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Database Tools

Recently I have posted a couple of articles about various database or SQL tools either for maintenance or for benchmarking.  Those posts work well in conjunction with a post several months back that you can read here.  These posts made me think a bit harder about the tools that I use to do the job.

In thinking about those tools, I realized that I did not have a list of what I have used or do currently use.  Thus, I went through an exercise compiling my list of tools.  Some of these tools are currently in use, some are items that I have used in the past and was impressed by the tool.  And someday in the future I will finish compiling the list of all of the tools that I have encountered over the past year or two that I have intended to test.

Without further adieu:

  1. SSMS Addins – This is available on codeplex.  One of the features that intrigues me is the ability to script out the data from the table.
  2. OpenDBDiff - This one seems to have promise.  Similar in function to Visual Studio 2010 or RedGate SQL compare tools, this one is free and compares the schema and objects.  If you are on a tight budget and need to be able to compare two databases, this just might be the tool to try.
  3. SQL Monitor – A tool to monitor various things in SQL Server like jobs and executing queries.  Kind of low-level, but I figured I would test this app out and see if it had some merit.
  4. SQL nexus – This is a tool to help evaluate performance issues with SQL Server.  You can evaluate wait stats along with PSSDiag files.
  5. SQL Powershell Extensions – I recently learned of this tool on Codeplex.  This is a high priority item for me to download and test.  This tool helps to create “intuitive functions around the SMO objects.”
  6. PowerShellPack - Download from Microsoft to enhance the powershell experience.
  7. Data Dictionary – This software is on my list to evaluate.  It is mostly out of curiosity because I have something in place to create data dictionaries already.  This tool allows you to update the extended properties from a GUI.
  8. US Census Data – I think this one is intriguing as a sample data set.
  9. SQL Schema Source Control – This is an SVN plugin
  10. ScriptDB4SVn - Another SVN Plugin to get your database projects into source control.
  11. SQL Source Control (RedGate) – Do you detect a theme going on now?  This is a commercial product to integrate into SVN or TFS.  It integrates into SSMS and has received many great reviews.  I have seen it in use and it is a good product.
  12. SQL Diagnostic Manager (Idera) – I used this tool a lot a few years back.  The tool has gotten better since.  I need to get another license for it and try it again.
  13. Confio Ignite – I was a part of a focus group testing this tool.  I was highly impressed by the tool.  Ignite allows you to gather waitstats and other diagnostic information to monitor the health of the server.  I would highly recommend this tool.
  14. TOAD (Quest Software) – I used this tool a few years ago and liked it.  This tool is useful for determining quickly the alternatives to writing your query in a few different ways and to view the performance impact of those changes.
  15. DBA Bundle and Developer Bundle (RedGate) – Alternatively, you could look for the Toolbelt by RedGate.  The Bundles are chock full of high value great tools to do the job.
  16. SQL Scripts Manager – This is a collection of Scripts from various contributors that has been made available for free by our friends at RedGate.
  17. Dr. DMV – Glenn Alan Berry has some awesome scripts for use on your 2005 and 2008 servers.  These scripts utilize greatly the DMVs in SQL Server.
  18. DBA Dashboard – This is a set of reports put together to help you identify resource usage and the source of that resource consumption.
  19. SQLPing3 – Security type tool to help you discover SQL Servers on the network.
  20. Discovery Wizard for SQL Server (Quest Software) – A tool to help discover SQL Instances on the network.
  21. SQLCentric - By Robert Pearl, this tool is a web based monitoring and alerting tool for your SQL Servers.
  22. Power Architect – I used this tool largely for helping to document some data models.  This is a reasonably priced tool and it works quite well.
  23. SQLIO - This one is from our friends at Microsoft and I think the name explains it.
  24. SQLIOSim - Another tool from Microsoft that I think the name explains it.
  25. IOMeter – Another IO tool
  26. GeekBench - This tool will quickly measure processor and memory and provide some benchmarks.
  27. Plan Explorer (SQLSentry) – I find this tool extremely useful.  The execution plans are much easier to read in this tool than in SSMS.  I use both to compare and contrast and am able to more quickly ascertain the pain points of a query.  The readability of Plan Explorer is great and the additional features really help augment your abilities to query tune based on Execution Plans.

There you have it!  That is quite the list.  I don’t have all of these installed but would recommend trying some of the items out and getting them in your toolbox.  A good recommendation would be to install them into a virtual machine while you are testing the software.  One of my goals for the year is to actually get all of my preferred tools installed into a VM that I can port with me.  By doing so, then I would have them readily available with little to no downtime while trying to install them.

If you have any tools that you think are great and should be in the DB Professional toolbox, please leave a comment or drop me a note.


Posted by Dukagjin Maloku on 17 March 2011

Awesome post, Jason! - thanks for sharing.

Posted by Dukagjin Maloku on 17 March 2011

As I can see, the SSMS Tools Pack is missing - this is the very nice add-in for SSMS from Mladen Parajdic check here >> http://www.ssmstoolspack.com/ and if you want you can add to your list!

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 17 March 2011

Thanks - great feedback.  I knew I was missing something along the way.

Posted by Virgil Rucsandescu on 17 March 2011

Thank you for this awesome post!

I think maybe you should add Adam Machanic's sp_whoIsAcive too?

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 17 March 2011

Yes, that is an excellent script to add to the toolbox.

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 17 March 2011

Here is another set of scripts by Glenn Alan Berry


Diagnostic Information Queries - check it out.

Posted by Glenn Berry on 18 March 2011

Thanks for the mention, Jason. Good list of tools you have put together.

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 18 March 2011

You're welcome Glenn

Posted by jezemine on 20 March 2011

Here's one I wrote for creating data dictionaries: http://elsasoft.org - it supports SQL Server and over a dozen other DBMS.

Posted by Dr. Think on 20 March 2011

There is aslo one neat free plugin for SSMS that shows table coulmns, comments, idexes etc: http://www.sqlxdetails.com

Posted by Eric M Russell on 21 March 2011

I tend to leverage visual file comparison tools on an almost daily basis. I use it to compare not just schemas and versions of SQL scripts but also datasets. For example, whenever I make a change to a stored procedure that returns a resultset, wether it be a change to the logic or a performance optimization, I'll save the before and after resultset to fixed width text files and then do a file compare to confirm the changes I made didn't alter the result in an unexpected way.

Beyond Compare (www.scootersoftware.com) is a good tool, and so is open source WinMerge (www.winmerge.org).

Posted by Jerry Hung on 29 March 2011

Great post, I need to go through them all

I just wish I can install them once across all computers I use :)

Posted by pitt on 17 June 2015

Here's another useful tool - Dataedo - database documentation / data dictionary generator.


Posted by ekaterinas on 15 November 2017

Great article, thanks! I also would like to add one more tool - dbForge Monitor -www.devart.com/.../monitor

It is a free add-in for Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio that allows you to track and analyze SQL Server performance

Posted by ekaterinas on 15 November 2017

Great article, thanks! I also would like to add one more tool - dbForge Monitor -www.devart.com/.../monitor

It is a free add-in for Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio that allows you to track and analyze SQL Server performance

Posted by ekaterinas on 15 November 2017

Great article, thanks! I also would like to add one more tool - dbForge Monitor -www.devart.com/.../monitor

It is a free add-in for Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio that allows you to track and analyze SQL Server performance

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