How To Use Powershell to Configure Multiple Databases for Log Shipping

I recently needed to configure log shipping for multiple databases at once as part of a migration project. I turned to PowerShell to do this.

But before we get to that part, this post assumes that you’ve done the upfront work to create shares for the backups to write to and for the backups to be copied to. This will involve providing the right permissions for the SQL Server service accounts involved in Log Shipping. If you are not familiar with this, that’s perfectly fine. Check out this article in MS Docs first.

Configure Log Shipping With PowerShell

I first used some commands to find what I could use to do this.

Get-Command *LogShipping* -Module DBATools

#This returned Invoke-DbaDbLogShipping

#Then I ran the below to look at the help for this command
Help Invoke-DbaDbLogShipping -Full 

<#I knew I would need to get the databases on the SQL instance so I did the
below and I came across Get-DbaDatabase
#>
Get-Command *database* -Module DBATools

<#Then I ran the help for that to see how to use the command#>
Help Get-DbaDatabase -FULL

 

Then I wrote two options for providing a list of databases to the script. The first option is a hard-coded list of databases. I did this because you might not want to set up every database on an instance to be log shipped. Perhaps you’re only interested in certain ones.  Rather than hard-coding in the PoSH script, you could change this to have the script read a list of databases from a provided text file as well.

The second option assumes that you want to log ship all user databases. I used the switch -ExcludeSystem to make sure the script didn’t try to log ship my system databases.

#Populate a list of databases on the instance that you want to configure logShipping for 
$SQLInstanceName = "MySQLInstance" 
$Databases = "CollegeFootball", "DBAUtility", "StackOverflow2013", "UMSLIntermediateSQLClass" 

<#Or to set up Log Shipping for every user database on the SQL instance#> 
$SQLInstanceName = "MySQLInstance" 
$Databases = get-dbadatabase -sqlinstance $SQLInstanceName -ExcludeSystem -Database $Databases | SELECT Name

 

An Example from the PowerShell Help

Next, from the help for the log shipping command I pulled out one of the examples. This only gets me one database at a time though, so I need to modify this so I can set up log shipping for multiple databases at once.

PS C:\>$params = @{

>> SourceSqlInstance = 'sql1'
>> DestinationSqlInstance = 'sql2'
>> Database = 'db1'
>> SharedPath= '\\sql1\logshipping'
>> LocalPath= 'D:\Data\logshipping'
>> BackupScheduleFrequencyType = 'daily'
>> BackupScheduleFrequencyInterval = 1
>> CompressBackup = $true
>> CopyScheduleFrequencyType = 'daily'
>> CopyScheduleFrequencyInterval = 1
>> GenerateFullBackup = $true
>> RestoreScheduleFrequencyType = 'daily'
>> RestoreScheduleFrequencyInterval = 1
>> SecondaryDatabaseSuffix = 'DR'
>> CopyDestinationFolder = '\\sql2\logshippingdest'
>> Force = $true
>> }
>>
PS C:\> Invoke-DbaDbLogShipping @params

I add in a foreach loop and put it all together to arrive at the below to do this for a selected list of databases.

<#Populate a list of databases on the instance that you want to configure logShipping for. You could also get the list from a text file, if you wanted to.
#>
$SQLInstanceName = "MySQLInstance"
$Databases =  "CollegeFootball", "DBAUtility", "StackOverflow2013"

# Configure Log Shipping.
foreach ($Database in $Databases)
{
  $params = @{
    SourceSqlInstance = $SQLInstanceName
    DestinationSqlInstance = 'MySQLInstance\sql2019'
    Database = $Databases
    BackupNetworkPath = '\\MySQLInstance\LSBackups'
    BackupLocalPath = 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL15.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\LSBackups'
    BackupScheduleFrequencySubdayType = 'Minutes'
    BackupScheduleFrequencySubdayInterval = 5
    CopyDestinationFolder = 'D:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL15.SQL2019\MSSQL\DATA\LogShippingCopy'
    CopyScheduleFrequencySubdayType = 'Minutes'
    CopyScheduleFrequencySubdayInterval = 5
    RestoreScheduleFrequencySubdayType = 'Minutes'
    RestoreScheduleFrequencySubdayInterval = 5
    GenerateFullbackup = $true
    CompressBackup = $true
    NoInitialization = $false
    NoRecovery = $true
    Force = $true
    }
  Invoke-DbaDbLogShipping @params 
}

Take note of a few things.

  1. First, there is a switch in the script called GenerateFullBackup that I’m setting to true. If you have existing backups you want to use, there is a parameter for that called UseExistingFullBackup, and a related parameter called UseBackupFolder.
  2. Second, compressing the backup is not enabled by default, so I used the CompressBackup parameter and set it to true in order to compress backups.
  3. Third, a parameter called DisconnectUsers exists that, in combination with setting the StandBy parameter to true, will make the databases on the secondary readable and then disconnect users when the Log Shipping schedule for the restores kicks in.
  4. I am using the NoRecovery switch set to True. You will need to remove that if you want to use the StandBy Parameter.

