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Summary : This article highlights crucial practices for Database Administrators in SQL Server management, including vigilant monitoring, utilizing DBCC commands, maintaining index health, regular statistics updates, and adjusting MAX memory limits. These practices are essential for efficient SQL database management, ensuring data availability and optimal performance.

The role of a Database Administrator is vital in ensuring a robust database, providing instant data accessibility, and facilitating necessary modifications. Managing a healthy and accessible database is straightforward. However, when the MDF file, which serves as SQL Server’s data file, encounters structural issues due to corruption, it can trigger a range of errors. In this article, we outline essential checkpoints that Administrators should adhere to in every database, enhancing both performance and overall health.

Monitoring and Alert Automation

Having a well-defined strategy is essential for effective database management. Your strategy should encompass a thorough monitoring and notification system for crucial database parameters, often indicative of potential issues. Vigilance is key, requiring meticulous attention to various aspects of your SQL Server environments, including instance and server availability, database performance (encompassing cross-server data contention), as well as job management and overdue jobs.

For a database administrator, it’s crucial to vigilantly monitor databases from various vendors. Simultaneously, you must adeptly assess database statuses, navigate through data and graphs, swiftly identify and rectify performance issues. Utilizing alerts and notifications, you can automate scripts to proactively address problems before they escalate.

Consistency Checks

If you have experience with SQL Server, you’re likely aware of the numerous DBCC commands, both documented and undocumented, each serving different functions.

Running DBCC CHECKDB is a simple way to verify that you aren’t backing up a damaged database. However, starting with SQL Server 2000, there’s no longer a necessity to execute DBCC CHECKDB or DBCC CHECKALLOC statements. The latest version of SQL Server automatically identifies damaged pages and resolves the issues.

Nonetheless, it’s prudent to exercise caution. Running DBCC CHECKDB to assess your database’s overall health before backing it up remains a wise practice. In SQL Server 2000, DBCC CHECKDB employs schema locks for this purpose.

Other helpful DBCC commands for fine-tuning your database include DBCC SHRINKFILE and DBCC SHRINKDATABASE. These commands are invaluable for reducing the size of database files. It’s crucial to remember that smaller database files are consistently easier to manage, making these commands highly advantageous.

Maintenance of Index

You’re likely aware that SQL Server utilizes indexes to read data from tables. Therefore, it’s essential to create suitable indexes for each table. Maintaining minimal index fragmentation is crucial. Here are some methods to achieve this:

  1. Consider dropping and recreating an index, especially when multiple indexes on the same table are affected. In cases where the clustered index is impacted, it’s crucial to drop and re-create it. Utilize DBCC DBREINDEX with the table name to re-create one or multiple indexes on the specific table. Alternatively, you can effectively leverage the CREATE INDEX … WITH DROP EXISTING syntax to rebuild an index.
  2. Execute the DBCC INDEXDEFRAG statement corresponding to the affected index. This command is valuable as it reorganizes the leaf-level pages of the index, eliminating fragmentation. However, it’s important to note that DBCC INDEXDEFRAG temporarily halts user access to the table for reading and writing during the process.
Statistics Updating

In order to maintain a high level of performance, you could even minimize the index fragmentation.

Index statistics play a crucial role by informing SQL Server about the various key values within an index. Outdated statistics can create challenges for SQL Server in assessing index effectiveness accurately. Consequently, the server might opt to scan the entire table instead of utilizing the index.

Regularly updating statistics ensures the practical utilization of indexes. One highly recommended approach is scheduling a job to execute the UPDATE STATISTICS statement, or alternatively, running the system procedure sp_updatestats. The distinction between the two methods lies in –

  • UPDATE STATISTICS would require you the table (view) or index name and completes an update on the specified object.
  • The sp_updatestats process just runs over a cursor containing all user tables.

Updating statistics on large tables with multiple indexes is a time-consuming process. Experts highly recommend running UPDATE STATISTICS separately for such tables. For example, it’s advisable to update statistics for small tables daily and tackle large tables on alternate days. This strategic approach ensures efficient management of the updating process, leading to improved overall database performance.

Alter the MAX Memory Limit

In recent years, there have been enhancements in the 64-bit versions of SQL Server concerning memory allocation. However, a significant challenge faced by many administrators is determining the appropriate default settings for MAX Memory. Even if your host server is dedicated to SQL Server, other applications also demand sufficient memory resources. The recommended approach is to set the MAX memory setting at least 1 to 2GB below the total server memory. It’s crucial to assess the memory requirements of other running applications to ensure they operate efficiently while maintaining optimal SQL Server performance.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that each year, SQL server databases expand in size. As an administrator, senior management continually demands higher data availability and performance, often within constrained budgets. The five fundamental tips discussed above can significantly aid you in efficiently managing SQL database assets. By eliminating redundancies, these strategies also minimize the need for additional skills to handle SQL databases effectively.

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