Prashanth Jayaram

Backup Linux SQL Server databases using PowerShell and Windows task scheduler

May 22, 2018 by

This article is an in-depth guide on how PowerShell can be used to maintain and manage SQL backup on Linux and Windows machines.

Here’s an outline of what this article is all about:

  • Introduction
  • Technical specifications
  • How to load SQL Server modules on Windows machine
  • Security – Credential Management
  • The objectives of Backup and Restore
  • Library Linkage
  • How SQL Server 2017 backup feature is used on Linux
  • And more …
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Sifiso W. Ndlovu

Understanding benefits of Graph Databases over Relational Databases through Self-Joins in SQL Server

May 21, 2018 by

Earlier this year, I published several articles on SQLShack with an aim of demonstrating tools available for visualising SQL Server 2017 graph databases. I was so caught up in the excitement of having SQL Server finally support graph databases that I forgot that some people still do not have a good grasp of how graph databases work let alone consider replacing their relational databases models in favour of graph. Although there are several ways that one can go about explaining the usefulness of graph databases over its relational counterpart, I have opted to focus on the benefits and strengths of graph databases by demonstrating the differences in which graph and relational databases deal with hierarchical datasets.

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Timothy Smith

Securing access for SQL Server auditing

May 21, 2018 by

Our organization must restrict permissions and prove to an independent party that we investigate access and restrict permissions. We restrict permissions to objects using least permissions and give full access to an exceptional few based on an organizational design that follows best practices. What can we do additionally that will help us prevent unauthorized access or catch when someone who shouldn’t have access is able to infiltrate our systems, especially in the context of showing a third party that we track this.

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Ahmad Yaseen

Tracing and tuning queries using SQL Server indexes

May 18, 2018 by

In the previous articles of this series (see the full article TOC at bottom), we discussed the internal structure of the SQL Server tables and indexes, the best practices to follow when designing a proper index, the group of operations that you can perform on the SQL Server indexes, how to design effective Clustered and Non-clustered indexes and finally the different types of SQL Server indexes, above and beyond Clustered and Non-clustered indexes classification. In this article, we will discuss how to tune the performance of the bad queries using SQL Server Indexes.

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Prashanth Jayaram

How to perform a page level restore in SQL Server

May 18, 2018 by

In this article in our stairway series on SQL Server backup and restore, we shall discuss the importance of understanding the internals of the page restoration for a database administrator. Most of the time, performing a page-level restore suffices for database availability. A good backup strategy is a key to recovery or restoration, and SQL Server provides us with an option to fix database pages at a granular level. Performing a page level restore in SQL Server is a clever option wherein the restoration of the entire VLDB database backup is not required.

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Timothy Smith

Restricting and monitoring SQL Server data access with views and procedures

May 17, 2018 by

We recently faced a leak of information for one of our employees that involved data which caused a conflict within our company, even if it was not personally identifiable information (PII data). When we investigated the issue, we uncovered that we need to organize data access for our teams and review who has access to what information. As of right now, all our users either have access to all tables directly or a subset of all our tables. What are some practices we can use in SQL Server to avoid giving direct table access to our users? Read more »

Gerald Britton

Recursive CTEs and Foreign Key References in SQL Server

May 16, 2018 by

Introduction

Foreign key constraints are a powerful mechanism for preserving referential integrity in a database. They can also represent a challenge when doing bulk table loads, since you need to find a “base” table to start with – that is, a table that has no foreign key constraints defined. Let’s label tables like this as level 0, or ground level if you like. Once that is loaded, you can begin to load other tables that have foreign key references to the base table. We can label those tables level 1, and so on. If you start with table data that already has referentially integrity and load tables by their level numbers — level 0, level 1, level 2 and so on – the load should proceed without problems. Let’s look at a simple example:

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Ben Richardson

Understanding SQL Server’s TRY_PARSE and TRY_CONVERT functions

May 16, 2018 by

Data conversion is one of the most fundamental tasks of any programming language. Data received from different sources is often not in the right format. For example, if you receive an XML file where age is in the string format and you want to calculate an average age for the people in the file you will need to convert age into an integer.

To make the conversion process simple, the TRY_PARSE and TRY_CONVERT functions were introduced in SQL Server 2012. Before TRY_PARSE and TRY_CONVERT, SQL Server only had the PARSE and CONVERT functions.

