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A SQL Server Log Reader

By Steve Jones,

One of the regular problems that data professionals have to deal with is the whoops disaster, or some type of data entry error. It could be the DBA running a delete without a WHERE clause, or a user updating a bunch of data incorrectly. No matter what the cause, this is a problem that you will deal with multiple times in your career. There are a few tools available that will read the SQL Server transaction log and build reversing transactions, but there are few, mostly because there's just no money in the tools. People don't need the tools often, and when they do, they are likely to just download an evaluation, fix their issue and not purchase the tool or struggle to undo the damage. As an aside, if you are still working with SQL Server 2000, Red Gate has released our Log Rescue tool for free.

With every new version of SQL Server, there's a lot of effort spent on building new features and enhancing old ones. Marketing and sales drive a lot of resource decisions in product development, and that makes a lot of sense. But it doesn't mean that there isn't value in plugging holes inside of the platform and making SQL Server easier to work with.

A log reader tool would not be that hard to build and include in SQL Server. I'm sure Microsoft could build and release limited versions that might deconstruct certain types of statements, or might only read transaction log backups. I bet this would be a great intern project, allowing the very talented youth that spend a semester or two at Microsoft the chance to make an actual impact on the product. Back-ports to previous versions of SQL Server could be done with very little cost to Microsft, provide customers with a valuable tool, and allow college students to prove they are worthy of a future job working on the product.

The ecosystem around Microsoft products is important, both for the growth of the platform as well as filling customers' needs. Log readers, however, are not economical separate products. They ought to be incorporated into the platform, filling a hole that would greatly benefit lots of DBAs and developers who deal with incorrect data updates every day.

Steve Jones


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