 

Log Shipping All User Databases

To configure log shipping with PowerShell so that all the eligible user databases on a SQL instance are done, you would do the following. Notice in this example, I’ve changed the $params for Database from simply $Databases to $Database.Name.

<# 
For setting up Log Shipping on all eligible user databases 
Notice in this script that I changed the Database part of the script to $Database.Name
#>
$SQLInstanceName = "MySQLInstance"
$Databases = get-dbadatabase -sqlinstance $SQLInstanceName -ExcludeSystem | SELECT Name

# Configure Log Shipping 

foreach ($Database in $Databases)
{
    $params = @{
        SourceSqlInstance = 'MySQLInstance'
        DestinationSqlInstance = 'MySQLInstance\sql2019'
        Database = $Database.Name
        BackupNetworkPath = '\\MySQLInstance\LSBackups'
        BackupLocalPath = 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL15.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\LSBackups'
        BackupScheduleFrequencySubdayType = 'Minutes'
        BackupScheduleFrequencySubdayInterval = 5
        CopyDestinationFolder = 'D:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL15.SQL2019\MSSQL\DATA\LogShippingCopy'
        CopyScheduleFrequencySubdayType = 'Minutes'
        CopyScheduleFrequencySubdayInterval = 5
        RestoreScheduleFrequencySubdayType = 'Minutes'
        RestoreScheduleFrequencySubdayInterval = 5
        GenerateFullbackup = $true
        CompressBackup = $true
        NoInitialization = $false
        NoRecovery = $true
        Force = $true
    }

    Invoke-DbaDbLogShipping @params 

}

 

These scripts allow you to configure Log Shipping with PowerShell either for a pre-determined list of databases or for all eligible databases on the SQL instance.

Next Steps to Take

  1. Consider looking up other articles about Log Shipping to learn the details and variations. For example, here and here.
  2. Find a good introduction to PowerShell for use with SQL Server because automation is key these days, especially as your work environment gets larger.
  3. If you would like help with anything in this post, or with something else related to SQL Server, reach out to me here, or on Twitter, and I’ll be glad to offer assistance.

 

What I Learned From Giving My First Presentation

I recently was thrust into a conundrum. I suddenly found myself in need of a speaker for a recent SQL Server Meetup this month. My co-organizer and I had one week to find a presenter, set up a new Meetup, and then publicize so people outside of Meetup would know about it. I decided that was too short notice to go out to  Twitter and ask for volunteers to speak.

I thought, “What could I talk about?” You see, presenting is something I’ve always wanted to start doing. I just never did it. For many years, I thought that I didn’t know enough and that presenting was for the “famous” SQL Server people to do and I should just wait on the sidelines. However, over the last couple of years I’ve felt more confident about what I know.

Alos, I’ve come to realize that even people starting out have things they can share. For example, presentations can just be a series of short talks and work problems that a person has solved. Everyone has those examples. you don’t have to Brent Ozar, Kendra Little or Grant Fritchey to share problems you’ve solved at work. Presenting that information helps the presenter grow and helps the people hearing the content. People in the audience might hear a new, inventive way to resolve an issue, or they might have this problem in the days immediately after the presentation and be helped by having recently heard someone’s explanation of how they solved it, even if the solution wasn’t “ingenious”.

Almost out of nowhere I had an idea. I could talk about features in modern SQL Server that make certain aspects of working with the product easier. These could be enhancements like brand new features and feature sets or things like enhancement to T-SQL. I put together a rough list of items to include. There were close to 20 things on the list. As I worked through the presentation, I narrowed the list to 12 features or enhancements. After about 11 hours building slides, doing research, creating and testing demos and another 2 hours practicing giving the presentation, I was ready. You can see the results of that work here.

However, this post isn’t about the content of the presentation. I want to share what I learned as the result of putting together and giving the presentation. Without further delay, let’s look at the bullet points that follow.

 

  • Be careful what you eat before presenting. You want to focus on your presentation and not your queasy stomach or your heartburn, etc.

 

  • I re-learned where Presenter Notes are in the slides. I had given a presentation many months ago internally to my company. It was on finding good resources for training and during that process, had to look up presenter’s notes for PowerPoint. So much time had gone by since then, that I had to look it up again. In the lower right corner of PowerPoint there is an icon with an ^ with four dashes under it and the word “Notes” next to it. Click that and you get a small window below your slide that you can type your talking points into.

Rather than fill up your slides with text that you end up reading, use this Presenter’s Notes area to make short notes about the ideas you want to explain. Or you could type out what you’re going to say into paragraphs in this area. When you run the slideshow, you will see the slide and your Presenter’s Notes on one screen and your audience will see just the slides.

PowerPoint Presenters Notes

 

  •  I learned there is a Presentation Coach feature in PowerPoint that lets you practice your presentation and provides a feedback report. To use this feature, inside PowerPoint select the Slide Show menu at the top and then “Rehearse With Coach”. This feature gives you feedback about things like your use of filler words, how fast you’re speaking and the tone of your voice.

