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Managing Disk Space

By Steve Jones,

Lately it seems that there are a lot of newer DBAs/developers working with SQL Server. I tend to see these trends in our forums where there are a lot of beginner questions for awhile and then it tapers off. And they are the same types of questions I've been answering for years, so I can get an idea of someone's experience level by which questions they answer.

One of the main topics lately seems to do with database sizing. I see questions on how to estimate space, why is the log so large, how do I shrink a database (you shouldn't), and other similar questions.

I thought this was a fairly basic skill, but perhaps not. So for the Friday poll:

How often should one expand space?

Or how often do you expand space. Do you track usage? Growth? Do you know which tables are growing fastest?

I used to track table sizes over time, so I knew how fast each table was growing. For the most part this turned out to be a waste of time because most tables don't grow much, a few do, and so it didn't make sense to track each table's growth.

However I did think it made sense to track database sizes. I tended to do this by tracking backup sizes for a couple reasons. The first is that comparing the daily backup size to the previous day's allowed me to catch any strange loads of data. If there was more than a 10-20% growth (depending on the db), I raised a flag to myself and would check on things.

The second reason is that it gave me some history that allowed me to plan for space needs for the database. I didn't track server space because databases occassionally get moved to other servers, so the database history is more important.

However for databases, my goal was to guess how much space I'd need for 6 months, add a pad, and then grow the database to that size. That way I didn' have to worry about sizes and could manage the space twice a year. I did have alerts set up to notify me if I was running low on space and autogrow was turned on for emergencies, but my goal was to proactively, albeit rarely, manage the space myself. These days I might shorten that interval and look to actively grow databases every 3-4 months with better tools and larger database sizes.

Let us know what your thoughts are and what techniques you've found that work well.

Steve Jones


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