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Toys and Tools


September 25, 2009 by Mike Hillwig

In some of my blog posts, I mention tools to put in your arsenal. These are things you build yourself. Obviously, I live by SQL Server Management Studio.  But I wanted to talk about the other tools and toys that I use or have used in the past. These are all off-the-shelf products or

  • Spotlight on SQL Server – When I first landed in a DBA position, this tool was a godsend. It really helped me get an understanding for the things I should be monitoring on my servers. It also gave me a clue in real time when something was going wrong.
  • Change Director – In a previous environment, our developers had administrative rights to several SQL servers. This was fantastic. Change Director has an agent that runs on the server that runs a perpetual trace and analyzes those trace files for schema and permissions changes. It would then send an alert to me (or the person responsible for that system) indicating the changes that had just been made. I’m seriously considering it for next year’s budget in my current environment.
  • Toad – SSMS is good, but Toad is better. We bought Toad at my previous company because I was trying to get my users away from using Enterprise Manager for building queries.  Enterprise Manager had some nasty habits, like putting locks on tables you were viewing. This was an great product for both developers and DBAs. It does things you can’t do with SSMS.
  • Microsoft System Center Operations Manager – My current company has deployed SCOM for monitoring and management of our servers. It does a pretty decent job of monitoring the SQL infrastructure, but it doesn’t get as granular as I sometimes wish it would.
  • SQLFarms Combine – This is a change management and deployment tool that we bought at my previous company. It lets you put SQL scripts in a bundle and then you deploy them all at once. The logging was fantastic. I tried finding their site, but it appears to be down for several days now. I wonder if they’re still in business.
  • Query Express – One of the developers at my previous company turned me onto this. It’s a lightweight query tool that doesn’t require installation. You can run it from a USB key. I like it because it exports to a CSV better than SSMS.
  • SQLPing – Every once in a while I need to scan our network for SQL instances that may have popped up without someone telling me. This is a great little tool to help you find SQL instances. Run it as a domain administrator, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to know everything you need.

Those are some of my toys and tools. What do you use and like?