Integrity checks have become more and more important over the years, as companies store more and more data. This data is absolutely critical, so when corruption happens, it can break a company.
But in all but the smallest shops, running any kind of integrity check is all but completely useless.
Integrity checks without management
DBCC CHECKDB was originally written without consideration of management. For a very long time, you could only output CHECKDB results to the client – meaning you had to run it by hand – or to the error log. Seriously, what good is that? Later, Microsoft added the ability to output CHECKDB results to a table, but that remained undocumented for years so very few people knew it even existed.
That’s not the only problem. A lot of DBAs don’t run CHECKDB at all, because large databases take a long time to process. CHECKDB takes an internal snapshot for its operations. For large databases, that snapshot can fill up the drive, killing the integrity check process entirely. So, you have nothing to show for your efforts. Some DBAs tried to get around this issue by moving to CHECKTABLE instead, but that process comes with the same issues, and is even harder to manage because there are so many more tables than databases.
Integrity checks without reporting
Another reason that running DBCC CHECKDB is useless is this: reporting is still very difficult. Let’s say you have 50 servers – yes, I know a lot of you may have many more than that – and CHECKDB is set to run through a maintenance plan, outputting results to the SQL error log. In this scenario, you have to mine the log for CHECKDB results. That means you not only have to know when the CHECKDB completes on each and every server, but you also have to know what the log entry will look like, and how to parse out the results so they’re readable…again, on every single one of 50 servers. There is simply no easy way to consume CHECKDB results on any kind of scale.
The whole goal of Minion CHECKDB was to transform these issues surrounding integrity check processing into simple settings. Now DBAs of every skill level can have a stable, standardized integrity check process for even their largest databases.
Minion CHECKDB has a huge number of groundbreaking features. MC solves the reporting problem by capturing integrity check results to our own log table, along with a huge amount of additional information. Now it just takes a simple query to get the results. Instead of the native raw CHECKDB results, the MC log table tells you how many corruption errors were encountered. Then you can drill deeper from there if you like.
We’ve also solved the problem of the large database that can’t be processed because it runs out of snapshot space. In fact, we’ve solved that a few ways, and I’ll discuss a couple of them here.
- You can create a custom snapshot on a different drive that has more space. MC manages those snapshots for you, so it’s literally a set and forget operation.
- Or, you can restore a recent backup of your database to a remote system and run CHECKDB against that instead. Remote CHECKDB even brings the results back to the primary server, so you don’t have to go hunting for them. Again, this is a setting; you configure it, and then MC manages the whole process for you.
Of course, there’s more
There are many more features in Minion CHECKDB that I didn’t mention. But since MC is completely free, you can download it and install it on as many instances as you want. Go explore!
Put MC on all your systems and start doing integrity checks again. We’ve taken away all the excuses. And when coupled with Minion Backup and Minion Reindex (both also free), you’ve got a maintenance suite that meets all your needs from planning to reporting, and everything in between.
*Without proper management and reporting!