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SQL Sentry Truth-Telling and Disk Configuration

Recently, SQL Sentry told me something about my SQL Server disk configurations that I just didn’t want to believe, but alas, it was true.

Several days ago I posted my First Impressions of the SQL Sentry Power Suite.  Today’s post could fall into the category of, “Hey, as long as you have that fancy tool…”  Unfortunately, it also falls into the category of an overloaded worker taking someone else’s word for the truth, not verifying it with independent fact-checking, and then making decisions based on that.  Here’s my story…

I’m not exactly an Accidental DBA (or Involuntary DBA as Paul Randal calls it).  I came to this company five years ago as a lead application developer with extensive experience in database design and development.  I worked my way into management, and along the way, took over the DBA responsibilities.  Fortunately, our systems run pretty smoothly most of the time, but I’m always looking for ways to make them better and to fit into my understanding of best practices.  When I took over as DBA, I inherited a SQL 2000 server with about 30 databases on it supporting our main systems, and a SQL 2005 server with multiple instances.  Both of these servers were configured with the Operating System and Application files on the C drive, data files on a different drive letter, and log files on a third drive letter.  Even before I took over as DBA, I verified that this was true with a previous server administrator, and that these represented actual separate disks.  He stated that they did, and I thought that all was well.

Then one day, I’m poking around inside the SQL Sentry Performance Advisor, checking out features as I am evaluating whether to purchase the product, and I come across a Disk Configuration section.  The first thing I notice is that the drives do not have the proper partition offset, which was not at all surprising to me given the age of the installation and the relative newness of that topic.  But what threw me for a loop was that the graphic display appeared to be telling me that I did not in fact have three separate drives (or arrays) but rather had two, and that the log files were merely on a separate volume on the same physical array as the OS.  I figured that I must be reading it wrong so I scanned the Help file, but that just seemed to confirm my interpretation.  Then I thought, “there must be something wrong with the demo version of the software!  This can’t be right!”  But just to double-check, I went to our current server admin to talk it over with him, and sure enough, SQL Sentry was telling the truth!

I was stunned!  I quickly went through the grieving process…denial…anger…reconciliation.  Here was something that I thought was such a basic truth that was turned upside down.  OK, granted, this wasn’t disastrous.  Our databases didn’t suddenly grind to a halt.  I didn’t get calls late at night inquiring about the sudden downturn in performance.  But it was a bit of a shock to the system, in a good way, to jolt me out of taking what I had believed as the truth for granted, and instead to Trust, but Verify!

Yes, before someone else points it out, I know that there are”free” disk management tools built-in to Windows that would have told me the same thing if I had only looked at them; I did not have to buy a fancy tool to tell me that, but the fact is, until I was evaluating the tool, I had just gone with what I was told, and never bothered to check what was actually there.

So, what things do you believe to be true but you actually never verified?

Legacy Comments

Rob Volk
re: SQL Sentry Truth-Telling and Disk Configuration
The Easter Bunny.

re: SQL Sentry Truth-Telling and Disk Configuration
"This server is only used for ... "