10 SQL Server Maintenance Plan Best Practices

SQL Server maintenance is important to keep your databases running smoothly. Here are 10 best practices to follow.

SQL Server maintenance plans are a great way to automate routine maintenance tasks. However, if they are not configured properly, they can cause more problems than they solve. In this article, we will discuss 10 best practices for SQL Server maintenance plans. By following these best practices, you can be sure that your maintenance plans are doing more good than harm.

1. Use Ola Hallengren’s Maintenance Solution

Ola Hallengren’s Maintenance Solution is a free, open-source SQL Server maintenance solution that offers much more comprehensive maintenance than the out-of-the-box maintenance plans. It includes options for index optimization, integrity checks, and backup operations, and it gives you more control over when and how these operations are performed.

Additionally, Ola Hallengren’s Maintenance Solution is much easier to set up and use than the out-of-the-box maintenance plans. Simply download the scripts and run them in your database, and you’re ready to go.

If you’re not using Ola Hallengren’s Maintenance Solution for your SQL Server maintenance plans, you should be. It’s one of the best ways to ensure your database is properly maintained.

2. Back Up Your Databases Regularly

Backing up your databases gives you a way to recover your data if something goes wrong. For example, if your database is corrupted or deleted, you can restore it from a backup.

Backing up your databases also allows you to upgrade your SQL Server without losing any data. For example, if you’re upgrading from SQL Server 2008 to SQL Server 2012, you can back up your databases before the upgrade and then restore them after the upgrade is complete.

Finally, backing up your databases gives you a way to test changes to your database without affecting production data. For example, you can back up your database, make changes to the copy of the database, and then restore the copy if the changes don’t work out.

There are many ways to back up your databases, but one of the easiest ways is to use a maintenance plan. Maintenance plans allow you to schedule backups and automate the process.

3. Rebuild Indexes and Update Statistics

Over time, as data is added, deleted, and modified in a database, indexes can become fragmented. This can cause performance issues as SQL Server has to work harder to find the data it needs. By rebuilding indexes, you can eliminate fragmentation and improve performance.

It’s also important to keep statistics up to date. Statistics are used by the query optimizer to help it choose the best execution plan for queries. If statistics are out of date, the optimizer may not be able to make the best choices, which can lead to sub-optimal performance.

Updating statistics can be done automatically as part of a maintenance plan or manually when needed.

4. Shrink Database Files When Necessary

Over time, as data is added and deleted from a database, the physical files that make up the database can become fragmented. This fragmentation can cause performance issues, as the SQL Server will take longer to access the data it needs.

Shrinking the database files will defragment them, and can help improve performance. However, it’s important to only shrink the files when necessary, as shrinking them too often can actually cause more fragmentation.

Additionally, it’s generally best to let the SQL Server autogrow the files as needed, rather than pre-allocating a large amount of space that may never be used.

5. Check the Integrity of Your Databases

The integrity of your databases is essential for the proper functioning of your applications. If the data in your databases is corrupt, it can lead to data loss and application downtime.

Database corruption can occur for a variety of reasons, including hardware failures, software bugs, and human error. To prevent database corruption, you should regularly check the integrity of your databases and take corrective action if any problems are found.

There are two ways to check the integrity of your databases: manually or using a tool.

To check the integrity of your databases manually, you can use the DBCC CHECKDB command. This command will scan your databases for errors and report any problems that are found.

If you want to automate the process of checking the integrity of your databases, you can use a tool such as SQL Safe Backup. SQL Safe Backup is a backup and recovery solution that includes a database integrity checker.

SQL Safe Backup will scan your databases for errors and report any problems that are found. It can also automatically fix some types of errors, such as orphaned users.

You can download a free trial of SQL Safe Backup from the Idera website.

6. Perform a Consistency Check on Your Databases

A consistency check verifies that the physical structure of your database files are consistent with the logical structure of your databases. In other words, it checks to make sure that your data is stored correctly on disk and that there are no corruptions.

If you don’t perform a consistency check on your databases, you run the risk of data corruption. Data corruption can lead to data loss, which can be devastating for your business.

Fortunately, SQL Server makes it easy to perform a consistency check with its built-in DBCC CHECKDB command. Simply schedule a SQL Server maintenance plan to run this command on a regular basis, and you’ll be able to rest assured knowing that your databases are healthy and free of corruption.

7. Clean Up History Data

When you create a maintenance plan, SQL Server automatically generates a _MaintenancePlan_ database in the MSDB system database. This is where all of the information about your maintenance plan is stored, including a history of what has been run and when.

Over time, this history data can start to take up a lot of space and slow down performance. Therefore, it’s important to regularly clean up this data to keep your maintenance plans running smoothly.

One way to do this is to use the _Maintenance Cleanup Task_, which is included in most maintenance plans by default. This task will delete all history data older than a certain number of days.

Alternatively, you can write your own custom SQL query to delete the data you don’t need. Just be sure to back up your MSDB database first!

8. Monitor SQL Server Error Logs

The SQL Server error log is a goldmine of information. It can tell you about database corruptions, failed backups, login failures, and much more. By monitoring the error log, you can proactively address issues before they cause problems.

There are two ways to monitor the error log. The first is to use SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). Simply right-click on the SQL Server instance and select “Configure Management Data Warehouse.” This will open up a wizard that will guide you through the process of setting up a data warehouse for your SQL Server instance.

Once the data warehouse is set up, you can create a SQL Server Agent job that will query the error log and send you an email if it finds any errors.

The second way to monitor the error log is to use a third-party tool like ApexSQL Log. ApexSQL Log will allow you to view, search, and filter the SQL Server error log. You can also set up alerts so that you’re notified immediately if there’s an error in the log.

9. Take Advantage of Automation

Automation can help you save time by eliminating the need to manually create and schedule maintenance plans. Automation can also help you ensure that your maintenance plans are executed consistently and as intended.

There are a number of ways to automate SQL Server maintenance plans. For example, you can use the Maintenance Plan Wizard to automatically generate maintenance plans. You can also use PowerShell scripts to automate the creation and scheduling of maintenance plans.

Additionally, there are a number of third-party tools that offer automation capabilities for SQL Server maintenance plans. These tools can help you further streamline and simplify the process of creating and managing maintenance plans.

10. Keep an Eye on Your Disk Space

If your disk space gets too low, it can cause all sorts of problems for SQL Server. For one thing, if the database files are stored on the same drive as the operating system, a low disk condition can cause the server to crash. Additionally, low disk space can cause performance issues and data corruption.

To avoid these problems, make sure you monitor your disk space regularly and add more storage as needed. You can use the Windows built-in tools, such as the Task Manager, to do this, or you can use a third-party tool. Either way, make sure you keep an eye on your disk space and add more storage before it becomes an issue.


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