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Aaron Bertrand

Aaron is a Product Evangelist for SentryOne, makers of Plan Explorer and a performance monitoring and event management platform for the Microsoft Data Platform and VMware. He has been blogging here at sqlblog.com since 2006, focusing on manageability, performance, and new features, and also blogs at blogs.sentryone.com and SQLPerformance.com; has been a Microsoft MVP since 1997; tweets as @AaronBertrand; and speaks frequently at major conferences, user group meetings, and SQL Saturday events worldwide.

Useful, free resources for SQL Server

Recently Dave Ballantyne posted a list of free resources for SQL Server, entitled "The best things in life are free."  Now, I'm not trying to upstage Dave, but I know of several resources that aren't on his list.  It would be good to have a true community page for this kind of thing, but for now a blog post will have to do.  [I also just re-noticed Mladen Prajdic's post on free SQL Server tools, and his list is quite exhaustive.]  Please leave a comment if you spot any errors, omissions, broken links, etc.
 

Free Upgrade Advisors / Best Practices Analyzers

These tools from Microsoft can be instrumental in cleaning up your systems and finding issues *before* the day of the upgrade.  I'm including the SQL Server 2005 versions, but if you're just planning your upgrade to 2005 now, I'd suggest re-thinking toward 2008 or 2008 R2.  The last service pack for 2005 is due out later this year, and the next major version of SQL Server is probably about a year after that.  Note that there is no SQL Server 2008 Best Practices Analyzer, at least that I could find.


SQL Server 2005 Upgrade Advisor

SQL Server 2005 Best Practices Analyzer
 

SQL Server 2008 Upgrade Advisor - download x64 - download x86


SQL Server 2008 R2 Upgrade Advisor
- download x64 - download x86

SQL Server 2008 R2 Best Practices Analyzer - download x64 - download x86

(For some advice about the R2 BPA install, see this post from August)


SQL Server 2012 CTP3 Upgrade Advisor - download x64 - download x86
(Note that if you're installing RC0 or later, there is a newer Upgrade Advisor with the media, they just haven't made the feature pack public yet, as of 2012-01-13.)


Free Documentation

Books Online is the official go-to documentation for SQL Server, but you don't have to have a SQL Server license to use it.  You can choose to download the application (or install it as part of setup) and keep it up to date, or use the web-based version.

SQL Server 2008 Books Online - or download

Free Training Kits

SQL Server 2012 RC0 Developer Training Kit
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=27721


Free Feature Packs

Jason Howell has summed up the current set of feature packs (these are utilities provided by Microsoft to complement SQL Server tools and services):

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/jason_howell/archive/2010/10/25/list-of-sql-server-feature-packs.aspx


Free Management Studio Add-Ins

Several authors have developed tools that plug into Management Studio, though I wouldn't expect all of them to work flawlessly with SQL Server 2008 R2 - yet.

Mladen Prajdic's SSMS Tools Pack:
http://ssmstoolspack.com/

Sean Price's Snapshot add-in:
http://sqlblogcasts.com/blogs/seanprice/archive/2007/07/15/sql-management-studio-snapshot-add-in.aspx

Jonathan Kehayias' Extended Events Manager:
http://extendedeventmanager.codeplex.com/

RedGate SQL Search
http://www.red-gate.com/products/SQL_Search/

Daniel Gould's Internals Viewer:
http://internalsviewer.codeplex.com/

DevArt SQL Complete Express:
http://www.devart.com/dbforge/sql/sqlcomplete/download.html

SQL Sentry Plan Explorer:
http://www.sqlsentry.net/plan-explorer/sql-server-query-view.asp

Free Community Resources

Looking for other SQL Server people to help you - for free?  The SQL Server community is, as a whole, one of the best free resource you're likely to find in any industry.  I don't think I'm going to try and list out all of the SQL Server blogs here... there are just too many.  But I can point out places where you can get free help online or - believe it or not - in person:

Twitter hashtag : #sqlhelp
http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23sqlhelp

Also see this great twitter primer from @BrentO:
http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2008/08/twitter-101/

