System Health Session and beyond

I had blogged extensively about System Health Session available in SQL Server 2008 and above. I had also demonstrated how the System Health Session can be used in conjunction with SQL Server Management Studio reports in previous series that I ran on my blog.

System Health Session Dashboard Reports for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 – A set of reports available for SQL Server 2008/SQL Server 2008 R2 which provide visualizations for the events tracked by the System Health Session. The reports can be used using the custom reports option in SQL Server Management Studio.

System Health Session Dashboard – Shows the basic information of the information that can be fetched from the System Health Session.

System Health Session Dashboard — sp_server_diagnostics and more – A look into the different issues tracked by the sp_server_diagnostics script and how to build visualizations using that information.

System Health Session Dashboard – sp_server_diagnostics – The basics of what is covered by the sp_server_diagnostics procedure and how to build visualizations on top of the data captured.

System Health Session Dashboard – Error Summary Report
– Shows information on how to write queries to fetch information about various errors tracked by the System Health Session. Shows information tracked by the enhanced System Health Session in SQL Server 2012.

System Health Session Dashboard – Health Summary Report
– Gives you information about the SQL Server instance health like CPU usage, memory etc. A screenshot of the report is shown below:

I have added UTC time formatting so that the time is shown in the same time zone based on the server on which you are viewing the report.

I will keep updating this post once I keep updating with the new reports. As usual, feedback is always welcome.

The report definitions (.rdl) can be downloaded from here.

System Health Session and Deadlocks

I had blogged about retrieving deadlock related information using the default Extended Event session which runs by default on all SQL Server 2008 instances and above. However, once you have retrieved the XML deadlock graph, it could be quite cumbersome to read if the deadlock happens to be complex or involves multiple nodes. I frequently require the need to fetching the information about past deadlocks from the System Health Session data while working on customer environments. Due to the frequent repetitive nature of the data collection, I decided to automate this task.

I again decided to use a combination of Powershell and T-SQL to extract this information. The Powershell script (TransformtoXDL.ps1), which requires Powershell 2.0 or above, uses a T-SQL script (TransformtoXDL.sql ) to extract data from the System Health Session and outputs each individual deadlock graph as a separate .XDL file into a folder of your choice with the timestamp of the occurrence of the deadlock. Note that the time reported will be in GMT timezone.

The powershell script accepts two parameters: vServername for the SQL Server instance that you want to extract the data from and the vPath for the folder into which the XDL files should be saved into.

.\TransformToXDL.ps1 -vServername "<server name>" -vPath "C:\Tempdb\"

Yes… I have a folder called Tempdb on my C: drive!! Smile

A sample output is shown in the screenshot below:


The Transact-SQL script called TransformtoXDL.sql does the following:

1. Extracts the System Health Session data into a temporary table
2. Based on the version of your SQL Server instance, it performs the parsing to extract the deadlock graph. This script accounts for issues mentioned in KB978629. I would like to thank Michael Zilberstein [B] for the proposed corrective action on an issue that Jonathan Kehayias [B|T] had blogged about.
3. The last action that the script takes is to perform XML modification to get the XML deadlock data in the same format which is recognized by SQL Server 2012 Management Studio when viewing XDL files.

The powershell and T-SQL script can be downloaded here.

#    Script Name: TransformToXDL
#    Author: Amit Banerjee
#    Date: September 6, 2012
#    Description:
#    The script reads the deadlock graphs from the System Health Session
#    Ring Buffer and parses them to create an individual deadlock graph
#    in a folder of your choice.
#    Usage: .\TransformToXDL.ps1 -vServername "INST1" -vPath "C:\Tempdb\"
# This Sample Code is provided for the purpose of illustration only and is not intended to be used in a production environment. THIS SAMPLE CODE AND ANY RELATED INFORMATION ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND/OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. We grant You a nonexclusive, royalty-free right to use and modify the Sample Code and to reproduce and distribute the object code form of the Sample Code, provided that You agree: (i) to not use Our name, logo, or trademarks to market Your software product in which the Sample Code is embedded; (ii) to include a valid copyright notice on Your software product in which the Sample Code is embedded; and (iii) to indemnify, hold harmless, and defend Us and Our suppliers from and against any claims or lawsuits, including attorneys’ fees, that arise or result from the use or distribution of the Sample Code.

