Top 10 Learning Resources for Accidental DBAs

So what should you do if you are an “accidental DBA”, who ends up dealing with SQL Server in some capacity on a regular basis without the benefit of any training or experience?  What if you are what I like to call a “captive DBA”, because you must install, maintain, and support some other Microsoft product (such as Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft System Center, Lync Server, Team Foundation Server, etc.) that uses SQL Server as a data store? Perhaps you have some third party applications or internal applications that use SQL Server as a data store?  If you find yourself in this situation, you are not completely alone in your cubicle or office, with only your favorite search engine for help. There are plenty of good resources out there where you can get help and learn more about SQL Server. Even if you are not planning on becoming a dedicated SQL Server professional, there are a number of ways to get immediate help and to start learning enough to get your job done.

Luckily, there is a large and vibrant “SQL Server Community” that is more than willing to help each other out, both online and in person. There are many different ways to learn more about SQL Server, depending on what works for you. One of the first things you should do is get a free account on Twitter, and start using it. You should follow some SQL Server people, and start participating so you get to know people and they get to know you. You can use the #sqlhelp hash tag on Twitter to get expert help within minutes. You can post questions on the various SQL Server-related forums to get more detailed help that may take a little longer.  As you use these resources, be polite, and try not to annoy people right off the bat.  Saying please and thank you, and not arguing too much make a world of difference when it comes to getting help on Twitter and in the forums.

It is also a good idea to read a few blog posts related to SQL Server every day. You can use your favorite RSS reader to subscribe to a number of blogs and see what interests you. I think it is also valuable to buy a few books about SQL Server, and actually read them. There are also a number of different training resources, both online and in-person, that you can use to learn more about SQL Server. I have listed a few of these various resources below, to help get you started.



WeFollow – SQLServer (Good list of some of the better known SQL Server people on Twitter)

#sqlhelp Hash Tag on Twitter (Good advice from Brent Ozar on how to use the #sqlhelp hashtag on Twitter)


MSDN SQL Server Forums

SQLServerCentral Forums

Stack Overflow Forums

Server Fault Forums


SQL Server Blogger Rankings (Thomas LaRock’s blogger rankings list)

Microsoft TechNet SQL Server Blog List (List of SQL Server-related blogs compiled by Microsoft)

SQLServerCentral Bloggers (Blogs that are syndicated to SQLServerCentral)

SQLBlog Bloggers (Blogs that are syndicated to SQLBlog)


SQL Server Books for DBAs (Thomas LaRock’s list of recommended SQL Server books)

Troubleshooting SQL Server – A Guide for the Accidental DBA (Excellent book on how to configure, monitor and troubleshoot SQL Server)

DBA Survivor: Become a Rock Star DBA (Great career guidance for new DBAs)

SQL Server Hardware (My book on how to select and configure hardware and how to install and configure SQL Server)

Professional SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting (Classic book about how to diagnose and troubleshoot performance and other problems with SQL Server 2008)

Professional SQL Server 2012 Internals and Troubleshooting (Completely new version for SQL Server 2012)

Training Resources

SQLSaturday Events (Free training events that are held on Saturdays around the world)

SQLskills Free Online MCM Training Videos (Great learning resource even if you are not interested in the MCM certification)

Pluralsight SQL Server Courses (High quality, affordable online training)

SQLskills Immersion Events (Extremely deep technical training from SQLskills)

5 thoughts on “Top 10 Learning Resources for Accidental DBAs

  1. Great list, Glenn!

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The first website I started learning to be a better DBA from (long, long time ago) was SQLSkills.com. I attended as much SQLSkills training as I could when I worked at Microsoft, and eventually attended the next to last rotation of the three week on-site MCM program, much of which was taught by Paul and Kimberly. And to top it off, SQLSkills.com is still my number 1 learning resource.

  2. Can anyone please suggest me a book of ms sql server. It should contain basics to advanced topics.
    I am a beginner..

    1. When dealing with SQL Server, any of the Microsoft MCTS Exam books should help. I am currently slogging through 70-448 Microsoft SQL Server 2008 – Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance. A lot more advanced than I would recommend for someone who is wondering what SQL is, but if you have installed SQL 2008 or above on your machine and have a bit of knowledge in SQL, it is written so you can reproduce the labs and maybe get a hint of SQL design concepts.

      Do find documentation on normalization, what it means, its benefits, and how to design a normalized DB first. That will give you an idea of what normalization rules are thrown out the window when using BI and why it is done there. (For instance one cardinal normalization rule “No derived information”!! EVERYTHING in BI is derived information!)

      Most normalization rules apply in and out of BI, like “no duplication of data” and they are very valuable because they explain mistakes made earlier in the evolution of data storage techniques.

  3. I dare say that our blog about Java, SQL and jOOQ might have a couple of interesting insights for Java developers who are eager to learn more about SQL. Some examples:

    10 Common Mistakes Java Developers Make when Writing SQL

    10 More Common Mistakes Java Developers Make when Writing SQL

    Crazy Translations of Simple SQL Expressions to Various SQL Dialects

    SQL Query Transformation Fun: Predicates with Row Value Expressions

    Great list, by the way. I think we should feature your blog from a post of ours.

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