And more specifically, this summary of the #sqlhelp tag:
http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2009/12/i-need-sqlhelp/

SQL Server forums on MSDN:
http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en/category/sqlserver/

Stack overflow:
http://stackoverflow.com/

DBA StackExchange:
http://dba.stackexchange.com/

Ask SQLServerCentral:
http://ask.sqlservercentral.com/

ServerFault:
http://serverfault.com/

SQLServerPedia is like Wikipedia but for SQL Server:
http://sqlserverpedia.com/

Also look for a SQL Saturday coming to a city near you:
http://sqlsaturday.com/

Or a local user group.  See this editorial by Brad McGehee:
http://www.sqlservercentral.com/articles/Editorial/67191/

Finally, PASS is free to join. Watch for free online training events and presentations via virtual chapters:
http://sqlpass.org/


Free Blog Assistance

This one is kind of sitting in its own category, but I didn't know where else it would fit.  This web form allows you to take T-SQL code and format it nicely - color coding and all - for various blog formats.  I have found it invaluable over the past few years in adding code samples to my posts:

http://extras.sqlservercentral.com/prettifier/prettifier.aspx


Free Sample Databases

You can download a wide variety of sample databases (mostly in the AdventureWorks flavor):
http://msftdbprodsamples.codeplex.com/

If you want to load Pubs and/or Northwind on a 2005+ server, you can, I guess:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=06616212-0356-46a0-8da2-eebc53a68034


Free Maintenance / Performance Scripts

Adam Machanic's Who Is Active? v.10.0:
http://sqlblog.com/files/folders/release/entry29675.aspx

Michelle Ufford's Index Defrag Script, v4.0
http://sqlfool.com/2010/04/index-defrag-script-v4-0/

Ola's SQL Server 2005 and 2008 - Backup, Integrity Check and Index Optimization
http://ola.hallengren.com/

Brent Ozar's BLITZ! 60 minute SQL Server takeover script
http://www.brentozar.com/sql/blitz-minute-sql-server-takeovers/
Kimberly Tripp's sp_helpindex2:
http://www.sqlskills.com/blogs/kimberly/post/Updates-%28fixes%29-to-sp_helpindex2.aspx
Tibor Karazsi's utility procedures:
sp_indexinfo: http://www.karaszi.com/SQLServer/util_sp_indexinfo.asp
sp_tableinfo: http://www.karaszi.com/SQLServer/util_sp_tableinfo.asp


Free Maintenance / Performance Tools

SQL Sentry Plan Explorer:
http://www.sqlsentry.net/plan-explorer/sql-server-query-view.asp

SQLCop:
http://sqlcop.lessthandot.com/

Microsoft's SQL Server Backup Simulator:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlserverfaq/archive/2010/10/27/sql-server-backup-simulator.aspx

Confio IgniteFree:
http://www.ignitefree.com/

PSSDIAG (for SQL Server 7.0 / 2000):
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?familyid=5564386A-28C2-4483-8293-76FFF67B9EB3

SQLNexus (for SQLDiag / PSSDiag):
http://sqlnexus.codeplex.com/

SQLQueryStress:
http://www.datamanipulation.net/sqlquerystress/

SQL Load Generator:
http://sqlloadgenerator.codeplex.com/

SQLIOSim:
http://blogs.msdn.com/sqlserverstorageengine/archive/2006/10/06/SQLIOSim-available-for-download.aspx

Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) Tool:
http://pal.codeplex.com/

scaleSQL ClearTrace:
http://www.scalesql.com/cleartrace/

Qure Workload Analyzer:
http://www.dbsophic.com/qure-workload-analyzer/
Joe Chang's SQL Exec Stats (docs):
http://www.qdpma.com/ExecStatsZip.html

AutoAudit:
http://autoaudit.codeplex.com/

SQL Server Cache Manager:
http://sqlservercache.codeplex.com/

SQL Server 2005 Performance Statistics Script:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/psssql/archive/2007/02/21/sql-server-2005-performance-statistics-script.aspx

SQL Server 2005 Performance Dashboard Reports:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlrem/archive/2007/03/07/performance-dashboard-reports-now-available.aspx