 

  • I learned there is a built-in Design suggestions feature for your slides in PowerPoint. Once I had my content and Presenter’s Notes mostly the way I wanted it, I realized that I needed to do something about the drab looking slides. I hadn’t started with a template of any kind and now I needed help making it visually interesting.

At the top of the Power Point menu ribbon I clicked on the word Design. Then off to the far right I saw a button called “Design Ideas”. I left clicked that and a new set of slide options opened up down the right side. I clicked on the ones I thought would look ok, keeping in mind certain key things. First, when designing slides you will need to avoid bright or pastel type colors that hurt the eyes. Second, these color choices also often make the text hard to read. As I left clicked on options down the right side, the slides changed and I could see what my presentation would look like.

PowerPoint Presentation Design Ideas Menu

 

  • I learned new information about SQL Server as I researched some topics I was less familiar with. I was less familiar with some topics I was planning to cover than others. As a result, I had to do some research to make sure I understood how the feature worked. In this way, the experience of presenting forced me to learn more about SQL Server, and that’s a good thing!

So, that’s what I learned from giving my first public presentation. I hope this encourages you to start presenting and makes things a little easier for you when you decide to give it a try.

 

Next Steps to Take

  1. Consider some problems you have solved at work and give some thought to formalizing what you learned by sharing that information with others.
  2. Look up a SQL Server Meetup group and join one. Start attending and think about how your experience can help others.
  3. If you would like help with anything in this post, or with something else related to SQL Server, reach out to me here, or on Twitter, and I’ll be glad to offer assistance.

What I’ve Been Doing Recently

Dear readers, it’s been a little while since my last blog post. Life is busy and so I’ve been away for a little bit. I am hoping to get back into the swing of things with more blogging though.

Here’s what I’ve been up to.

  1. Keeping a SQL Server Meetup going. I’ve been working with my co-organizer, Anthony Fortner, to discuss group details and get speakers lined up. I’ve had some difficulty with that recently and I need to go back to the community on Twitter and probably review Sessionize to find some additional people who regularly present.
  2. Finding and transitioning to new employment. Finding new work feels like a full time job. There is a lot of energy that goes into the process. I found a new home about six weeks ago.
  3. Because of the new job I landed, I’ve been figuring out a plan of attack for learning the necessary things about SQL Server in AWS. I’ll likely provide a list of those resources and my plan in a separate blog post.
  4. Watching the 6 part series on Azure SQL from Anna Hoffman and Bob Ward. Coming soon there will be a blog series on their videos. I may use these videos and the Azure SQL learning paths on Microsoft Learn to pursue the DP-300 certification.
  5. Continuing to take care of myself.  I’ve stuck to my routine of taking Saturdays off as described here.  I’ve been watching parts of the NBA Finals with my family and that has been fun and relaxing.
  6. I built and gave my first recorded, public presentation on SQL Server. You can find that here.

I would love to hear from you. Reach out to me via email, leem@leemarkum.com, or on Twitter.

Steps I Took To Handle Burn Out

I want to put a disclaimer at the beginning. I am not a mental health professional. Do not construe anything I say to be professional mental health advice. I am simply telling my story.

I’ve always wanted to be a high impact person. I want my life to count for something. I think most people want that. In the United States, where the idea of “living the American dream” is prominent, this desire to make a difference and to live the dream often leads to people living life by going as fast as possible. By late 2020 I found myself doing that. I found myself going in too many directions.

  1. Trying to start an IT business.
  2. Work a full time  IT job.
  3. Study for an IT certification.
  4. Write 2 blog posts a week.
  5. Began answering questions on technical forums.
  6. Dealing with the stress of a global pandemic.
  7. I moved out of the house I raised my kids in for 17 years just one day after my birthday.

That’s a tough combination. I was excited and full steam ahead on all of those things for several months in 2020. In December I took vacation time for the last two or so weeks of the year. The plan was to throw myself even more into launching the business, studying for the 70-764 and blogging.  However, what I discovered on those first few days of vacation was that I just couldn’t make myself do any of it. I realized I was exhausted.

You’ve heard the phrase about burning the candle at both ends to describe people who are really working hard and staying busy in life. I felt like the latter half of 2020 I hadn’t just been burning the candle at both ends, I’d been trying to melt the whole thing with a blow torch! I was burned out – mentally spent. I also began to wonder if I was experiencing symptoms of depression as well.

So, what did I do?

Making Time for Down Time

 

I rested. That “working vacation” in December 2020 turned into a couple of weeks of doing a whole lot of nothing. I actually took a vacation from my problems and my stress. No writing blog posts or studying for certifications, and I didn’t really work on developing the business either.

I also eventually decided to take a consistent day off. For a few weeks in 2020 I was getting up at 7:30 AM on Saturday and Sunday to start work on blogging and business strategy. I would work for 4 or so hours every Saturday and Sunday morning, then I would take a break for awhile and go do something else. During that time I would frequently return to work on blogging that evening. Even when I decided not to get up early on Saturday and Sunday, I was still dedicating the first few hours of both days to blogging and technical work. Essentially, I was working 7 days a week.