Param ([string] $vServername,
[string] $vPath)


# Load the SQL Server snap-in for using sqlcmd cmdlet
$ErrorActionPreference = "SilentlyContinue"
Import-Module sqlps
$ErrorActionPreference = "Continue"

Write-Host "`nConnecting to SQL Server instance " $vServerName " to extract deadlock information"
# Extract the deadlock graphs and parse them in the system health session
Invoke-Sqlcmd -InputFile "C:\Tempdb\TransformToXDL.sql" -ServerInstance $vServerName

# Function to get the information from the table stored in tempdb
function Get-SqlData
[string]$serverName=$(throw 'serverName is required.'),

$connString = "Server=$serverName;Database=$databaseName;Integrated Security=SSPI;"
$da = New-Object "System.Data.SqlClient.SqlDataAdapter" ($query,$connString)
$dt = New-Object "System.Data.DataTable"


# Get the data stored in tempdb using the function defined above
$rows = get-sqldata $vServername  "tempdb"  "select row_id,event_time,deadlockgraph from tempdb.dbo.deadlock_graphs"

$vCount = 0
# Extract each row retrieved into an individual XDL file with the timestamp of the issue
foreach ($row in $rows)
if($row -ne $null)
$vFileName = $vPath + $vServername.Replace("\","_")+ "_" + $row.event_time.ToString().Replace(":","_").Replace("/","_") + ".xdl"
Write-Host "`nCreating file: "  $vFileName
$row.deadlockgraph | Out-File $vFileName

Write-Host "`nDeadlocks found: " $vCount.ToString()
Write-Host "`nPerforming cleanup"
Invoke-Sqlcmd -Query "IF EXISTS (SELECT TOP 1 name FROM tempdb.sys.objects where name = 'deadlock_graphs')
DROP TABLE tempdb.dbo.deadlock_graphs
END" -ServerInstance $vServerName

The above has been tested on SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2012. The resulting XDL files can be opened in SQL Server 2012 Management Studio. I am always looking for feedback. So please feel free to Tweet, Facebook or Email me regarding any issues or enhancements that you might need for the same.

You might want to remember that the T-SQL query used is a resource intensive query and it is preferable that you run this extraction exercise during non-business hours especially if your SQL Server instance is experiencing a large number of deadlocks.

Awesomesauce: Deprecated Features usages

SQLServer:Deprecated Features is a performance object that is available since SQL Server 2005. The number of deprecated features have definitely increased since SQL Server 2005. In SQL Server 2012, there are a number of deprecated features whose use on your SQL Server 2012 instance can be determined through the use of this performance object.

Some of the common features that you might be interested in finding out the usage are DBCC REINDEX, DBCC SHOWCONTIG, DBCC INDEXDEFRAG. Once you have found the usage of these, you can find out which application uses this by looking up the SQL Server default trace.


declare @tracename nvarchar(4000)

select @tracename = path from sys.traces where id = 1
select TextData, StartTime, EndTime, spid, ServerName, HostName, error, SessionLoginName ,ApplicationName, TransactionID
from fn_trace_gettable(@tracename,default)
where EventClass = 116
and (TextData like '%showcontig%' or TextData like '%reindex%' or TextData like '%indexdefrag%') 

Download the T-SQL script to find out the deprecated features being used on your SQL Server 2012 instance using the script below.

Script name: Deprecated_Features.sql

The above is a good way to determine the use of deprecated features and which requires a change in your SQL Server environment.

Discontinued Engine Features in SQL Server 2012
Deprecated Engine Features in SQL Server 2012

Awesomesauce SQL Server 2012: Performance Dashboard

I had written an article on SSWUG on how to track performance problems using Performance Dashboard. So, I thought it would be a good idea to blog about the new enhancements to the toolset for SQL Server 2012. The Performance Dashboard has been enhanced for SQL Server 2012 and is available for download on the Microsoft Download site.

And with this I also start the Awesomesauce series on my blog where I will keep posting about new features of SQL Server 2012 which I think are just plain awesomesauce!!

Once you install the Performance Dashboard, you need to do the following:

1. Each SQL Server instance you plan to monitor must contain the procedures and functions used by the queries in the reports.  Using SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), open the setup.sql script from your installation directory (default of %ProgramFiles(x86)%\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Performance Dashboard) and run the script.  Close the query window once it completes.

2. In the Object Explorer pane in SSMS, right mouse click on the SQL Server instance node, then choose Reports-Custom Reports.  Browse to the installation directory and open the performance_dashboard_main.rdl file.  Explore the health of your server by clicking on the various charts and hyperlinks in the report.

3. All of the remaining reports are accessed as drill through operations from the main page or one of its children.  For a detailed explanation of all installation requirements and guidance on how to use the reports, please see the help file, PerformanceDashboardHelp.chm

Now that the nitty gritty details are out of the way, what will you get when you view the dashboard and you will notice the dashboard having a new entry for XEvent sessions currently active on the instance.



Continue reading

System Health Session: Part 4

This is the last post for the System Health Session series. In this post, I shall show you how to extract deadlock related information from the deadlock graph captured by the System Health Session.

The deadlock graph captured typically has three distinct nodes:

victim-list – Deadlock victim’s process identifier
process-list – Information pertaining to all the processes involved in the deadlock
resource-list – Information about the resources involved in the deadlock

The query below will provide you with the time stamp when the deadlock was reported along with victim process identifier.

