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Where Do You Go for Authoritative SQL Server Best Practices?

By Brad McGehee,

In early 2000, I started a new DBA job with a large organization, as their first full-time SQL Server DBA. My first job was to clean up the mess left by several accidental DBAs who had gone before me, and who had implemented several SQL Server instances without really knowing what they were doing.

I was still a relative novice myself, at the time, so I began researching a set of recommended best practices that could be adopted on all of the SQL Server instances that I managed. The problem I ran into was the scarcity of online SQL Server resources; I compiled my SQL Server Best Practices document almost exclusively from Books Online, a few published books, the occasional conference presentation, and what I learned from my own experience. I made the rather naïve assumption that everything I read was essentially "correct". Of course, I soon learned the hard way that this is not always the case.

Now jump ahead to 2011. There is now a vast amount of SQL Server information and 'best practice' advice available on the Internet, in the form of innumerable blogs, community sites and forums. Finding an answer to your question is much easier now than it was in 2000, but finding the right (or best) answer is harder than ever. Not only is there a huge amount of information to sift through, but the quality of that information ranges from top notch all the way down to very bad.

For novice DBAs, this is a tremendous problem. Even experienced DBAs still need to rely on the advice of others, in areas outside their realm of expertise. So, how do we separate the wheat from the chaff? I am fortunate in that I've been involved with the SQL Server community for a long time, and I've built up a strong network of people, blogs, and websites that I trust and to which I turn first when I need help. Even given this, however, I am smart enough now to know that not every best practice fits every situation, so I always test the advice, even of those I trust, just to be sure that it works well in my environment.

So my questions to you are these: where do you go to find best practice advice? What books, websites, blogs, and other sources do you trust the most, and why? Do you ever take this advice at face value, or do you always test it to ensure that it works well in your environment? Share with us you experiences so that we can all learn from it.

Brad M McGehee

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