Creating a Performance Monitor Black Box

One thing that we always set up on a new server is a Performance Monitor “black box”. The black box is basically a PerfMon collector that starts when the server does and runs continuously on the background, gathering performance data from number of vital counters. It has minimal performance overhead and is great at giving you a good idea on what has been going on in your servers during the last several days.

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Distributed Replay

Distributed Replay is a feature that was first introduced with SQL Server 2012. It allows you to play a set of recorded transactions against a SQL Server database. This can be extremely useful if you’re doing hardware or SQL Server version upgrades and want to test the performance impacts of these changes, or if they’re going to break your application.

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Poor results in I/O tests due to Windows Task Scheduler settings

Not a long ago I was doing a database cluster delivery to one of our customers and as a part of that process, I scheduled our regular set of test runs for the storage. The results of the tests we ran were bad and none of the changes we did at the SAN weren’t helping. After a while we figured out that the issue was not in the test software or at the SAN but in the scheduled tasks we used to run the different test!

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Review: sp_WhoIsActive

This is definitely one of the most used tools in my toolkit. Besides being incredibly useful when you need to figure out issues like blocking and locking and what the transactions are doing, you should take a few long moments to look at the code. The code extensively commented making it easy to follow and to understand what different parameters do. Also Adam has some serious T-SQL skills so going through the code is a great way to improve your own skills as well!

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Tools of the Trade.

Most DBAs have their own favorite set of tools and utilities they like to use and so do I. In this blog series, I’ll be introducing you to my favorite tools of the trade. Most of these utilities are made by the members of SQL Server community and all of these have one thing in common, they are free. While people often turn to commercial solutions (if they have the budget to do so), I would consider the following free tools essential for anyone working with databases or database servers.

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PerfMon tips, tricks and a single annoying quirk

Figuring out possible causes for performance issues is one of the core skills for any DBA. There’s a whole bunch of tools for it, but this time I’ll be writing about one of my favorites. The Performance Monitor (PerfMon), which is included in every version and edition of Windows Servers and workstations. PerfMon and I go back a long way and we have had a most satisfying relationship so far. Naturally there have been some rocky spots over the years, but we have never drifted apart.

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