10 sp_msforeachdb Best Practices

sp_msforeachdb is a powerful tool for running queries against multiple databases, but it can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Here are 10 best practices for using sp_msforeachdb.

sp_msforeachdb is a stored procedure in Microsoft SQL Server that allows you to execute a command or a set of commands against all databases in a server. This can be a very useful tool when you need to execute a command on all databases in a server.

However, there are certain best practices that you should follow when using sp_msforeachdb. In this article, we will discuss 10 best practices that you should consider when using sp_msforeachdb. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your code is secure, efficient, and reliable.

1. Ensure that the user running sp_msforeachdb has appropriate permissions on all databases

When using sp_msforeachdb, the user running it needs to have permissions on all databases in order for the command to execute successfully. Without these permissions, the command will fail and any tasks that need to be performed across multiple databases won’t be completed.

To ensure that the user has appropriate permissions, they should be granted access to each database individually. This can be done by granting them the db_owner role or specific permissions such as SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, EXECUTE, etc. It’s important to note that if a user is granted the db_owner role, they will have full control over the database and its objects.

It’s also important to consider the security implications of granting users access to multiple databases. If the user doesn’t need access to certain databases, then it’s best to avoid granting them access. Additionally, when granting access to multiple databases, it’s recommended to use Windows Authentication instead of SQL Server authentication. This helps to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive data.

2. Test the command in a development environment before executing it in production

Testing the command in a development environment allows you to identify any potential issues with the code before it is executed in production. This can help prevent unexpected errors or performance problems that could have an adverse effect on your production system.

When testing the command, it’s important to use a database that closely resembles the production environment. This will ensure that the results of the test are as accurate as possible and that any issues identified during the test can be addressed before executing the command in production.

It’s also important to thoroughly review the output of the command after running it in the development environment. This will allow you to verify that the command is working as expected and that there are no unexpected results. If any issues are identified, they should be addressed before executing the command in production.

3. Backup the database before running sp_msforeachdb

When running sp_msforeachdb, it is possible to make changes to the databases that are being iterated over. This could be anything from adding a column to deleting data. If something goes wrong during the process, these changes can cause serious issues with the database and its contents.

Backing up the database before running sp_msforeachdb ensures that if any of these changes do go wrong, you have a backup of the original state of the database. This allows you to restore the database back to its original state without having to manually undo all of the changes made by sp_msforeachdb.

To back up the database before running sp_msforeachdb, you can use either SQL Server Management Studio or Transact-SQL commands. In SSMS, right click on the database in question and select “Back Up…”. You will then be able to specify where the backup should be stored and what type of backup it should be (full, differential, etc.). Alternatively, you can use the BACKUP DATABASE command in T-SQL to create a backup of the database.

4. Monitor the execution of sp_msforeachdb and its output

When using sp_msforeachdb, it is important to monitor the execution of the command and its output. This helps ensure that the command runs as expected and produces the desired results. Monitoring also allows for quick identification of any errors or unexpected behavior.

To monitor the execution of sp_msforeachdb, one should use a tool such as SQL Profiler. This will allow you to capture the T-SQL statements being executed by sp_msforeachdb, as well as any error messages that may be generated. Additionally, it can be useful to log the output of sp_msforeachdb in a table so that it can be reviewed later if needed.

5. Include an error handling routine to handle any errors encountered while running sp_msforeachdb

When running sp_msforeachdb, it is possible to encounter errors due to the nature of the command. These errors can range from syntax errors to permission issues and more. Without an error handling routine in place, these errors will go unnoticed and could cause serious problems down the line.

An error handling routine should be included in order to catch any errors that may occur while running sp_msforeachdb. This routine should include a TRY/CATCH block which will capture any errors that are encountered during execution. The CATCH block should then log the error message and provide details about what went wrong. This information can then be used to troubleshoot the issue and ensure that the script runs successfully.

6. When using sp_msforeachdb, always use WITH NOEXEC option first to check the syntax of the query

The WITH NOEXEC option allows the user to check the syntax of the query without actually executing it. This is important because if there are any errors in the syntax, the query will not be executed and no changes will be made to the database. It also helps to ensure that the query is written correctly before running it on multiple databases.

Using the WITH NOEXEC option is simple. All you have to do is add the keyword “NOEXEC” after the sp_msforeachdb command. For example: EXEC sp_msforeachdb ‘SELECT * FROM [?].dbo.TableName’ WITH NOEXEC. This will display the results of the query without actually executing it. If there are any errors in the syntax, they will be displayed instead of the results. Once the syntax has been corrected, the query can then be run with the WITHOUT NOEXEC option.

7. Avoid using sp_msforeachdb for complex queries or operations which require multiple steps

The main reason for this is that sp_msforeachdb can only execute a single command against each database. This means that if the query or operation requires multiple steps, it will need to be broken down into individual commands and executed separately. This can lead to errors in the execution of the query or operation, as well as making it difficult to debug any issues which may arise.

To avoid these problems, it’s best to use other methods such as cursors or dynamic SQL when executing complex queries or operations across multiple databases. Cursors allow you to iterate through each database one at a time, allowing you to execute multiple commands on each database before moving onto the next. Dynamic SQL allows you to construct and execute a query dynamically, meaning you can build up the query based on the data from each database. Both of these methods are more reliable than using sp_msforeachdb for complex queries or operations.

8. If possible, avoid using sp_msforeachdb with large numbers of databases

Using sp_msforeachdb with large numbers of databases can be inefficient and time-consuming. It will take longer to execute the query, as it has to loop through each database in order to complete its task. This can also lead to performance issues on the server, as the query is running for a long period of time.

It’s best to avoid using sp_msforeachdb with large numbers of databases by breaking up the query into smaller chunks. For example, if you need to run a query against 100 databases, break it up into 10 queries that each run against 10 databases. This way, the query will only have to loop through 10 databases at a time, which will make it much more efficient and less likely to cause any performance issues.

Additionally, when using sp_msforeachdb with large numbers of databases, it’s important to use caution and test the query thoroughly before executing it. Make sure to check the results of the query after each execution to ensure that it ran correctly and didn’t cause any unexpected errors or issues.

9. Consider using sp_msforeachtable instead of sp_msforeachdb when possible

The main difference between sp_msforeachtable and sp_msforeachdb is that the former operates on tables within a single database, while the latter works across multiple databases. This means that when using sp_msforeachdb, you are running your query against all of the databases in the instance, which can be time consuming and resource intensive.

On the other hand, if you use sp_msforeachtable, you will only run the query against the tables in the current database, making it much more efficient. Additionally, since sp_msforeachtable is limited to one database at a time, it allows for better control over what data is being accessed and modified.

10. Make sure to include a WHERE clause when using sp_msforeachdb

The WHERE clause is used to filter the databases that sp_msforeachdb will run against. Without it, sp_msforeachdb will execute on all of the databases in the instance, which can be a huge performance hit and cause unexpected results.

For example, if you are running an UPDATE statement with sp_msforeachdb, but forget to include a WHERE clause, then your UPDATE statement will run on every database in the instance, including system databases like master or msdb. This could have unintended consequences, such as corrupting data or causing other errors.

To avoid this, make sure to always include a WHERE clause when using sp_msforeachdb. The syntax for the WHERE clause is “WHERE [condition]”, where condition is any valid SQL Server expression. For example, you might use “WHERE name NOT IN (‘master’, ‘model’, ‘msdb’)” to exclude system databases from the query. You can also use wildcards to match multiple databases at once, such as “WHERE name LIKE ‘MyDatabase%’”.


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