Archive for the ‘Configuration’ Category

Targeting CHECKDB SQL Agent jobs for resource governing

March 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Some time ago I was looking into the performance of DBCC CHECKDB on one of our servers and came to the conclusion that the best Degree of Parallelism (DOP) for CHECKDB was not the same as our server level setting and since CHECKDB does not accept a DOP hint the only option to limit DOP when the server level setting is not appropriate is to use the resource governor.

In our environment CHECKDB is scheduled using SQL Agent and I could have chosen to simply target all SQL Agent jobs and have them all assigned to a single pool but this was not appropriate for all my SQL Agent jobs so I needed a solution targeting individual jobs. I  thought this would be a relatively straight forward task but there were some challenges so i wanted to share them and my solution.

Read more…

SQL Server 2008 uses half the CPU’s

July 6, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently got my hands on a couple of 4 socket servers with Intel E7-4870’s (10 cores per cpu) and with hyper threading enabled that gave me 80 logical CPU’s.

The server has Windows 2008 R2 SP1 along with SQL 2008 (Currently we can not deploy SQL 2008 R2 for the application being hosted).

When SQL Server started I noticed only 2 NUMA nodes were configured and 40 logical cores where there should have been 4 NUMA nodes and 80 logical cores (see below).


Read more…

Categories: Configuration, Numa, SQL Server

Server Side Aliases

November 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Over the years i have come across a few situations where server side connections to SQL server fail when you use a DNS alias that points back to the server your initiating the connection from but you can connect remotely.

Its an annoying problem which has a very unhelpful error message that changed in different versions of SQL. In SQL 2000 you are presented with

"Login failed for user ‘(null)’. Reason: Not associated with a trusted SQL Server connection."  and in SQL 2005 + SQL 2008 its “Login failed. The login is from an untrusted domain and cannot be used with Windows authentication”.

You will also see eventid 537 in the security logs

One of the most common reasons a system is setup with an alias pointing back on itself is because a consolidation has taken place and you don’t want to change the connection strings. However some people simply got burnt when Microsoft first released the security patch which introduced this change and i still find people being burnt today.


NTLM reflection protection was introduced as part of security fix MS08-068. This causes a local authentication failure when using a dns alias which bubbles up and becomes the error described above.

Relevant MS Articles are MS08-068 & and cause extract is:

This problem occurs because of the way that NT LAN Manager (NTLM) treats different naming conventions as remote entities instead of as local entities. A local authentication failure might occur when the client calculates and caches the correct response to the NTLM challenge that is sent by the server in local "lsass" memory before the response is sent back to the server. When the server code for NTLM finds the received response in the local "lsass" cache, the code does not honour the authentication request and treats it as a replay attack. This behaviour leads to a local authentication failure.


You either need to use the local name rather than DNS alias or there are steps described in the resolutions section of the articles to disable the protection totally or for a specific alias.

Changing the Data Files Location after Installation

August 10, 2008 Leave a comment

The other day i wanted to change the “Data Files” location for a 2005 database engine installation and a 2005 Analysis Services installation which you can specify under the advanced options during installation. I quickly found out that there appears to be no documented ways to do this other than uninstall SQL Server and install again specifying a new location for data files. It’s also not as simple as moving your system databases as “Data files” covers things like server errors logs, sql agent logs, replication default directory etc. So, as the uninstall route was not one i was prepared to go down i sat down and worked out how to do it and below are the results.

Read more…

The Job whose owner kept coming back……

December 30, 2007 Leave a comment

I thought i would share this little quirk about the SQL Agent jobs for maintenance plans.

One of our members of staff had left and we had the usual case of a few jobs failing with:

"Unable to determine if the owner (DOMAIN\xxx) of job <JOB_Name> has server access (reason: error code 0x534. [SQLSTATE 42000] (Error 15404))."

So, we went around and updated the job owners to one of our appropriate generic admin accounts. A few days later some of the jobs started to fail again with the same error, since we knew we had performed the update previously it was time to investigate how the job had been set back to the old user account.

It was quickly determined that the only jobs that had reverted back to the old owner were the jobs created by maintenance plans so we focused our attention here. It turns out that when you save a change to a maintenance plan the job owners are reset to the owner of the maintenance plan. The owner of the maintenance plan will be the account used to connect to the server in SSMS when creating the plan.