Many years ago I worked two jobs and had only 2 days a month off. That’s right – 2 days a month!  I did that for 5 years and was elated when I no longer had to do that. I remember how dropping down to one job changed me quite rapidly, and for the better. Going back to that was not something I wanted to repeat, but I still knew that I would need to put in some effort on my own time to accomplish any of the goals I had.

As a result, I’ve started taking off all day on Saturdays. For probably 2-3 months, I haven’t done anything technical on Saturdays. On Sundays, I sleep in like a person would normally do on their day off and then I do probably 2-4 hours of technical work. This has made a big difference in my mental energy levels. Our bodies and minds were not designed to be going, going, going. We need down time. We need recreation.

Re-focused My Certification Efforts

I had been working hard on the 70-764 SQL Server certification. As I worked through that material, I realized I was learning, or re-learning, a lot of things that I probably wasn’t  going to use any time soon. I had previously been studying for the AZ-900 and switched to the 70-764 because I knew the deadline for that certification was coming. With this new realization, I switched back to the AZ-900 some time in early to mid-January because I could see more potential for using what I was learning. I’m happy to say that in early March I passed the AZ-900! Three weeks later I passed the DP-900 and I’m working on the DP-300.

De-prioritizing My Business

This seems like a bad idea for my business, but it is the choice I made. Remember what I said earlier? I was doing too many things at once. Something had to give.

From March 2020 until early December 2020 I had been working hard on business plans and talking to friends in and out of the tech industry to get input. In October 2020 I incorporated the business, currently just named Lee Markum LLC. It is a tech company focusing on helping people with their SQL Server performance issues. I paid a local web developer a small amount of money to make some changes to the website because those changes desperately needed to be made and I wanted to focus on other aspects of the business.

I contacted a company in Canada who works with SQL Server professionals to update websites. The price was a bit of a steep investment so I wanted to wait until I had more cash on hand. I also made some software purchases around the time of the Black Friday sales in November 2020.

The one thing I hadn’t wanted to do was to try to start this business on my own, but that’s what ended up happening. I invited some friends to launch it with me, and for a few months there was interest. However, what I realized was that while I was full steam ahead on this because the idea of this business had been brewing in my head and heart for about 10 years, the timing just wasn’t right for my friends to join me in the adventure. I have no hard feelings toward my friends. As I said, the timing just wasn’t right for them to be involved in the ways I envisioned.

So, the business went on hold for a bit. I needed to get a detail about my Doing Business As name straightened out anyway. Thanks to the slow grinding wheels of state government, that issues wasn’t resolved until sometime in March 2021.

No Blogging or Technical Forums

I didn’t intentionally decide to take a break from blogging and answering questions on forums. This just sort of happened, but I think it was for the best. Blogging takes a fair amount of time and energy. I took the time off in December, but in January I still found that I only had the mental capacity to do my full time technical job as a SQL Server DBA. Compiling blog ideas and  creating drafts still occurred, but that’s as far as I made it and so that is why I have had only 3 posts this year. I plan to get a queue of posts written so I can post at least once a week. I spent my time in Feb/March focused on the two Azure tests I took so I could get them out of the way.

So that’s a big part of what has been going on with me and my various projects. The previous year has been hard on all of us. I am certain most everyone would like to forget that 2020 happened, and we’re all coping the best way we know how.

Next Steps to Take

  1. Assess your well-being. Think deeply about how you’re truly doing right now.
  2. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
  3. Watch this presentation from Tracy Boggiano on “Mental Health in IT” presented at PASS this last Fall.
  4. Check out this post from SQL Server guru Kendra Little where she gives advice to her 20 year old self.
  5. Also read here where Kendra talks about experiencing burn out for herself and what she did.

Top 3 Most Popular Posts of 2020

So, I realize it’s now almost April of 2021 when I’m posting this. Normally this sort of post would come out in January for the previous year. However, I have a reason for this being late and I’ll actually post about that separately.

Showing My Blog Some Love

In mid-2020 I decided to give my blog more attention. there were a number of reasons for this. First, I’d already spent a fair amount of money over the years on hosting and related things so I didn’t want to waste that. Second, I really wanted to try to start giving back to the SQL Server community. I have been the recipient of a lot of learning and help through a number of regular, and occasional, bloggers. I have also purchased and mostly read my fair share of SQL Server books, which was another way I had been helped by the community. Third, I wanted a place to record my own troubleshooting and learning so when I needed to do something again, I would have a record of what to do. By the way, I have seen this repeatedly listed as a reason that someone blogs.

Blog Posts by Month

So, here is the break down of the number of posts by month for 2020:

  • April – 1
  • July – 1 This was the last week of the month and marks my decision to start blogging more consistently.
  • Aug – 3
  • Sept – 4
  • Oct – 4
  • Nov – 7 – I had built a good backlog of posts that were ready to publish and nearly reached my goal of posting twice a week for the entire month
  • Dec – 4

To get the list of the most popular blog posts I looked at Google Analytics PageView data for Jan 1, 2020 – Dec 31, 2020.

