SQL Database Administrators on Major Mistakes Made and Learned

On listening to the speaking tour by some of the leading contributors of PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server) recently, we had an opportunity to understand some of the major, but avoidable mistakes as pointed out by experts in this field, which they learned through their experiences in a hard way.

SQL server administration has its own unique challenges in terms of database administration. It is a fact that there is never enough DBAs into it who are skilled, and many people who are not expert DBAs too are pressed into this service. Many of these newbie DBAs working on SQL Server at times don’t know even the fundamental processes and tend to go wrong. So, here we will discuss the top 10 points shared by the expert administrators for everyone understanding.


Ten mistakes of SQL Server DBAs

In fact, one thing we need to keep in mind before going through it is that many of the tasks DBAs are forced to perform are not administrative tasks. For example, query turning or index tuning is part of application development but forced to administrative professionals. In reality, the administration is purely caring and feeding SQL server databases, upkeep and secure them to ensure optimal configuration and performance.

  • Mistake #1: Considering storage subsystem just as space and not an I/O throughput

With the budget constraints and cost-cutting priorities, many DBAs are tempted to think about their DB only in terms of storage. Unfortunately, this leaves us with considerably slow storage in the database to cope up with the increasing workload.


  • Mistake #2: Inadequate troubleshooting methodologies

Troubleshooting Methodology

Many administrators do not keep a checklist of procedures to follow if something goes adverse. There is no need to create it all on your own, but there are plenty of information available on blogs.


  • Mistake #3: Accepting default settings of SQL server

Database Properties

Default SQL server settings help make the set up easy and quick, but may not ensure maximum performance on a long run if you are not customizing it based on your specific needs and priorities.


  • Mistake #4: Less attention to security

Less attention to security

Many newbie DBAs do not pay close attention to security. You should know that databases are the target of most hacks like SQL injection attacks and security should not be left as an afterthought.


  • Mistake #5: Wrong job featuring

The first temptation to many admin people is to always focus on the next big thing. In fact, DBAs should not always care only about the ‘new’ as much as they consider ‘stable’ over it.


  • Mistake #6: Apathy in change management

Change Management

Databases are not counted as developmental projects. So, may new DBAs do not put any real thoughts into managing it as if they were simply coded repositories. It should be revisited.


  • Mistake #7: Incompetent preventative maintenance

Incompetent preventative maintenance

SQL servers regularly need preventative maintenance like defragmenting indexes and updating index statistics. So, DBAs should set up these jobs to upkeep SQL servers and ensure full-fledged performance.


  • Mistake #8: Not automating


Automation can now take off many risk factors related to omissions, forgetfulness, prioritization, time constraints and many other such error-prone processes.


  • Mistake #9: Backups vs. Recovery

Backup and recovery

Just having a backup does not always mean you have a recoverable database at any point. The single way to be confident that you can recover and use the backup is to retrieve it and see. Perform frequent database recoverability testing.


  • Mistake #10: Ignorance about the business procedures

DBAs and those who assign tasks to them do not sometimes realize that they too are a crucial part of the business they represent. Without knowing the nature of their business, the natural cycle of business generation, and customer service approaches, database administration can be a disaster.


By knowing these as the fundamental mistakes of DBA and taking care of these with proper planning will undoubtedly prove out to be helping in SQL database administration.


Author bio:

Sujain Thomas is a DBA cum development specialist who used to work for many of the data companies for a long time and now works as a freelance database consultant. She also makes sure that he writes posts related to effective DBA at least every fortnight.

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