use the tools.

  3. I have to say, I focused on the monitoring/alerting.

    I completely agree with Aaron about the Red-Gate tools he mentioned. They also have full featured trials.

    I also would say for a new DBA look at tools like MAP to find your SQL instances (http://www.straightpathsql.com/archives/2009/02/what-sql-instances-are-installed-on-my-network explains how)

    Then once you find them get the proper version of the Microsoft SQL Server Best Practice Analyzer. No the tool isn’t perfect and it doesn’t capture everything but it is a good start to see any potential red flags. He can search Microsoft for the version he needs.

    Brent’s Blitz! Script for SQL Server Takeovers also helps you to get familiar with some of the settings. His comments in the code help explain things but Books Online is one of the best online help systems out there. Any concept they are unsure of can be looked up and learned on books online. Brent’s Blitz 60 second takeover info: http://www.brentozar.com/sql/blitz-minute-sql-server-takeovers/

    1. Ernest,
      I agree intellisense is a great tool. It has been around since SQL 2005 if I remember correctly.
      While doing things by hand is a great way to do things when you first start out, using tools, depending of course on the tools, can make a DBA’s job so much easier.
      Thanks for the comment.

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