Popular Post # 1

The most viewed page based on this data had 354 views and was part 1 of a series on PowerShell for the DBA. The series was meant to show some “getting started” type techniques so that someone could open PowerShell and start exploring what the tool could do for them as a DBA. I explored how to find commands that might be of interest and how to use the help system in PowerShell to figure out how to use the command. I also provided some practical examples of PowerShell to use in every day scenarios.

https://leemarkum.com/archive/2020/11/introduction-to-powershell-for-the-dba-part-1/ 

Popular Post #2

The second most viewed page had 332 views and covered 5 different ways to make a SQL Server backup. Backups are so important, especially in the world of data. They give you and your business a way to recover data that has been lost or damaged in some way. As a Database Administrator, you need to be able to recover and that all starts with taking backups. That seems obvious but I still read stories of businesses that aren’t even backing up their databases. If you do have backups, you also need also to test whether you can use those backups to actually restore data.

https://leemarkum.com/archive/2020/09/5-ways-to-make-sql-server-backups/ 

Popular Post #3

The third most viewed post had 273 views and was about using a new feature in SQL Server 2019. This feature is based on the polybase technology that arrived in SQL Server 2016. However, the feature has now been extended to allow SQL Server to have external tables to ole db and odbc sources, such as SQL Server, MS Access, and, yes, even things like Oracle and IBM iSeries/AS400. The external, or virtual table, uses mostly built-in drivers. With this feature yo can run SELECT statements against remote data sources without a linked server. The environment I’m in has an AS400/IBM iSeries so I wanted to see if I could get the feature to work with that data source.

https://leemarkum.com/archive/2020/04/querying-an-as400-using-sql-server-2019-data-virtualization/

There you have it. I hope you enjoyed these posts in 2020, and if you haven’t seen them, give them a click and read through the information. I hope you learn something from the posts and if you have questions or comments reach out to me here, or on Twitter, and I’ll be happy to talk to you.

My Availability Group Database Isn’t Synchronizing

I currently manage 5 AlwaysOn Availability Groups. Two are on SQL Server 2014 and overdue for an upgrade, while three of them are on SQL Server 2017.  From time to time I have run into a couple of different situations that I needed to troubleshoot and I want to tell you where to look and what to check on in these scenarios. I can’t possibly tell you about everything that could go wrong, but I can tell you about my experience with AlwaysOn Availability Groups and let you decide if that experience helps you or not.

A Single Database Is Not Synchronizing

If a single Availability Group database is in the “Not Synchronizing” state, what would you do?

There are several things to check. First you could look in SQL Server Management Studio to see if data movement has been suspended. If it has then you will see an icon similar to two pipes || over the database icon.  You will also see messages in the Error Log about data movement being suspended. If this is the case, try to resume data movement. This can be done in SSMS by right clicking the database in the Availability Databases folder and choose “Resume Data Movement”. Alternatively, you could execute the below T-SQL.

ALTER DATABASE [YourDatabase] SET HADR RESUME

Beyond that you can also use PowerShell to resume data movement for the database.

<#
gcm is the alias for Get-Command. Below I'm using wildcards to find any commands with the wor "resume" in it
and specifying that I want PowerShell to look in the DBATools module.
#>
gcm *resume* -Module DBATools

<#
Once I have found a command I think might help me, then I run the alias Help for Get-Help
to find out how to use the command

#>

help Resume-DbaAgDbDataMovement -Detailed

#Resumes data movement on db1 and db2 to ag1 on sql2017a. Prompts for confirmation.

Resume-DbaAgDbDataMovement -SqlInstance sql2017a -AvailabilityGroup ag1 -Database db1, db2
    

 

Second, check the SQL Server Error Log for errors related to the AG and check the  AlwaysOn_health xEvent that is running by default for AGs. To check the default health session for AlwaysOn Availability Groups, open SSMS and navigate to Management > Extended Events > Sessions > AlwaysOn_health. Then, click the plus sign next to it in order to drill down to see the file. Right click the file and choose “View Target Data”. After doing that, you can filter and search the file for relevant entries.

Extended Events AlwaysOn Health

If none of these things gives you enough information to resolve the problem, you could also restart the SQL Server service on the secondary that is showing the database that isn’t synchronizing. Again, there are many ways to do this, and I’m going to encourage you to look at the DBATools module in PowerShell to find an automated way to handle this. As a last resort, you could remove the database from the AG and then re-add it to the AG.

None of the Availability Group Databases Are Synchronizing

What if all of the databases are in the “not synchronizing” state, what would you do?

This is a little different because in this case every database on at least one secondary is in the “Not Synchronizing” state. The prior scenario was only about a single database with a synchronization issue.