With this determined a slight variation of our fix was deployed. First we changed the job owners and next we updated the owner of the maintenance plan using the script at the end of the post. The script is in two parts, the first part shows you who owns what and the second updates the owner to an account you specify.

Agent jobs being created with a user account have always been a procedural problem. This is simply another variation on the problem that we need to take into consideration and put a process in place to deal with. The most likely processes are either to only create a maintenance plan when logged on with a generic account or run the script after creating the maintenance plan.

I am however curious why Microsoft have implemented updating the jobs in this manner and see it as having the potential to cause significant problems in environments that may not be monitoring their jobs as closely as is required and end up with maintenance tasks not running for some time. How to get around this? Well, given the nature of maintenance plans and the fact you must be a sysadmin to see or create them, surely it makes sense to have the owner as the SQL Service account or a user created by SQL for maintenance plans? Currently someone has posted this feature to connect here and i’ve added my two pennies worth so if you feel it should change then have you say too!

--See who owns which packages


name, description,SUSER_SNAME(ownersid)



--Now we update the owner to an appropriate domain account. Either the service account or a generic admin account is good.







SSMS Restore backup error

September 14, 2007 Leave a comment

We had a requirement to allow someone to create and restore databases on a test server today and i thought to myself "Thats easy, i`ll just grant the "Create Any Database" right to the appropriate user, thats when the pain began!

The user was using SSMS connecting using a SQL login to restore a database and when they went to specify the backup location they got an error to the effect "Cannot access the specified path or file on the server". After clicking ok the tree view in the locate backup dialog was empty and if you typed in the path and filename manually you still recieved an error.
So, i dug out the profiler and found that xp_fixeddrives was being called and decided to check it out. It turns out that when executing xp_fixeddrives using a SQL login it returns no results! Because of this the error is generated in SSMS and the tree view is not populated.
I spent some time investigating xp_fixeddrives and came to the following conclusions regarding its behaviour.

  • Currently the only way to get xp_fixeddrives to return results when using SQL authentication is to add it to the sysadmin role.
  • I extensively explored proxy account configurations to get xp_fixeddrives to work under SQL authentication and i could find no way to get it working.
  • If you use Windows authentication xp_fixeddrives works as expected. You do not need sysadmin privledges nor do you have to do any proxy configuration.
  • Some poking around with process monitor showed that when using windows authentication or the sysadmin process that SQLSERVR.exe spawns processes to gather the details using the service account. When using SQL Authentication with sysadmin SQLSERVR.exe does not spawn anything or generate any security errors so what ever is going on is beyond what i can work out (My skills with a debugger are to limited :)  ).

At the end of all this i went down the Windows authentication root to work around the issue. For some reason SSMS still generates the error but the tree view is then populated and you can select the file so i can live with that as i suspect exploring why its still generating an error may end up being a bottomless pit of time.

Finally, this only affects SSMS. If the user had done the restore using T-SQL it would have worked (despite a warning about updating the restore history in msdb).

Categories: Configuration, SQL Server

2005 – Alter failed for server XXX

February 13, 2006 Leave a comment

That’s exactly what i thought!! What the hell does that mean?

Well, for me this occurred in the context of running the maintenance plan integrity check task. It had been running fine for weeks but suddenly boom every time it ran it would fail with

"Alter failed for server XXX".

There was no obvious reason for this error so i had to dig out profiler to see what was going on. It turns out that one of the first statements executed by the plan is "sp_configure ‘User Options’,xxxx" followed by "RECONFIGURE".  The reconfigure statement was then generating an error which caused my problem.  But why was it generating an error? That was because a script had been run on the server that changed the "Allow Updates" value from 0 to 1. Changing the value back to 0 resolved the problem.

BOL states that changing the Allow Updates option has no effect since you can’t update system tables in 2005 but it clearly does have an effect since the behaviour of reconfigure changes.

There’s a few points to be taken from this.

1) There actually is no benefit to changing "Allow Updates" so make sure you remove it from your scripts, i have.
2) Why was the "sp_configure ‘User Options’, xxxx" followed by "RECONFIGURE" being executed anyway? Its not relevant to integrity checks and why is it updating server wide settings? I noted the setting was simply set to what it already was, fortunately.
3) Bear this little gotcha in mind because who knows where you will first meet the problem and what message will you get?

Categories: Configuration, SQL Server