SQL Server 2008 Performance Dashboard Reports:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/rob/archive/2009/02/18/performance-dashboard-reports-for-sql-server-2008.aspx

SQL Server Health and History Tool (SQLH2):
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=EEDD10D6-75F7-4763-86DE-D2347B8B5F89
Performance Collector: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?familyid=64983AF0-7902-427E-9B41-7C2E8FDCC140
Performance Reports: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?familyid=A4B837C7-A1FA-4F25-840B-FEF15E917F18

SqlMonitoring Tool:
http://sqlmonitoring.codeplex.com/

Log Parser 2.2:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=890cd06b-abf8-4c25-91b2-f8d975cf8c07

DMVStats 1.01:
http://sqldmvstats.codeplex.com/


Free Configuration / Policy Tools

Scripted PowerShell Automated Deployment Engine (SPADE):
http://sqlspade.codeplex.com/

Quest Discovery Wizard beta:
http://www.quest.com/discovery-wizard-for-sql-server/

Enterprise Policy Management (EPM) Framework:
http://epmframework.codeplex.com/

Partition Management:
http://sqlpartitionmgmt.codeplex.com/

SQL Server Central Management System:
http://sqlcms.codeplex.com/

SQL Server Express Utility:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=fa87e828-173f-472e-a85c-27ed01cf6b02


Free SQL Server IDEs

Various free tools from Atlantis:
http://www.atlantis-interactive.co.uk/

Toad for SQL Server has a freeware version:
http://toadforsqlserver.com/index.jspa


Free SQL Server eBooks

I was really reluctant to list all of the eBooks I could find, because it is often difficult to asses the legality of many offers out there.  Here are a few that I know are legit, and I'll let you search for others on your own.

SQL Server Crib-Sheet Compendium (Amirthalingam Prasanna, Grant Fritchey, Phil Factor, Robert Sheldon, Robyn Page):
http://www.simple-talk.com/sql/learn-sql-server/free-ebook-sql-server-crib-sheet-compendium/

SQL Server DMV Starter Pack (Glenn Berry, Louis Davidson, Tim Ford):
http://downloads.red-gate.com/ebooks/SQLServer_DMV_StarterPack.zip

Defensive Database Programming (Alex Kuznetsov):
http://www.red-gate.com/specials/Ebooks/defensive_database_programming.htm

SQL Server Execution Plans (Grant Fritchey):
http://www.red-gate.com/specials/Grant.htm

Introducing SQL Server 2008 R2 (Microsoft Press):
http://download.microsoft.com/download/C/D/1/CD1648C1-46BC-4C79-B16F-7AF650C186B4/693883ebook.pdf

Brad's Sure Guide to SQL Server 2008 (Brad McGehee):
http://www.red-gate.com/specials/ToolbeltBradsure.htm

Paul Randal's DBA-myth-a-day series
http://www.sqlskills.com/BLOGS/PAUL/post/Myths-and-misconceptions-60-page-PDF-of-blog-posts.aspx


Free SSIS Tools and Resources

SSIS Community Tasks and Components
http://ssisctc.codeplex.com/


Free PowerShell Tools and Resources

PowerGUI:
http://www.powergui.org/downloads.jspa

Free PowerShell IDE:
http://www.hanselman.com/blog/FreePowerShellIDE.aspx 
PowerShell Extensions (SQLPSX):
http://sqlpsx.codeplex.com/

TechNet : Scripting with PowerShell:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/scriptcenter/powershell.aspx

PowerShellPack:
http://archive.msdn.microsoft.com/PowerShellPack
 

Free PowerShell eBooks

An Introduction to Microsoft PowerShell
http://download.microsoft.com/download/a/9/4/a94270c7-ed16-4c72-8280-658c66315719/Windows%20Powershell%20-%20EN.zip

Effective Windows PowerShell
http://keithhill.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!5A8D2641E0963A97!6930.entry?sa=58811724

PowerShell Workbook : server administration
http://blogs.technet.com/b/chitpro-de/archive/2008/02/28/free-windows-powershell-workbook-server-administration.aspx

Master-PowerShell:
http://powershell.com/cs/blogs/ebook/
 

Published Tuesday, October 26, 2010 3:02 PM by AaronBertrand

Comments

 

Michael K. Campbell said:

Aaron,

Great list.