 -- Fetch the Health Session data into a temporary table

INTO #SystemHealthSessionData
FROM sys.dm_xe_session_targets xet
JOIN sys.dm_xe_sessions xe
ON (xe.address = xet.event_session_address)
WHERE = 'system_health'
-- Gets the Deadlock Event Time and Victim Process
SELECT C.query('.').value('(/event/@timestamp)[1]', 'datetime') as EventTime,
CAST(C.query('.').value('(/event/data/value)[1]', 'varchar(MAX)') AS XML).value('(<a>/deadlock/victim-list/victimProcess/@id)[1]','varchar(100)'</a>) VictimProcess
FROM #SystemHealthSessionData a
CROSS APPLY a.XMLDATA.nodes('/RingBufferTarget/event') as T(C)
WHERE C.query('.').value('(/event/@name)[1]', 'varchar(255)') = 'xml_deadlock_report'
-- Drop the temporary table
DROP TABLE #SystemHealthSessionData 

The next query (when provided with an event time from the above query output)
will provide you a parsed version of the process list in a tabular format which
can be easier to read when you have a large number of sessions involved in the

 -- Fetch the Health Session data into a temporary table

INTO #SystemHealthSessionData
FROM sys.dm_xe_session_targets xet
JOIN sys.dm_xe_sessions xe
ON (xe.address = xet.event_session_address)
WHERE = 'system_health'

-- Parses the process list for a specific deadlock once provided with an event time for the deadlock from the above output

;WITH CTE_HealthSession (EventXML) AS
SELECT CAST(C.query('.').value('(/event/data/value)[1]', 'varchar(MAX)') AS XML) EventXML
FROM #SystemHealthSessionData a
CROSS APPLY a.XMLDATA.nodes('/RingBufferTarget/event') as T(C)
WHERE C.query('.').value('(/event/@name)[1]', 'varchar(255)') = 'xml_deadlock_report'
AND C.query('.').value('(/event/@timestamp)[1]', 'datetime') = '2011-09-28 06:24:44.700' -- Replace with relevant timestamp
SELECT DeadlockProcesses.value('(@id)[1]','varchar(50)') as id
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@taskpriority)[1]','bigint') as taskpriority
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@logused)[1]','bigint') as logused
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@waitresource)[1]','varchar(100)') as waitresource
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@waittime)[1]','bigint') as waittime
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@ownerId)[1]','bigint') as ownerId
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@transactionname)[1]','varchar(50)') as transactionname
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@lasttranstarted)[1]','varchar(50)') as lasttranstarted
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@XDES)[1]','varchar(20)') as XDES
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@lockMode)[1]','varchar(5)') as lockMode
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@schedulerid)[1]','bigint') as schedulerid
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@kpid)[1]','bigint') as kpid
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@status)[1]','varchar(20)') as status
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@spid)[1]','bigint') as spid
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@sbid)[1]','bigint') as sbid
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@ecid)[1]','bigint') as ecid
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@priority)[1]','bigint') as priority
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@trancount)[1]','bigint') as trancount
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@lastbatchstarted)[1]','varchar(50)') as lastbatchstarted
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@lastbatchcompleted)[1]','varchar(50)') as lastbatchcompleted
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@clientapp)[1]','varchar(150)') as clientapp
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@hostname)[1]','varchar(50)') as hostname
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@hostpid)[1]','bigint') as hostpid
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@loginname)[1]','varchar(150)') as loginname
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@isolationlevel)[1]','varchar(150)') as isolationlevel
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@xactid)[1]','bigint') as xactid
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@currentdb)[1]','bigint') as currentdb
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@lockTimeout)[1]','bigint') as lockTimeout
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@clientoption1)[1]','bigint') as clientoption1
,DeadlockProcesses.value('(@clientoption2)[1]','bigint') as clientoption2
FROM (select EventXML as DeadlockEvent FROM CTE_HealthSession) T
CROSS APPLY DeadlockEvent.nodes('//deadlock/process-list/process') AS R(DeadlockProcesses)

-- Drop the temporary table
DROP TABLE #SystemHealthSessionData

The script file for the above queries can be downloaded from here.

A sample output of the above two queries is shown below:

The second dataset which shows the parsed process list from the deadlock graph is for the timestamp highlighted above.

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, the custom reports used in the previous posts can be downloaded from here (Filename:

Modification April 20th, 2012: Just updated the .sql files and added the Deadlock Report to the SkyDrive location.

Note: To make use of the deadlock graph captured by the System Health Session, you need to have the required update applied to avoid the issue mentioned in KB978629. The issue is addressed in:
981355    Cumulative Update package 1 for SQL Server 2008 R2;EN-US;981355
977443    Cumulative update package 6 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 1;EN-US;977443

If you don’t have the updates installed, then Jonathan (Blog | Twitter) has shown in his article Retrieving Deadlock Graphs with SQL Server 2008 Extended Events how to workaround the issue. Michael Zilberstein’s (Blog) article, Parsing Extended Events xml_deadlock_report, has an updated/corrected version of the T-SQL to fetch the deadlock information.


Bart Duncan’s Weblog:
Deadlock Troubleshooting, Part 1
Deadlock Troubleshooting, Part 2
Deadlock Troubleshooting, Part 3