The primary thing I check in this scenario is whether the cluster service is running on the secondary. If it isn’t, then none of the databases will synchronize. I have seen this happen several times, particularly after secondary servers have been rebooted. You could also have a network disconnect between this replica and the primary. Again though, the SQL Server Error log or the AlwaysOn_health extended events session will show you this. Additionally, you can look in the Cluster Events section of the Failover Cluster Manager for one of the nodes in the AG. In there you may find that you have lost quorum for some reason.

If for some reason you need to get down into the fine details of what is happening with the failover cluster, then check out the following path in the Windows Event Viewer.

Event Viewer > Applications and Services Log > Microsoft > Windows > FailoverClustering. In that location are three logs called Diagnostic, DiagnosticVerbose and Operational.

Next Steps To Take

  1. Go to YouTube and find videos on Availability Groups.
  2. Consider taking a class from the fine folks at SQLSkills about Failover Clustering and Availability Groups.
  3. Reach out to somebody if you have questions. If you would like help with anything in this post, or with something else related to SQL Server, reach out to me here, or on Twitter, and I’ll be glad to offer assistance.

 

SQL Server Query Store Overview

Query Store came out in SQL Server 2016. It was the next evolution of Microsoft’s attempts to provide valuable performance data. In this post you’re going to learn a bit about the history of native monitoring in SQL Server, why you should be using the Query Store, as well as how to view the information made available in SQL Server Query Store. This post is just an overview meant to get you to jump into using the feature. This feature is rich enough that someone can present on it easily for an entire day.

A Very Brief History of Native Monitoring in SQL Server

Query Store came out in SQL Server 2016. It was the next evolution of Microsoft’s attempts to provide valuable performance data. With SQL Server 2005, the Dynamic Management View and Dynamic Management Functions were a giant leap forward in terms of providing data about what was going on inside SQL Server. Performance tuning with those objects opened up a whole new world of insight. The “Waits and Queues” methodology for performance tuning rapidly sprung up.

The Data Collection and Management Data Warehouse feature, new in SQL Server 2008, collects both server and database level performance metrics. Deployment of this feature is possible on both a single instance of SQL Server and across multiple instances. That data could then be centralized and viewed through a series of reports.

Extended Events also came out in SQL Server 2008. Despite being a lighter weight replacement for SQL Server Profiler, Extended Events was a bit unwieldy and there was no UI. Adoption was slow.

In SQL Server 2012, Microsoft built a UI for Extended Events, and that helped improve adoption.  Extended Events opened up a wealth of information that Profiler cannot offer.

Then in SQL Server 2016, the Query Store came on the scene. Now that we’ve arrived at this feature, let’s talk about it!

Why Use SQL Server Query Store?

 

  1. Query Store solves the challenge of persisting performance data over time.

The feature collects and persists information about query performance by gathering the queries that are ran in a particular time interval, their query plans and aggregated runtime performance data for those queries. To do this natively, you would need to run extended events continuously and capture a lot of data. Then that data would need to be persisted and done so in a way that allows for easy analysis later. Capturing query text, the plans and other data about query performance isn’t free, even with something like Extended Events. Also, query plans are pushed out of memory as time goes on and,  of course, every time you restart the SQL Server valuable performance data is lost. Query Store solves this problem.

2. Persisted data in Query Store allows for detecting issues related to query plan changes.

The feature allows the DBA to track queries across time and displays all the different query plans associated with the query, up to the default of 200 execution plans per query. When a plan changes, the Query Store reports bubble up this information. The information also includes aggregated runtime data associated with each plan. Detecting this sort of issue without Query Store is much more challenging.

3. With Query Store you can see query performance across time and from a variety of perspectives.

Microsoft added query wait statistics to the feature in SQL Server 2017. Bar graphs in the Query Wait Statistics report show categories of wait types. Queries that contribute to that wait type, such as CPU, Memory, Lock etc. ,   are visible in the report. The DBA then has valuable insight into waits experienced by queries thanks to Query Store. This report can be based on Total Wait Time, like below, or Avg, Min, Max, and Standard Deviation. Left clicking on the wait category shows the queries contributing to that wait type.

 

Example report for Query store Wait Statistics report

With the built-in Query Store reports, the DBA can see expensive, poor performing queries with the highest CPU, duration, logical reads and more. This data can also be based on totals, averages min/max and standard deviation. By doing so, Query Store offers insight into the most expensive, painful queries that are hurting performance during any particular time slice and across days of history retained in the Query Store.

4. You can view missing index recommendations for expensive queries  using Query Store. Now, you shouldn’t go out and blindly apply the recommendations, but this does offer you the chance to analyze existing queries and the missing index recommendation to see if index cleanup and consolidation needs to happen. This process can benefit not only the query with the missing index recommendation, but other queries in the workload as well.

How To Enable the SQL Server Query Store

Enabling the Query Store is simple enough with two lines of T-SQL, but there are some defaults and options that you should understand before you enable the feature. Not all defaults are going to be desirable and you’ll learn which ones you should adjust as we progress. I will be showing you this in SQL Server 2017.