You might want to include Free Videos. A number of sites provide them - and tons of people love using them to learn SQL Server.

www.sqlservervideos.com comes to mind ;) (but I'm pretty sure there are other free videos/tutorials sites out there.)

October 26, 2010 6:06 PM
 

Frank said:

Campbell,

Your videos are great! I get a lot knowledge from your videos. :)

The list is great too!

Thank you !

October 26, 2010 8:24 PM
 

tosc said:

Hi Aaron,

broken link at scaleSQL ClearTrace http://www.scalesql.com/cleartrace/default.aspx

I wish you a nice day,

Torsten

October 27, 2010 2:41 AM
 

Peter said:

Here's something else

Introduction to SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services

http://www.msdev.com/Directory/SeriesDescription.aspx?CourseId=155

October 27, 2010 5:14 AM
 

Dugi said:

Thanks for sharing, nice stuff here!

October 27, 2010 9:04 AM
 

David Taylor said:

Thank you so much for this!

October 27, 2010 5:39 PM
 

AaronBertrand said:

Michael J. Swart posted this today, with much more detail on how to solve SQL Server problems using Google, twitter and StackOverflow:

http://michaeljswart.com/?p=978

October 28, 2010 12:56 PM
 

Kalen Delaney said:

Thanks, Aaron and Congratulations... This post is my Blog Post of the Day on the SQL Server Internals Facebook page!

~Kalen

October 29, 2010 6:21 PM
 

AaronBertrand said:

Awesome, thanks Kalen!  Glad the post is useful.

October 29, 2010 6:41 PM
 

johan said:

A free intellisense addin for Sql Mgmt Studio 2005/2008.

November 4, 2010 2:02 AM
 

Aaron Bertrand said:

Okay, I'm following the lead of Joe Webb ( blog | twitter ), who recently posted " My Most Popular Posts

January 28, 2011 4:09 PM
 

Aaron Bertrand said:

A while back, I started collecting links for free SQL Server resources available to everyone in the community.

February 6, 2011 4:39 PM
 

Simon Sabin said:

You can't forget SQLBits. Free conference and free videos online.

January 14, 2012 8:00 AM
 

Jim said:

Aaron, FYI this link still works but unable to download and try the snapshot-add-in in from the link on the page.  

Sean Price's Snapshot add-in:

http://sqlblogcasts.com/blogs/seanprice/archive/2007/07/15/sql-management-studio-snapshot-add-in.aspx

February 1, 2012 9:19 AM
 

Chris said:

Hi Aaron, I checked out this link and could not get it to work. Just a heads up

http://www.ignitefree.com/

March 6, 2012 10:56 AM
 

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April 22, 2012 1:36 AM
 

Chris Adkin said:

Aaron,

I doth my cap to you sir for aggregating such an awesome set of free resources into one place. If you ever revise this list, could I trouble you to add BIDS Helper, freely available via codeplex which is a BIDS / DTP add in.

Chris

October 5, 2012 7:19 AM
 

Paul Brewer said:

Hi Aaron,

Appreciate you are busy and probably get a lot of requests to review things. I've written a 'Database Restore Automation' framework involving 1 stored procedure and 1 PowerShell scipt. Many hours work went into them but I think they now good.

This is an introduction and examples - http://paulbrewer.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/database-restore-automation-examples/

This is where the scripts and technical documentation are stored - http://paulbrewer.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/database-restore-automation/

The framework can automate database restores on a standby server using primary server msdb history and backup files in a network share. It could be used to recover lost historic data, re-initialize availability groups/mirroring/replication and so on.

Any feedback would be gratefully appreciated.

Thanks and regards

Paul

July 5, 2014 8:40 AM
 

Dharmendar Kumar said:

You should add SSMS Boost to this excellent list. http://www.ssmsboost.com/

April 20, 2016 12:21 PM
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