The Benefits of SQL Server Health Checks

by Aug 5, 2019

Multiple benefits can be gained through the use of SQL server health checks. They might not be at the top of your DBA’s to-do list, but a regular regimen of health checks can help you identify issues that impact the performance of your servers and databases. We are going to look at some of the reasons you should begin performing SQL server health checks if they are not already part of your administrative regimen.

What is an SQL Server Health Check?

Many moving parts contribute to the performance of your SQL servers. Getting a handle on how your server is operating under the best circumstances can be difficult for even the most experienced DBAs. When issues arise and users or management have complaints about the speed and functionality of your systems, the impetus to find the underlying problems can become overwhelming. There are a lot of possible causes for your database’s lack of performance. Where can a stressed-out DBA turn for help? Conducting a health check on your SQL servers is a great place to start.

An SQL server health check is a process by which you compile information that can be used to pinpoint issues related to the performance of your systems. A server check can also be instrumental in enabling you to understand the SQL Servers for which you are responsible as well as shedding light on problems that they may be experiencing.

A productive SQL server health check should address specific aspects of your server and environment. Some of the functions that a viable health check will perform include:

  • Validating process architecture, code, and database design
  • Identifying problem code that is causing slow performance
  • Finding potential scalability and capacity issues
  • Verifying that the SQL environment and its users are secure
  • Assisting in planning for application and platform upgrades
  • Providing relevant information to guide cloud transformation or virtualization

What Can You Achieve with Health Checks?

SQL Server health checks can be used to collect knowledge about your environment or to address particular problems that are affecting its performance. Let’s look at some benefits that can result from the information gained through server health checks.

  • You will obtain a deeper understanding of an SQL server and how it fits in with the overall environment and business strategy. To accomplish this, you need to gather information regarding the applications which run on the server and any SLAs that they need to meet. After gaining the appropriate high-level knowledge regarding the server instance, you can go after more technical aspects of the system such as those concerning the infrastructure on which it is running.

  • Low-level details of the SQL Server instance and its associated database should also be included in health checks. This data will help give a full picture of the system that can be used for troubleshooting or simply create baseline documentation for later comparative analysis. You may be alerted to issues such as outdated service packs, faulty configuration, and SQL Agent Jobs that repeatedly fail.

  • Eliminating security breaches is of utmost importance in the current landscape of cybercrime and compliance. Health checking your SQL servers can uncover issues that make you more susceptible to an attack and which will cause you to fail a compliance audit. The health check might indicate that permissions need to be reworked and that improper levels of encryption are being used for sensitive data. You can save yourself and your organization a lot of time and money by proactively handling these problems.

  • Server health checks can assist in ensuring that the proper maintenance is being performed regularly on your systems. Confirming that commands which perform functions such as updating statistics and rebuilding and reorganizing indexes are being executed regularly is key to keeping the servers running efficiently.

  • Verifying the backup plans and procedures in place for each SQL Server instance is a critical but sometimes overlooked task that a DBA needs to perform. A health check can help identify gaps in your backup procedures that can be addressed before you are called upon to perform a restore for which you are not prepared. Lack of valid backups can cripple an organization when exposed to a disaster or ransomware attack.

How to Run Comprehensive SQL Server Health Checks

Hopefully, you are convinced of the advantages of running periodic SQL server health checks. The issues that can be found through these checks are invaluable for a DBA who is concerned with the performance and security of their servers and databases. The question then becomes how to best perform an SQL Server health check.

As with many facets of the IT industry, you have choices. You can create manual scripts and queries to extract the information that you need. This can be very time-consuming and lends itself to organizational complexity and coding errors.

A better solution is to use a dedicated tool which is designed to identify security, performance, and data protection issues that are impacting your SQL server. IDERA’s SQL Doctor provides all of the features that you need to keep your SQL servers running at peak efficiency.

SQL Doctor can be used to generate reports that will help you tune your physical, virtual, and cloud servers. You can use it to summarize the health of your complete installation or drill down to investigate specific servers. The tool provides prioritized lists of possible performance optimizations and can automatically create executable SQL scripts to streamline your systems.

You can run SQL Doctor on an as-needed basis or as part of a regularly scheduled health check initiative. Don’t wait until the patient exhibits symptoms of an illness. Get the Doctor on it now and keep your SQL Servers and their users healthy and happy.