SQL Server 2012 : Using SQLdiag Configuration Manager (part 2) - Backing Up Diagnostic Data Already Available, Analysis Services Custom Collectors

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Adding Trace Filters to a SQLdiag Configuration

Normally, Profiler trace filters are added to a SQL Server data collection to reduce the amount of diagnostic data that is collected by SQLdiag. For example, you could add a filter on SPID to collect only trace events which pertain to a particular Session ID. Note that the text filters add CPU overhead to the data collection as there is a significant CPU overhead for evaluating text-based filters as opposed to integer filters. However, if you collect a Profiler trace using a SQLdiag configuration XML file, then you need to follow these steps:

1. Start SQLdiag on the server.
2. Find out the Trace ID of the Profiler trace running using fn_trace_getinfo function or sys.traces view.
3. Stop the trace using sp_trace_setstatus without deleting the definition.
4. Use the Trace ID obtained from step 2, and use the sp_trace_setfilter stored procedure to set the filter.
5. To verify that the filter is active, use the fn_trace_filterinfo function.
6. When you are satisfied that the filter is active, start the trace data collection using sp_trace_setstatus.

The following T-SQL Commands can be used toSet a Filter for SPID = 52 for TraceID = 2 once the SQLdiag has been initialized:

select * from sys.traces — To get the trace id 
EXEC sp_trace_setstatus 2,0 — Stops the trace but doesn’t delete the trace definition
from the server
EXEC sp_trace_setfilter 2, 12, 0, 0, 52 — Add a filter for SPID = 52
EXEC sp_trace_setstatus 2,1 — Start the trace again
select * from fn_trace_getfilterinfo(2) — Get information about the filters set for the

Understanding the Custom Diagnostics in SQLdiag

This section looks at the different categories of custom diagnostics available out-of-the-box in the Diag Manager. The extensibility of SQLdiag using Diag Manager is a very compelling reason for all SQL Server professionals to add this tool to their repertoire. The T-SQL, VBScript and DOS commands used by the custom diagnostics configurations are available in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Pssdiag\CustomDiagnostics folder.

NOTE If you have installed Diag Manager on a 64-bit machine, then instead of Programs Files you will be looking for the Program Files (x86) folder.

General Custom Diagnostics

The SQL Base custom collector is used to add tasks that should be executed for every type of SQL Server data collection. This custom collector runs before any other custom collector task. One of the group’s primary purposes is to define global parameters that may be of general use in other task groups. This collector also collects basic configuration information from the registry, system configuration information, the status of the PAE switch, and the trace flags active on the target SQL Server instance.

All the output files have the prefix “SERVER_SQL_Base_*.”

The MSINFO custom collector collects the msinfo32 output from the target machine.

The SQL Best Practices custom collector collects outputs of various scripts to check the following:

  • NTFS compression on SQL Server database files
  • Hypothetical indexes on the databases (if any)
  • Use of the /3GB and /PAE switch in the BOOT.INI file
  • Information about all the SQL Server Profiler traces active on the target SQL Server instance

All the output files have the prefix “SERVER_SQL_Best_Practices_*.”

SQL 2008 Perf Stats

The most common customization that SQL Server professionals and Microsoft engineers add to SQLdiag is to collect SQL Server blocking diagnostics. You might already be familiar with the configuration option to capture blocking information. This information can be collected using the SQL 2008 Perf Stats custom diagnostic option. This section describes why this custom diagnostic is not just about collecting blocking information on your SQL Server instance as seen below. Note that the scripts available in the download section work for SQL Server 2012 instances as well.

However, if you intend to capture the SQL Perf Stats script manually, then you need to get the latest Perf Stats script, available from CodePlex at After downloading it, follow these steps:

1. Click Page Info from the navigation bar.
2. Scroll down to locate the File Attachments section.
3. Locate and download the file.
4. After extracting the zip file, you will find the files shown in Figure 3.



The SQL_2008_Perf_Stats_Snapshot.sql script collects information about your SQL Server instance’s top resource-consuming queries, missing indexes information with the CREATE INDEX scripts along with resource consuming query hashes. Query hash was a new feature added in SQL Server 2008 and later versions to create a hash value for the queries which use different literal parameter values. The output of this script is collected twice: once when SQLdiag starts and once when it is stopped.

The SQL_2008_Perf_Stats.sql script captures various DMV outputs and blocking information periodically using a delay of ten seconds with the WAITFOR DELAY command.

The output of both aforementioned scripts can be imported into a SQL Server database using the SQL Nexus tool for data analysis. The bonus here is the fact that this custom diagnostic also collects the output of the System Health Session Extended Event session, which is an Extended Event session that runs by default on SQL Server 2008 instances and later.

NOTE This custom diagnostic is the equivalent of the SQL 2005 Perf Stats custom collector used for SQL Server 2005 instances to collect similar diagnostic information.

Backing Up Diagnostic Data Already Available

The SQL 2008 Backup MDW custom collector performs a backup of any Management Data Warehouse database that you might have configured on the SQL Server instance. When you Save the SQLdiag configuration, a pop-up window will prompt you for the Management Data Warehouse database name, as show in Figure 4.



The SQL Dumps custom collector collects all the mini-dump (SQLDumpXXXX.mdmp) files, symptom dump text files (SQLDump*.txt) and the exception log file. The collector skips any dump file larger than 10MB and limits the dumps collected to 70MB. The dump files skipped will be the older dump files.

WARNING Both the custom collectors can bloat your SQLdiag output folder, so these collectors should be enabled only when required. A Management Data Warehouse database backup can be significantly large if it stores data for a large number of instances or contains a large amount of historical data.

Analysis Services Custom Collectors

The Diag Manager provides four different types of collectors for Analysis Services. Three collectors are specific to a given Analysis Services version, and the fourth is a shared collector that collects general diagnostics from an Analysis Services instance:

  • Analysis Services 2000
  • Analysis Services 2005
  • Analysis Services 2008
  • Analysis Services Shared

The Analysis Services 2008 and Analysis Services Shared works for SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services installed in the multi-dimensional model. If you are interested in viewing what these collectors collect, you can find details by right-clicking on the collector and selecting the Details option as shown in Figure 5.


  •  SQL Server 2012 : Native File Streaming - Storing and Retrieving FILESTREAM Data
  •  SQL Server 2012 : Native File Streaming - Creating a FILESTREAM-Enabled Database
  •  SQL Server 2012 : Native File Streaming - Enabling FILESTREAM
  •  SQL Server 2012 : Native File Streaming - Traditional BLOB Strategies, Introducing FILESTREAM
  •  SQL Server 2012 : Consolidating Data Capture with SQLdiag - Getting Friendly with SQLdiag (part 2) - Using SQLdiag as a Service
  •  SQL Server 2012 : Consolidating Data Capture with SQLdiag - Getting Friendly with SQLdiag (part 1) - Using SQLdiag as a Command-line Application
  •  SQL Server 2012 : Consolidating Data Capture with SQLdiag - The Data Collection Dilemma, An Approach to Data Collection
  •  SQL Server 2012 : Troubleshooting Methodology and Practices - Data Analysis, Validating and Implementing Resolution
  •  SQL Server 2012 : Troubleshooting Methodology and Practices - Data Collection
  •  SQL Server 2012 : Troubleshooting Methodology and Practices - Defining the Problem
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