A Performance Troubleshooting Methodology for SQL Server

When healing a sick SQL Server, you must forget the idea that there could ever be a simple correspondence between symptom and disease: The art of troubleshooting is much more the art of discovering, and assembling, the various pieces of the puzzle so that you have a complete understanding of what is going on inside of a server

Knowing where to start is the toughest part of solving a problem. As a Senior Database Administrator, I prided myself on being able to pinpoint the root cause of problems in my servers, and quickly restore services to normal working order. The ability to do this is partly down to a sound knowledge of your SQL Server environment, partly to having the right tools and scripts, and partly to what you learn to look out for, based on hard-earned lessons of the past.

Nailing down a specific methodology for troubleshooting problems with SQL Server is hard because, of course, the exact route taken to solve the problem will depend on the specific nature of the problem and the environment. One of the keys to accurate troubleshooting is not only collecting and examining all of the relevant pieces of information, but also working out what they are telling you, collectively. There is a famous old proverb, recorded in John Heywood’s Dialogue Containing the Number in Effect of All the Proverbs in the English Tongue, which sums this up very well:

I see, yet I cannot see the wood for the trees.

If you collect and examine individually five separate pieces of performance data, it’s possible that each could send you down a separate path. Viewed as a group, they will likely lead you down the sixth, and correct, path to resolving the issue. If there is one take-away from this article, it should be that focusing on a single piece of information alone can often lead to an incorrect diagnosis of a problem.

What I attempt to offer in this article is not a set of stone tablets, prescribing the exact steps to take to resolve all SQL Server problems, but rather a basic approach and set of tools that have served me well time and again in the six years I’ve spent working with SQL Server, troubleshooting performance problems. It covers a high-level description of my basic approach, followed by more detailed sections on each of my areas of focus, including wait statistics, virtual file statistics, SQL Server-related performance counters, and plan cache analysis.

Defining a Troubleshooting Methodology

Defining a troubleshooting methodology is hard, because the actual methodology that I apply depends entirely on the specific problem that I am trying to troubleshoot for a specific environment. However, my basic approach, and the tools I use, remain constant, regardless of whether the problem is users complaining of slow performance, or if I am just performing a standard server health check.

When I am examining a server for the first time, I need to establish a picture of its general health, and there are a number of items on which I’ll focus in order to obtain this picture. For each piece of information I collect, I’ll be examining it in relation to the previous data points, in order to validate or disprove any previous indicators as to the nature of the problem.

Fairly early on in any analysis, I’ll take a look at the wait statistics, in the sys.dm_os_wait_stats Dynamic Management View (DMV), to identify any major resource waits in the system, at the operating system level. Let’s say I identify very high PAGEIOLATCH_SH waits, which indicates that sessions are experiencing delays in obtaining a latch for a buffer page. This happens when lots of sessions, or maybe one session in particular, are requesting a lot of data pages that are not available in the buffer pool (and so physical I/O is needed to retrieve them). SQL Server must allocate a buffer page for each one, and place a latch on that page while it’s retrieved from disk. The bottleneck here is disk I/O; the disk subsystem simply can’t return pages quickly enough to satisfy all of the page requests, and so sessions are waiting for latches, and performance is suffering. However, this does not necessarily mean that a slow disk subsystem is the cause of the bottleneck; it may simply be the victim of excessive I/O caused by a problem elsewhere in the system.

At this point, I’ll want to validate this information by examining the virtual file stats, in sys.dm_io_virtual_file_stats. Specifically, I’ll be looking for evidence of high latency associated with the read and write operations being performed by SQL Server. At the same time, I’ll be drilling deeper into the problem, since the virtual file stats will tell me how much I/O activity is being performed by SQL Server, and how the I/O load is distributed across files and databases on the SQL Server instance. To corroborate this data further, I may also check the values of the Physical Disk\Avg. Disk Reads/sec and Physical Disk\Avg. Disk Writes/sec PerfMon counters. So, at this stage, let’s say I’ve confirmed high latency associated with read and write operations, and found that a particular database is experiencing a very high level of mainly read-based I/O.

