Where Do You Go for Authoritative SQL Server Best Practices?

Reprinted from my editorial in Database Weekly.

In early 2000, I started a new DBA job with a large organization, as their first full-time SQL Server DBA. My first job was to clean up the mess left by several accidental DBAs who had gone before me, and who had implemented several SQL Server instances without really knowing what they were doing.

I was still a relative novice myself at the time, so I began researching a set of recommended best practices that could be adopted on all of the SQL Server instances that I managed. The problem I ran into was the scarcity of online SQL Server resources; I compiled my SQL Server Best Practices document almost exclusively from Books Online, a few published books, the occasional conference presentation, and what I learned from my own experience. I made the rather naïve assumption that everything I read was essentially "correct". Of course, I soon learned the hard way that this is not always the case.

Now jump ahead to 2011. There is now a vast amount of SQL Server information and ‘best practice’ advice available on the Internet, in the form of innumerable blogs, community sites and forums. Finding an answer to your question is much easier now than it was in 2000, but finding the right (or best) answer is harder than ever. Not only is there a huge amount of information to sift through, but the quality of that information ranges from top notch all the way down to very bad.

For novice DBAs, this is a tremendous problem. Even experienced DBAs still need to rely on the advice of others, in areas outside their realm of expertise. So, how do we separate the wheat from the chaff? I am fortunate in that I’ve been involved with the SQL Server community for a long time, and I’ve built up a strong network of people, blogs, and websites that I trust and to which I turn first when I need help. Even given this, however, I am smart enough now to know that not every best practice fits every situation, so I always test the advice, even of those I trust, just to be sure that it works well in my environment.

So my questions to you are these: where do you go to find best practice advice? What books, websites, blogs, and other sources do you trust the most, and why? Do you ever take this advice at face value, or do you always test it to ensure that it works well in your environment? Share with us you experiences so that we can all learn from it.

7 thoughts on “Where Do You Go for Authoritative SQL Server Best Practices?

  1. For general daily reading I try to read a few articles a day by authors on SQL Rockstar’s list. For specific problems I’m trying to solve I generally look in this order: BOL, SSC, StackOverflow / ServerFault, then random Google results.

    On the record, everything I read first gets tested on a dev server. Off the record, there are certain authors I have enough trust / faith in that I’ll probably accept their words as gospel. Not intended to be a complete list, but if Ozar, Randal or Tripp write it, I’m confident it’s accurate.

    I am very thankful for the time and efforts of the entire SQL community. I have gained so much knowledge over the years. It has really been invaluable to my learning efforts.

  2. Pingback: Something for the Weekend – SQL Server Links 01/07/11

  3. I just read a lot from Paul Randall, Kim Tripp, Glenn Berry, etc…

    Just more or less keep my ear to the ground. Like it or not, in Sql Server has 10 ways to solve a problem, each unique to each situation. No one source is ever 100% right or 100% wrong. Well, usually Paul is 100% right.


  4. I go to SQL Server Central first. Then, look at what I can find and then verify it to the full extent with a few more source like Book-online. I believe that it is my databases, so it is my responsibility to make sure what I run against it is correct.

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