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Nikhilesh Patel

The HashBytes function in T-SQL

May 16, 2018 by

One of the paramount ways to guard data within a database is to utilize database encryption. However, no one encryption solution is perfect for all databases. Which encryption solution you select totally depends on the requirements of your application. Note that more powerful encryption for larger amounts of data requires a healthy amount of CPU. So, be prepared in the event that that introduction of encryption increases the system load.

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Timothy Smith

Logging SQL Server database errors

May 15, 2018 by

We receive many database alerts with many of the alerts logging some of these same alerts or information to files or tables. What we’ve found over time is that the logging is now costing us quite a bit of resource. Our logging server (where both files and table logging are stored) has had a few outages related to conflicts from messages for other servers. We’ve considered scaling the alerting by environment type, but we’ve also considered that we may be logging too much information about our databases. In addition, since we receive so many alerts each day, it’s impossible for us to resolve them and assist with other issues that arise. What are some techniques that we can use to help us with the issue of too much logging information and too many alerts? Read more »

Dejan Sarka

Data science, data understanding and preparation – entropy of a discrete variable

May 14, 2018 by

In the conclusion of my last article, Data science, data understanding and preparation – binning a continuous variable, I wrote something about preserving the information when you bin a continuous variable to bins with an equal number of cases. I am explaining this sentence in this article you are currently reading. I will show you how to calculate the information stored in a discrete variable by explaining the measure for the information, namely the entropy.

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Prashanth Jayaram

Smart database backups in SQL Server 2017

May 14, 2018 by

So far, we’ve discussed several phases of backup that starts with planning, creating, strategizing and implementing. In this article, we are going to see how database administrators can define the strategy to improve backup performance and efficiently manage backups in SQL Server 2017. The following are the topics of discussion:

  1. Discuss checkpoints
  2. Discuss the enhancements made in the Dynamic Management View (DMV) sys.dm_db_file_space_usage for smart differential backups
  3. Discuss the enhancements made for the Dynamic Management function (DMF) sys.dm_db_log_stats  for smart transactional log backup
  4. Understand the functioning of smart differential backup and its internals
  5. Understand the Smart transaction log backup process and its internals
  6. T-SQL scripts
  7. And more…
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Timothy Smith

Reading file data with PowerShell

May 10, 2018 by

We have some custom files that we receive from different providers and for these situations we are unable to use standard ETL programs without any customization. Since we’re expanding our ability to read these custom files with .NET, we’re looking for efficient ways to read files with PowerShell that we can use in SQL Server Job Agents, Windows Task Schedulers, or with our custom program, which can execute PowerShell scripts. We have many tools for parsing data and wanted to know efficient ways of reading the data for parsing, along with getting specific lines of data from files by number, or by the first or last line of the file. For reading files efficiently, what are some functions or libraries we can use?

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Ahmad Yaseen

Working with different SQL Server indexes types

May 8, 2018 by

In the previous articles of this series (see the full article TOC at bottom), we discussed the internal structure of both SQL Server tables and indexes, the main guidelines that you can follow to design a proper index, the list of operations that can be performed on the SQL Server indexes, and finally how to design effective Clustered and Non-clustered indexes that the SQL Server Query Optimizer will always take benefits from, in speeding up the data retrieval process, which is the main goal of creating an index. In this article, we will go through the different types of SQL Server indexes, above and beyond Clustered and Non-clustered indexes classification, and when to use them.

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Prashanth Jayaram

SqlPackage.exe – Automate SQL Server Database Restoration using bacpac with PowerShell or Batch techniques

May 7, 2018 by

Data is the key to your organization’s future, but if it’s outdated, irrelevant, or hidden then it’s no good. Maintenance and administration of databases takes a lot of work. As database administrators, we often tend to automate most of these repetitive tasks. A database refresh is one of the most common tasks performed by most of the administrators as part of their daily routine.

Today, database refreshes are quite frequent because of Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD). In most of the cases, testing requires a separate but current production dataset to ensure the validity of the desired result.

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Ahmad Yaseen

Designing effective SQL Server non-clustered indexes

May 7, 2018 by

In the previous articles of this series (see below for the full index of articles), we went through the internal structure of SQL Server tables and indexes, listed a number of guidelines that help in designing a proper index, discussed the operations that can be performed on SQL Server indexes and finally showed how to design and create a SQL Server Clustered index to speed up data retrieval operations. In this article, we will see how to design an effective Non-clustered index that will improve the performance of frequently used queries that are not covered with a Clustered index and, in doing so, enhance the overall system performance.

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