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Born SQL with Randolph West

Randolph West solves technology problems with a focus on SQL Server and C#. He is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP who has worked with SQL Server since the late 1990s. When not consulting, he can be seen acting on the stage and screen or doing voices for independent video games.

SQL Server 2017 Administration Inside Out

For the last five months or so, I have been helping some really smart people put words on paper, both the physical and electronic kind, which is hopefully going to culminate in an actual technical book that I can point to and say “Yes, that’s the name I invented for… Read more

0 comments, 113 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 15 November 2017

T-SQL Tuesday: The Contributing Factor

Ewald Cress writes: Find a person or several people to pick on, and tell us a shareable story or two about how they have made a positive contribution in your life. I’ve known Ewald for 27 years, though we only met two years ago. It’s wonderful that he is hosting… Read more

0 comments, 122 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 14 November 2017

Is Transparent Data Encryption just security theatre?

I love theatre. In six months I am putting on two one-act plays for a local festival, because I don’t already have enough on my plate. Security theatre, on the other hand, I don’t like. It is security for the sake of appearances, that offers little to no solution to… Read more

3 comments, 170 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 8 November 2017

Gimmicks that work: XE Profiler in SQL Server Management Studio

I have a favourite new feature of SQL Server Management Studio 17.3 (SSMS), and that’s XE Profiler, which allows you to monitor your instance in real time using Extended Events from inside SSMS with just the click of a mouse. So is it Extended Events or Profiler? Let’s talk about… Read more

0 comments, 196 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 1 November 2017

Repair a Windows Server 2016 installation

This is more for my benefit in the future, but hopefully it can help someone else too. We recently had problems with a development server not installing Windows Updates. The fix was to repair the installation using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool. All commands should be run… Read more

0 comments, 180 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 25 October 2017

The perils of RAID

Recently, I was asked to assist an organization with getting their data back for a SQL Server that had experienced physical hard drive failure. I asked a lot of questions about the configuration of the data layer, and it came to light that it was a fairly regular setup. SQL… Read more

0 comments, 468 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 18 October 2017

Why is a value in DATETIME2 8 bytes, but in BINARY it is 9 bytes?

In the #sqlhelp Slack channel on the SQL Server Community Slack workspace last month, Jemma Hooper asked: When trying to CAST or CONVERT a datetime2 value to binary(8), I’m getting a “binary or text data would be truncated” error. This seems really weird in context with the fact that SELECT… Read more

2 comments, 244 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 11 October 2017

Changes to Service Packs and Cumulative Updates for SQL Server 2017

For a few years now, Microsoft has augmented its irregular release of Service Packs with a more frequent Cumulative Update model, in order to get bug fixes and other improvements to customers faster. With SQL Server 2017, which runs on both Linux and Windows (as well as Docker containers for… Read more

0 comments, 239 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 4 October 2017

Compañero Conference and SQL Modernization Roadshow

October is a busy month for me. I am flying all over the US and Canada for speaking engagements to share some thoughts about migrating your SQL Server environment to the cloud (specifically Azure). Compañero Conference I will be presenting at the Compañero Conference, which takes place over two days,… Read more

0 comments, 163 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 27 September 2017

Does rebuilding my clustered index also rebuild my non-clustered indexes?

I’ve been working with SQL Server for many years now, and up until recently, I assumed that rebuilding any clustered index would cause non-clustered indexes to be rebuilt as well, because the non-clustered index includes the clustered index in it. This assumption is wrong. On SQL Server 2000, this only… Read more

0 comments, 223 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 20 September 2017

A trillion and one

Joe Obbish wrote an epic post a few weeks ago about loading a trillion rows into a non-partitioned table in SQL Server, using a clustered columnstore index to maximise the compression. (Short version: it’s very slow to query. Don’t do it. Bad things happen. I have an ongoing investigation with… Read more

0 comments, 290 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 13 September 2017

Connect Windows 10 client to a VPN on Windows Server 2012 R2

I got a strange request in a Slack channel the other day. A colleague in South Africa, who uses Windows, was unable to connect to our VPN (Virtual Private Network). We use the built-in VPN on Windows Server 2012 R2, which makes it extremely convenient to manage per-user security without… Read more

0 comments, 187 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 6 September 2017

What you need to know about memory limits on SQL Server

Last week, I posted this statement on Twitter, along with a screen capture of the official Microsoft documentation: Reminder: Max Server Memory is *not* just for the buffer pool. The RAM limit Standard Edition can use *is* just for the buffer pool. Joey D’Antoni was quick to remind me that… Read more

0 comments, 66 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 30 August 2017

Speaking at SQLSaturday #635 in Vancouver this weekend

This coming weekend, at SQLSaturday #635 in Vancouver BC, I will be presenting a brand new talk about Temporal Tables, one of my favourite features of SQL Server 2016+ and Azure SQL Database. If you are in the area, and still have not decided to attend, I strongly recommend making… Read more

0 comments, 36 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 23 August 2017

Microsoft presents: MySQL and PostgreSQL?

For the longest time, MySQL has been the recommended database platform for blogs and other websites. It’s free. It’s available on every version of Linux, which is the most common web server platform. If you need something more complex but still free, there’s PostgreSQL. But there’s a lot going on… Read more

0 comments, 40 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 16 August 2017

This is how I recovered from a catastrophic failure

I was fresh off the boat* from South Africa, working in a small computer store in an equally small town in Saskatchewan. Five days a week in winter, six days a week in summer, mainly removing malware from laptops, selling new computers (which is why I’m happy to recommend Asus… Read more

0 comments, 39 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 9 August 2017

Locks, Blocks, and Isolation Levels

Last week we looked at ACID compliance. This week we dive a little deeper into the Isolation portion, and what it all means. Isolation levels work to manage how my transactions may be isolated from your transactions, to allow concurrency. They work by locking sections of the database until a… Read more

0 comments, 39 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 2 August 2017

Acids and Databases: A look at ACID and transactions

Relational database management systems (RDBMS) such as SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, and PostgreSQL use transactions to allow concurrent users to select, insert, update, and delete data without affecting everyone else. An RDBMS is considered ACID-compliant if it can guarantee data integrity during transactions under the following conditions: ACID Atomic –… Read more

0 comments, 38 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 26 July 2017

What is a good Disaster Recovery Plan?

During a Q&A session I hosted at our local Calgary SQL Server User Group last month, one of the attendees mentioned an interview question he’d had and wanted to hear my thoughts. How would you design a disaster recovery solution for a 1 TB database, using Simple Recovery Model? Replication… Read more

5 comments, 34 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 19 July 2017

Be Wary of Date Formatting in T-SQL

Today’s public service announcement is a reminder to be wary of date formatting in SQL Server. On a recent mailing list discussion, one person demonstrated the following code (which I’ve adapted for this post): SET LANGUAGE 'us_english'; GO DECLARE @StartDate DATETIME = '2017-07-12'; SELECT @StartDate; GO DECLARE @StartDate DATE =… Read more

2 comments, 36 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 12 July 2017

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