Working With A SQL Server Consultant Checklist: Patches, Patches, Patches


It’s obvious to most that you should keep some track of SQL Server patches. You don’t need to install them all the hot minute that they drop, but staying within range of current is pretty important.

If you have an extra 5-10 minutes a month, read the Cumulative Update notes that Microsoft adds along with releases and see if any of the issues sound like ones you’re hitting.

I’m not gonna pretend that the release notes are getting better — in fact they’ve really gone downhill over the last few years — but you can scan through them and get a reasonable idea of what’s in the update as far as fixes and improvements go.

What no reasonable consultant wants to see is a SQL Server that has been up and unpatched for a year. That messes you up in two ways:

  • Your problems could be solved by patching SQL Server
  • Your server metrics are all gonna be cumulative since your last patch

That makes any recent problems really tough to makes heads or tails out of, without a monitoring tool that breaks things down by time.

Remember when I said monitoring tools are important?

They still are.

More Than One

Monitoring tools are also useful for patching, not because they help you monitor for updates or tell you when things are out of date, but because a good monitoring tool will help you baseline to see if there’s any difference after patching.

That can help you just as much when things go well as when things go poorly. Even if it wasn’t the patch — maybe a bad plan got in the cache after you rebooted or something — you have a much earlier warning system.

But what’s really important is having that reservoir of information about your SQL Server.

This is where I get selfish.

If you patch SQL Server, you have to restart it. If you restart it, all the good stuff goes bye-bye, then we might have to delay working together for metrics to build back up.

So pretty and please, patch that thing regularly.

And get a monitoring tool.

For both of us.

Not Just SQL Server

I’ve seen lots of folks using really old versions of SSMS for no good reason. You should keep that up to date, too. Just don’t forget to skip the Azure Data Studio install, if you don’t need it.

There have been a lot of important improvements and fixes to SSMS, especially since version 18. If you’re not running at least that, go grab it.

Especially if we’re going to be working together, because I’ll stop and make you get it if you don’t already have it.

And get a monitoring tool.

For both of us.

Thanks for reading!

Going Further

If this is the kind of SQL Server stuff you love learning about, you’ll love my training. I’m offering a 75% discount to my blog readers if you click from here. I’m also available for consulting if you just don’t have time for that and need to solve performance problems quickly.