A few weeks ago, I went to the Swiss Database Days 2013 and followed the “Practical SQL Server Performance Troubleshooting” workshop. During this workshop, I have seen a different way of troubleshooting, but I was surprised to see that some participants were not aware that some basic SQL Server Best Practice do not depend on the instance settings. This blog posting is a reminder of some of these points.

Swiss Database Days 2013: SQL Server Best Practice

As I said, I was suprised to see that some workshop participants were not aware of (or did not pay attention to) the fact that some basic SQL Server Best Practice do not depend on the instance settings:

  1. The power options of Windows Server
  2. NUMA settings
  3. Disks layout and configuration

Windows Server power options

Let’s start with the Windows Server “power options”. In the “Control Panel” under the “Power Options”, you can change the settings to reduce the energy consuption.

I do understand that for laptop or desktop computers (using Windows 7 or 8) some energy saving options should be actived.
But I don’t understand why Microsoft sets the “balanced” power plan for Windows Server per default, as this is a OS that will be used on servers.

The setting “Balanced” will reduce the performance and reaction of the server. In the worst case, people will buy a bigger server with more energy consuption to get more performance. So the recommandation is to put it on “high performance”.

Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA)

My second point is NUMA. As the number of processors is increasing, it becomes more difficult to install a parallel access to the (shared) memory of all these additional processors.

NUMA tries to reduce this problem by dividing memory in different parts and giving a restricted access to groups of processors (Nodes). As memory is splitted, the number of parallel access will be increased and will reduce the number of conflicts accessing the memory. Memory allocated to another group of processesors can still be accessed, but this is done through the memory bus of the other processor group and will be slower.

I will not go into details here, if you want to know more about it, I have added some links below. What is important here is to make sure that the server hardware is used in the best way if it is NUMA compatible, so that it gives the best performances.

To verify the configuration, you can use the “coreinfo.exe” tool.
This can be downloaded here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/cc835722.aspx

Disks layout and configuration

And now the last point: the disks. This is a very important point, but many people think that SANs or other disk systems have resolved this problem and that it does not need to be considered anymore.

Unfortunately, this is wrong! You should always take in consideration “why” the disk is used and “how”. The responses to these questions will give you an answer of what can be used and also what cannot be used!

Then, depending on price and (needed) performance, the final choiCe can be made. Follow this link to have the different possible RAID configurations depending on needed performance and the amount of disks (price): http://blogs.technet.com/b/sql_server_isv/archive/2010/11/11/sql-server-drive-configurations.aspx

If you need more performance, you can also replace the RAID1 or RAID5 with RAID10 disks.

You also need to pay attention to the alignement of the MasterBoot sectors. If your disks have been formated in NTFS with Windows Server 2008 or higher, this is automatically done. If your disks were formated with older Windows versions, please check it with the following command in “cmd” and if needed align them.

  • wmic.exe partition get BlockSize, startingOffset, Name, Index

To align them you need to reformate them, which means that you will loose everthing that is on the drive. Move your files somewhere else or make a backup of them, before formating the drives.

As I have stated before, these are only three basic points of SQL Server Best Practice that you should consider before any installation.
Here are some links with background information:





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Microsoft Team