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Sometimes It’s Best Not To Monkey Around

Recently I found a poorly performing server and I could not figure out why with all of the usual troubleshooting techniques.  Something told me to look at some of the configuration settings and there it was shining like a crazy diamond.  The sp_configure option ‘max worker threads’ was set to a value of 16.  Seriously?

Now my curiosity was piqued.  There are experts who change settings like this because they know what they are doing.  Generally, I do not monkey around with these types of settings unless I have a really good reason to do so, and no a vendor telling me to do it is not a good reason unless this SQL Server is dedicated solely to them, which it is not!  Best practices says to leave this at zero so that SQL Server can manage the number of worker threads for optimal performance.  Who am I to think that I know better than some really smart guys from Redmond?  After doing some light reading on the subject, I learned that too few threads can cause “thread starvation” where there are not enough threads to service the incoming client requests resulting in poor performance.

In addition, setting this value too high can waste memory and also be detrimental to performance.  In conclusion, do not monkey around with the settings unless you know what you are doing.  That is all!




Maintenance Plans All Died…See the Magic

Last night on one of my production clusters, all of the maintenance plans died.  On my drive in to work, I thought it was probably a drive space issue, but it was also strange that I did not receive an alert for that.  Finally at the office looking at the Job Activity Monitor then view history, I get a lot of useless information that says simply “the step failed” during my reorganize index routine.  This is not much help.

When looking at the Maintenance Plan view history, then I actually see a useful error: “Alter failed for Server <servername>.”  When looking up this error ,I narrowed it down to two plausible solutions.  The first being to check to make sure that “Automatically set I/O affinity mask for all processors” is checked.  We don’t generally change that from the default.  Next.

The second option was to make sure sp_configure “allow updates” was set to zero.  I thought it was, especially since this is a 2005 box and the feature is supposed to be deprecated (books online confirmed that for me, interesting though it says the functionality is unavailable).  Low and behold “allow updates” was set to one.  A quick reconfigure and the maintenance plans are running again.

This is a temporary fix because the new server I am migrating these to at the end of the year will be running Ola Hallengren’s backup solution, like my other new servers.  Bye bye maintenance plans!


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