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The Best DBA Tips to Keep SQL Server Data Corruption at an Arm’s Length

by MarketMillion

Microsoft’s SQL Server is one of the biggest and most popular database applications used by organizations across the globe. Since, relational databases are a time-tested, secure, and preferred way to store data, even the largest corporations trusted them. According to Forbes, the SQL Server-based data warehouse provides incredible flexibility in the way we would be reporting or analyzing data in an efficient and user-friendly way.

Database management platforms have become more and more sophisticated in ensuring it remains safe and retains integrity. However, a host of issues ranging from system failures to human error can cause alteration of stored data or even large-scale data loss. That is why proactive data maintenance activities are a must. Here are the top habits that will make your life as a DBA much better, especially in case of a mishap.

A Regular, Rigorous Backup Schedule

Backups are the number one priority anyone who cares about their data must-have. Whether it is of personal or business value, a regular backup schedule shields you from the most disastrous effects of a database mishap. All data corruption incidents seem to be different, and many, if not most, are not recoverable. That is why having a recent backup that you can restore means you minimize the actual amount of data that is lost and can return to smooth operations immediately. 

Updates, Patches, and Optimization

Every software vendor, especially Oracle and Microsoft, releases a host of patches and security and performance-related updates from time to time. That is because a database is a moving target that is constantly connected to the internet and can fall victim to diverse attacks and exploits. An outdated installation that has not been touched for months or years is very likely insecure and prone to attacks or bugs. These bugs and failures are smoothed out by regular updates. Further, MSSQL Server offers some data maintenance, troubleshooting, and quick optimization tools, which, while not very sophisticated, can come up with a surprising amount of performance and security tuning when run regularly. These small steps that don’t take too much time or effort investment might save you tremendous hassle in the long run.

Shutting Down in the Proper Manner

The server on which your database is hosted must be maintained properly and be connected to a secondary power source to ensure that a sudden failure does not take the system offline immediately. A hard shutdown followed by a cold boot could be disastrous to your database as it might have been performing routine background tasks at the page and header level when it was shut down and this progress could be lost or overwritten when the system restarts. You should always follow proper shutdown protocol by allowing all processes to come to idle, then stopping the server software, and only then safely rebooting the physical hardware.

Maintenance of Database

A relevant but simple thing to consider is the size of the database. Initially, the exact size of the database may not matter much, but after many years, the size of the database will be growing larger and larger with time. That necessitates a relatively bigger disk space and a considerable downtime during backup. A larger database implies more volumes of data or increased data items. Hence, it would be more complicated and more susceptible to corruption than any smaller database. It is a wise step to go about creating several.ndf files along with the usual primary database file, instead of having or storing everything in one excessively large .mdf file. Moreover, another issue arises because users are often in the habit of keeping database files together in compressed folders to conserve disk space. You must realize that compressed volumes do not seem to be supported and may culminate in database corruption. You may utilize backup compression and data compression introduced in the 2008 version of SQL Server for the purpose.

Hardware & Software Maintenance

The most common reason underlying data corruption is hardware-associated and platform-related issues. The data corruption occurring in the platform could be because of a bug or driver. Hardware issues may arise because of CPU, disk faults, Memory Modules, or Controllers. There seem to be many cases where corruption is noticed several months later than it occurred. For instance, SQL Server was in the process of writing onto the disk when all of a sudden, it became unresponsive. Hence, those pages became compromised. Hence, it is best to constantly monitor your system constantly to locate any hardware or software errors. Be vigilant and look for virus attacks, bugs, or antivirus corrupting your database. 

It is challenging to pinpoint the exact cause of the error in the event, that the database got corrupted. A petty blunder could impact the whole database and may arrest the workflow. 


We have shared tips on preventing SQL Server database corruption by highlighting a few proactive and preemptive measures. These measures should necessarily be taken to ensure an error-free and healthy state. 

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