Below is what the query store UI looks like when initially opened and Query Store is not enabled. To get to this, open SSMS and connect to a SQL Server that is at least version 2016. then drill down into the databases folder and right click a database name and left click the “Properties” option. Then left click Query Store on the left in the “Select a Page” area.

Initial Query Store SSMS
Initial Query Store Screen Before Enabling

Now, when you left click on the drop down menu for Operation Mode(Requested) you get options for Read Only and Read write. To enable the query store and have it capture performance data, select the Read write option. Now you have a screen that looks like the below. Please note the two options I have bracketed in red. You will want to change these options and we will discuss that as I explain what these options do.

Query Store Defaults
Defaults for the Query Store

Query Store does not write collected data synchronously, but asynchronously. The “Data Flush Interval (Minutes)” value controls how long collected query data sits in memory before being written to disk. There is a trace flag that controls whether the data is written to disk prior to a shutdown as well as one that controls whether the data in Query Store is loaded first before a database comes online.

The “Statistics Collection Interval” also known as Interval_Length_Minutes, determines the time period over which aggregations of the data occur. Valid values are (1, 5, 10, 15, 30, 60, 1440). The smaller the value, the more granular your data will be and the more space that will be used by the feature.

The defaults for the following options should be changed. “Max Size (MB)” controls how large the Query Store can be and works in conjunction with a couple of different settings. The default size is 100 MB, and that is simply too small to store data on SQL Servers with much of a workload. The recommended setting for this is 2048 MB from Erin Stellato of SQLSkills.com. That is a starting point and size can be monitored from there.

The setting “Query Store Capture Mode” in SQL Server 2017 defaults to “All”. This captures even queries with virtually no impact on performance metrics like CPU, duration, logical reads, etc. It is unlikely that you need to capture every single query ran. It is probably better to set this to “Auto”.

The amount of space used by this feature is also influenced by the Size Based Cleanup Mode setting. The default is auto and it should be left that way. When the storage size for Query Store gets close to the maximum set in Max Storage Size (MB), then a clean up process kicks in, removing older data.

The space used is also influenced by the “Stale Query Threshold (Days) ”  setting. The default is 30 days and this controls how much query performance history is persisted. The default is a good starting point and depending on needs, you may want to keep more so you can see changes over a longer period of time. You might choose to do this if you really have no Dev or QA environment to speak of at your employer so most development is done in production. You know you shouldn’t be doing that, but I also know that many DBAs don’t work in the ideal, perfect environment.

As mentioned earlier, the “Wait Statistics Capture Mode” is available and on by default. If you leave it on, which is recommended, you get the benefits discussed earlier. You also will have a larger footprint for your Query Store so this is another option that influences size.

Once you have all of these options configured, simply press OK in the SSMS dialog.

If you prefer to use T-SQL, below is a sample script to enable this feature and change the two settings discussed above that are not great defaults.

USE [master]
GO
ALTER DATABASE [MyDB] SET QUERY_STORE = ON
GO
ALTER DATABASE [MyDB] SET QUERY_STORE (OPERATION_MODE = READ_WRITE, MAX_STORAGE_SIZE_MB = 2048, 
QUERY_CAPTURE_MODE = AUTO)
GO

Next Steps to Take

  1. Consider your current monitoring solutions and consider making Query Store part of your approach to performance tuning.
  2. If you like reading books, Tracy Boggiano and Grant Fritchey have a great book on Query Store.
  3. If you would like help with anything in this post, or with something else related to SQL Server, reach out to me here, or on Twitter, and I’ll be glad to offer assistance.

Measuring Your DBA Skills

Over the last 9 weeks I took you on a journey of skills and career topics related to being a SQL Server DBA. We looked at the Production DBA. We saw skills and career topics from the beginning to mid-career to Senior DBA. Then we looked at the Development DBA and their skills and career development needs. Finally there was a wrap up post.

To make it easier for everyone to get to these posts, I decided to bring them all together on a single page.

measuring your skills

 Production DBA Skills Years 0-2

Production DBA Skills Years 2-4

Production DBA Skills Years 4-7

Senior Production DBA Skills Years 7+

Development DBA Skills Years 0-2

Development DBA Skills Years 2-4

Development DBA Skills Years 4-7

Senior Development DBA Skills Years 7+

Series wrap-up

If you would like help with anything in this post, or with something else related to SQL Server, reach out to me here, or on Twitter, and I’ll be glad to offer assistance.

Insufficient System Memory – Failed Allocate Pages

 

Unable to Start SQL Server

In my own local SQL Server I ran across a problem starting the SQL instance. I went to SQL Server configuration Manager and manually started the SQL Server instance. The UI showed the instance had started. I opened SSMS and tried to connect. And I waited, waited and waited some more until it didn’t connect and threw an error.

