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Category: Backups

Planning a Restore Strategy

Jonathan Kehayias inverts the paradigm:

Do you know how long it takes to RESTORE each database from a FULL backup? Does your run book include critical configuration options like Instant File Initialization or backup compression that can impact how long it takes to restore a database? Does the database have an excessively large transaction log file that will require zero initialization upon creation if the existing database files are not there? Does the database use transparent database encryption (TDE) which will prevent it from being able to instant initialize the size of the data files for the database?

Until you test your RESTORE time for a FULL backup, you don’t know if you can meet your RTO utilizing backups or not, and you may need one of the previously mentioned HA/DR features in SQL Server. However, in an absolute worst case scenario where recovery can only occur from backups, it is still important to know how long each step of the process is going to take so that you can set expectations appropriately. Your minimum recovery time is going to at least be the time required to restore the most recent FULL backup.

Click through for a lot of great advice in this vein.

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TDE and Backup Compression

Andy Levy learns the truth:

For years, I thought that native backups of databases using Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) couldn’t be compressed. Between TDE being limited to Enterprise Edition until SQL Server 2019 and my own lack of experience with TDE in prior positions, I hadn’t really experimented with this myself. Some people have even gone so far as to skip compression in their backup jobs for TDE-enabled databases because there’s no need to burn those CPU cycles if you won’t get any compression, right?

But a curious thing happened after I upgraded a portion of my environment to SQL Server 2019 in late 2020. I observed that scheduled backups were compressing for some of my TDE-enabled databases, most notably the newer instances. And when I took ad hoc backups in any environment, they were compressed. So why wasn’t it working everywhere?

Read on for the explanation, though one correction: MAXTRANSFERSIZE is 1MB by default only when the database is not encrypted using TDE (and you aren’t backing up to a tape drive). If the database is encrypted using TDE, the default max transfer size is 64KB, and I think that’s what got Andy.

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A Checklist for Database Post-Restoration

Randolph West wants you to keep some things in mind after you restore that database:

Whenever I restore a database — especially one I obtained outside of my regular environment (for example a customer database, a development database, or even a sample database like WideWorldImporters) — there are a few things I like to check to make sure it’s configured for peak performance.

Note that some of this advice may apply only to non-production databases.

Click through for the list.

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Restoring Databases from Blob Storage Files

Stuart Moore talks us through a (rare) gap in dbatools:

In the comments here I was asked about using Restore-DbaDatabase when all you have is blobs in an Azure Storage account. This can be done, involves a couple of non dbatools steps.

Restore-DbaDatabase doesn’t natively ‘talk’ Azure, nor do any of the other dbatools commands. The reason for this is that we didn’t want to force dbatools users to have to install the AzureRM/Az powershell modules just to use our module. We’ve gone to a lot of effort to make sure that dbatools is acceptable to Security Admins and that it has a small(ish) footprint, and adding those large modules as prerequisites would have broken that.

Read on for how you can get around that.

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Querying the SQL Server Backup History

Chad Callihan takes us through our sordid pasts:

What do you do when you want to check the history of your database backups? Do you look at a drive containing your backups? Do you have software like Netbackup for you to open and review? My preference is to run a query in SSMS to get a quick overview.

With a couple tweaks this versatile script can be helpful in a variety of scenarios. You can check a single database, an entire SQL server, or multiple SQL servers. Here is how I use this type of script that queries the backupset table and backupmediafamily table in msdb. I recommend checking out these two tables because there are some good column options that you may want to include when reviewing backups. If you’re feeling dangerous, just modify the scripts below to be SELECT * and see what you get.

Click through for the scripts.

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Ignoring Backups in the SQL Server Error Log

Garry Bargsley has a solution to an annoyance:

Whether you are new to SQL Server or a seasoned veteran, you will notice odd behavior in the SQL Server Error Log. When a database backup is performed, an entry is put into the SQL Error Log. The SQL Server team decided to log successful backup messages to the Error Log. If you ask most technology professionals, you will find that logging successful events are not really a common occurrence.  This behavior causes a bloated Error Log that can make it hard to find what you need quickly.

Luckily, that same SQL Server team built in a solution to this situation.

Read on to see what the solution is, as well as how to use it.

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Offloading Maintenance Operations

Taryn Pratt has a process for offloading maintenance operations onto another server:

Early on when I started working on the SQL Servers at Stack Overflow, we were taking daily backups. We had a handful of databases that were being restored for other processes, but the majority weren’t actively tested to ensure the backups were good. Since you never want to be in a situation where you need to restore a database and find it doesn’t work, my goal was to create a process to automatically restore our backups to a separate server, and then run DBCC CHECKDB on it.

This is a T-SQL-driven process and I appreciate that. If you want a Powershell-driven process, Kevin Hill has you covered.

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Restoring a TDE Database to a Different Server

Chad Callihan reminds us of the other half of backups:

You setup TDE for your database. Great! Now you need to restore that database to a different server. Maybe you’re migrating off of an older server or maybe there is testing to be completed for an upcoming release. If we try to backup/restore or attach the database on a different server we’ll get some variation of an error stating “cannot find server certificate with thumbprint…” and the process will fail. There are a few steps to get the TDE database restored and we’re going to walk through them today.

Read on for those instructions.

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