Just over two years ago, right before PASS Summit 2009, I got the insane idea after finishing Chapter 3 for the SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting book that I wanted to write another book based on my experiences answering questions on the MSDN forums that would be based on the top 10 most frequently asked questions that I had seen over the years repeatedly.  At the time I had no idea how to contact a publisher (the Wrox book was handled entirely by Christian Bolton and I was honored to be asked to contribute Chapter 3 to it). I didn’t want to write this book for profit, and I really liked the way that Redgate and SimpleTalk publishing gave away free copies of the books that they published at events as well as online eBooks that could be downloaded for free.  At PASS I asked Grant Fritchey how he got hooked up with SimpleTalk to publish his book on Execution Plans, and he introduced me to the editor at Redgate, Tony Davis, who really liked the idea behind the book, and within weeks of PASS finishing, I was fast at work outlining chapters and writing the beginnings of what would ultimately become Troubleshooting SQL Server: A Guide for the Accidental DBA.

While the title of this says that it is a Guide for the Accidental DBA, the the book is far more in-depth than just covering the basics. The first chapter in the book provides a methodology for troubleshooting problems in SQL Server that I use every day while working on client machines, and that I have used time and again over the last 6 years that I have been a DBA for SQL Server.  One of the key points that we try to make clear in this chapter is that a problem is rarely identified correctly based on a single piece of information. Appropriate identification of the root cause of a problem is critical in applying the appropriate fix, and this chapter covers how to look at all the available information that SQL Server provides to find the root cause of a problem as fast as possible.   A slightly modified for web preview of the first chapter is available on the SimpleTalk website as an article titled A Performance Troubleshooting Methodology for SQL Server.  This chapter sets up the content for the remainder of the book, and the remaining chapters target specific problem areas that we see repeatedly on the various forums online.

  • High Disk I/O –RAID misconfiguration, inadequate I/O throughput, poor workload distribution, SAN issues, disk partition misalignment and more
  • High CPU usage –insufficient memory, poorly written queries, inadequate indexing, inappropriate configuration option settings, and so on
  • Memory mismanagement – the advent of 64-bit SQL Server removes the memory allocation "shackles" placed on its 32-bit predecessors, but issues arising from incorrect memory configuration are still common
  • Missing indexes – arguably the number one cause of wasteful resource usage in SQL Server
  • Blocking – caused mainly by poorly designed databases that lack proper keys and indexing, and applications that apply needlessly restrictive transaction isolation levels
  • Deadlocking – covering the Bookmark Lookup deadlock, the Serializable Range Scan deadlock, the Cascading Constraint deadlock and more
  • Full transaction logs – lack of log backups, hefty index maintenance operations, long running transaction, problems with replication and mirroring environments, and more.
  • Accidentally-lost data – "oops, wrong database!" Let’s hope you’ve got backups!

This book would have never made it to print if it weren’t for the amazing efforts of the other people involved in the project.  The technical editor for the book was Gail Shaw, I will never understand how she was able to work this into her busy schedule.  When I had to pick a technical editor for the book, the depth of content made it incredibly hard to choose the right person to work with.  Luckily Gail agreed to take on the task and I am forever indebted to her for all of the ideas, additional content, and the countless hours she has worked over the last month and a half while we sprinted to the finish to have the book in print by PASS 2011. The coauthor of the book, Ted Krueger, agreed to step in to help by writing two of the chapters last year after I had fallen behind on the writing repeatedly, and made it possible for the book to be copy complete in time for PASS.  Last but absolutely not least is the editor Tony Davis, who has an amazing amount of patience and has probably spent more time on phone calls trying to work through copy and technical edits to provide clarity to the information being presented.