How To Locate the SQL Server Error Log

I knew I could look at the SQL Server Error Log to get more information on what had gone wrong.  I browsed to the directory where the log file is. For any system that is found by going to the drive where the binaries have been installed and go to \Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\SQLServerVersionNumber.InstanceName\MSSQL\Log. In that location you will look for files like Errorlog, errorlog.1 through errorlog.6 The file with no number at the end is the most recent Error Log. Double click it and open in your favorite viewer. As I read through the file, I came across the below.

Insufficient System Memory – Failed Allocate Pages

 

Failed Allocate Pages - Insufficient System Memory

Also, you can read the SQL Server Error Log using the extended stored procedure xp_readerrorlog. Here is an example that shows the memory related messages from the SQL Server Error log. Of course, you can only do that once your SQL Server is running.

xp_readerrorlog 0, 1, "memory"

Then the next thing was, how do I investigate this since I can’t start the SQL Server?

Startup Parameters for SQL Server

SQL Server has startup parameters that can be added to the SQL Server Configuration Manager to control what happens when SQL Server starts. I was looking for something that would help me get SQL Server started and let me poke around. At first I tried -m for single user mode but SQL Server still wouldn’t start. Then I found the -f parameter and it sounded like just what I needed.

“Starts an instance of SQL Server with minimal configuration. This is useful if the setting of a configuration value (for example, over-committing memory) has prevented the server from starting. Starting SQL Server in minimal configuration mode places SQL Server in single-user mode. For more information, see the description for -m that follows.”

Now that I had that information I opened SQL Server Configuration Manager. I located the SQL Server instance I couldn’t start and right clicked it. I then chose properties and typed -f in the Startup Parameters tab.

I then clicked Add to the right of the startup parameter I just added. I clock Ok and I’m prompted that I need to restart the SQL Server service to make this change effective. So, I restart SQL Server and attempt my connection again, and I’m in!

SQL Server Configuration Manager Startup Parameters

 

Because this was an insufficient memory error, I right clicked the name of my SQL Server instance and selected Properties then Memory. I see I only have 1024 MB assigned to the SQL instance for Max Server Memory. I increased it to 3072 MB and clicked Ok.

I went back to SQL Server Configuration Manager and removed the -f startup parameter and restarted SQL Server. Now I am able to start up SQL Server and connect with no issues.

What To Do Next

  1. Go back to the link on SQL Server Startup Parameters and familiarize yourself with what is in there. You never know when you might need functionality from a startup parameter to get you past a problem.
  2. Do some research on Max Server Memory.
  3. If you would like help with anything in this post, or with something else related to SQL Server, reach out to me here, or on Twitter, and I’ll be glad to offer assistance.

 

How Do I Measure My DBA Skills Part 9

Production and Development DBA Skills and Things We Didn’t Touch On

We’ve covered a lot of ground for Production and Development DBAs in terms of the skills and applicable career topics. We’ve mentioned necessary skills with T-SQL, backup/restore, automation, PowerShell, troubleshooting, SSIS, SSRS, patching, Query Store, HA/DR, leadership and emotional intelligence. That’s quite a list! However, looking back at the series, there are still a number of things that weren’t mentioned.

Other skills and career topics not discussed along the way:

  1. OS skills – This once used to be just Window skills. However, with SQL Server on Linux, and depending on what is in use in your environment, you may need to learn the basics of the Linux platform as well as Windows.
  2. I also didn’t touch on the topic of SQL Server Wait Statistics. This is a tried and true method for diagnosing server level issues that can lead to further investigation about what ails your SQL Server.
  3. What about the cloud and virtualization? Azure, AWS, Google Cloud Platform, VMware, Hyper-V. These are all virtualization platforms that are in use these days, so you may encounter these and need to know, or might want to know, something about how they work.
  4. What about certifications? Are they worthwhile? Should you pursue one? If yes, which one?

Then there is also a third career title I didn’t even mention. What about the DBA whose focus or specialty is in BI? You are the person who takes care of the SQL Servers, but maybe you also write a lot of reports for the business using SSRS, Power BI, maybe SSAS, Tableau, Qlik or some other reporting platform. This may really just be a specialty within the Development DBA role, but it could be separate as well.

Beyond the Senior levels of the types of DBA careers discussed, you’re likely to end up moving into management. That will open up an entirely different set of needed skills and career topics that you will need to explore.

Next Steps To Take

Planning - To Do List

  1. If you’ve read through this series and followed the instructions about building a training plan for skills you would like to develop, then you likely have a significant list of skills to work on. Don’t focus on how long the list is. Select one thing and work on it for however long it takes for you to feel at least semi-comfortable with it. Then, cross it off the list and pick something else. Repeat the process. Within a few weeks or months, you will see a lot of progress.
  2. Remember to keep your skills/career development plan somewhere that allows you to see the plan every day. This will help keep you on track and your To Do list prioritized.
  3. You can go to kand.io and find a variety of graded skills test. There is one for Database Administrators and one for Database Developers. Both were written by the fine people at SQLSKills.com.
  4. If you would like help with anything in this post, or with something else related to SQL Server, reach out to me here, or on Twitter, and I’ll be glad to offer assistance.