How to prevent conversation endpoint leaks

March 31st, 2014

One of the most common complains about using Service Broker in production is when administrators discover, usually after some months of usage, that sys.conversations_endpoints grows out of control with CLOSED conversations that are never cleaned up. I will show how this case occurs and what to do to fix it.

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How to read and interpret the SQL Server log

March 10th, 2014

The SQL Server transaction log contains the history of every action that modified anything in the database. Reading the log is often the last resort when investigating how certain changes occurred. It is one of the main forensic tools at your disposal when trying to identify the author of an unwanted change. Understanding the log and digging through it for information is pretty hard core and definitely not for the faint of heart. And the fact that the output of ::fn_dblog can easily go into millions of rows does not help either. But I’ll try to give some simple practical examples that can go a long way into helping sort through all the information and dig out what you’re interested in.

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How to enable and disable a queue using SMO

February 6th, 2013

The SMO object model for SQL Server ServiceQueue does allow one to enable or disable a queue, but the property that modifies the queue status is not intuitive, it is IsEnqueueEnabled:

Gets or sets the Boolean property that specifies whether the queue is enabled.

This property matches the catalog view column is_enqueue_enabled in sys.service_queues but bears little resemblance to the T-SQL statement used to enable or disable a queue: ALTER QUEUE ... WITH STATUS = {ON|OFF}

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Adding a nullable column can update the entire table

February 16th, 2012

In a previous article Online non-NULL with values column add in SQL Server 2012 I talked about how adding a non-null column with default values is now an online operation in SQL Server 2012 and I mentioned how the situation when the newly added column may increase the rowsize can result in the operation being performed offline:

In the case when the newly added column increases the maximum possible row size over the 8060 bytes limit the column cannot be added online.

In this article I want to show you how such a situation can arise and how it impacts even the case that prior to SQL Server 2012 was always online, namely adding a nullable column. Lets consider the following example:

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Show all index and heap access operators in the plan cache

January 27th, 2012

I recently needed a query to look into the current query plan cache and locate all actual data access operators (index scans, index seeks, table scans). This is the query I used, I decided to place it here if someone else find it useful and, more importantly, so that I can find it again when I needed it:

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SQL Server table columns under the hood

October 20th, 2011

You probably can easily answer a question like ‘What columns does this table have?’. Whether you use the SSMS object explorer, or sp_help, or you query sys.column, the answer is fairly easy to find. But what is I ask ‘What are the physical columns of this table?’. Huh? Is there any difference? Lets see.

At the logical layer tables have exactly the structure you declare it in your CREATE TABLE statement, and perhaps modifications from ALTER TABLE statements. This is the layer at which you can look into sys.columns and see the table structure, or look at the table in SSMS object explorer and so on and so forth. But there is also a lower layer, the physical layer of the storage engine where the table might have surprisingly different structure from what you expect.

Inspecting the physical table structure

To view the physical table structure you must use the undocumented system internals views: sys.system_internals_partitions and sys.system_internals_partition_columns:

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T-SQL functions do no imply a certain order of execution

August 10th, 2011

Looking at this question on StackOverflow: Conversion failed when converting from a character string to uniqueidentifier error in SQL Server one can see a reproducible example where a string split UDF works fine in the SELECT statement, but it gives a conversion error in the DELETE statement. Certainly, a bug, right? Actually, not.

The issue at hand is in fact remarkably similar to another common misconception around T-SQL I had to debunk some time ago, see On SQL Server boolean operator short-circuit: that C like operator short-circuit is guaranteed in T-SQL (hint: it isn’t, read the linked article to see a clear counter example).

In the StackOverlow post the misconception is that order of declaration implies order of execution, that the function is evaluated somehow separately from the rest of the query and some sort of temporary result is created that is then used in the overall query execution. This understanding comes naturally to the imperative procedural language mindset of developers trained in C, C++, C# and other similar languages. But in the SQL Server declarative language that is T-SQL, your intuition is actually wrong. To illustrate I will give a simple counter-example, reusing the code from my earlier boolean short-circuit article:

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Online non-NULL with values column add in SQL Server 2012

July 13th, 2011

Prior to SQL Server 2012 when you add a new non-NULLable column with default values to an existing table a size-of data operation occurs: every row in the table is updated to add the default value of the new column. For small tables this is insignificant, but for large tables this can be so problematic as to completely prohibit the operation. But starting with SQL Server 2012 the operation is, in most cases, instantaneous: only the table metadata is changed, no rows are being updated.

Lets look at a simple example, we’ll create a table with some rows and then add a non-NULL column with default values. First create and populate the table:

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FILESTREAM MVC: Download and Upload images from SQL Server

February 6th, 2011

In a previous article I have shown how it is possible to use efficient streaming semantics when Download and Upload images from SQL Server via ASP.Net MVC. In this article I will go over an alternative approach that relies on the FILESTREAM column types introduced in SQL Server 2008.


FILESTREAM storage is a new option available in SQL Server 2008 and later that allows for BLOB columns to be stored directly on the file system as individual files. As files, the data is accessible through the Win32 file access API like ReadFile and WriteFile. But at the same time the same data is available through the normal T-SQL operations like SELECT or UPDATE. Not only that, but the data is contained logically in the database so it will be contained in a database backup, it is subject to ordinary transaction commit and rollback behavior, it is searched by SQL Server FullText indexes and it follows the normal SQL Server security access rules: if you are granted SELECT permission on the table, then you can open the file to read. There are some restrictions, eg. a database with FILESTREAM cannot be mirrored. For a full list of restrictions and limitations, see Using FILESTREAM with Other SQL Server Features. Note that SQL Server Express edition does support FILESTREAM storage.

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How to pass a NULL value in a message to a queue in SQL Server

January 15th, 2011

The SEND Transact-SQL verb does not allow to send a NULL message body, attempting to do so will result in error:

Msg 8433, Level 16, State 1, Line 11
The message body may not be NULL.  A zero-length UNICODE or binary string is allowed.

But there are ways to send a NULL message body. One way is to completely omit the message body argument:

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