My next step will be to investigate the execution statistics for queries against this database, which are maintained in sys.dm_exec_query_stats for the execution plans that are in the plan cache. I’ll identify the queries that have the highest accumulated physical reads, and then review their associated execution plans, looking for any performance tuning opportunities, either by adding missing indexes to the database, or making changes to the SQL code, in order to optimize the way the database engine accesses the data.

It may be that the code is optimized as far as it can be, but a commonly executed reporting query simply needs to read 6 GB of data from the database, for aggregation, as a part of its execution. If most of this data isn’t found in the buffer cache, it will cause high physical I/O, and will account for the high PAGEIOLATCH_SH waits. At this point, we may need to look at our hardware configuration and see if the actual root of our problem is a lack of memory installed in the server. In order to verify this, I’ll examine the PerfMon memory counters. If I see that the Page Life Expectancy is consistently fluctuating, and the system is experiencing non-zero values for Free List Stalls/sec, and high Lazy Writes/sec, then I can be fairly certain that the buffer pool for the instance is inadequately sized for the amount of data that is being used by the workload. This does not necessarily mean the server needs more memory; it may be that the queries are inefficient and are reading far more data than necessary. To identify the appropriate fix will require further and deeper analysis. This is just one of many possible examples, but it is a real-world example that I have encountered on many occasions while troubleshooting performance problems with SQL Server.

There are a number of points in this troubleshooting process where it would have been very easy to jump to the wrong conclusion regarding the nature of the problem. For example, after reviewing the virtual file statistics and the performance counters for the Physical Disks in the server, it would be easy to conclude that the disk I/O subsystem for the server was inappropriately sized for the amount of work being done, and that additional disks needed to be purchased to handle the disk I/O demands for the server. Unfortunately, scaling up a disk I/O subsystem can be an extremely expensive solution if the problem happens to be a missing index related to a commonly executed query, or buffer pool memory pressure. It is possible that buying a large enough disk configuration will temporarily mask the problem, but since the underlying root cause has not been resolved, you can be sure that the same problem will recur later, as the system continues to grow.

Having provided an overview of my basic approach, the following sections will drill a little deeper into the specific areas of focus, such as wait statistics, virtual file statistics, performance counters, and plan cache usage. I’ll explain the information they offer individually, and how all of this information interrelates, to help you assemble a complete understanding of what is going on inside of a server.

Don’t forget the obvious:

Just a gentle reminder: before you get yourself all giddy collecting diagnostic data, make sure you’ve checked for obvious problems. If a user reports that their application is “not working properly,” the first thing you should probably do is to ensure that the SQL Server services are actually running on your server. If you open SQL Server Configuration Manager (SSCM) and find that the status of the Database Engine service, which has a Service Type of SQL Server, is Stopped then this is very likely the cause of the problem, unless the instance is running in a failover cluster, at which point you need to look at the Failover Cluster Manager to identify if the service and its dependent resources are online, and begin troubleshooting why the service fails to start, based on what you find!

Wait Statistics: the Basis for Troubleshooting

One of the first items that I check, when troubleshooting performance problems on a SQL Server, is the wait statistics, which are tracked by the SQLOS during normal operations of any SQL Server.

The SQLOS is a pseudo-operating system that runs as a part of the SQL Server database engine and provides thread scheduling, memory management, and other functions to SQL Server. Normally, such services would, for any processes running inside the operating system, be provided by the operating system. The reason that SQL Server provides its own pseudo-operating system environment is that SQL Server knows how to schedule its tasks better than the Windows operating system does, and the cooperative scheduling that is implemented by the SQLOS allows for higher levels of concurrency than the preemptive scheduling provided by the Windows operating system.

As an example of this, any time that SQL Server has to wait while executing an operation or statement, the time spent waiting is tracked by the SQLOS, as wait time. This data is exposed, for each instance of SQL Server installed on a server, in the sys.dm_os_wait_stats DMV. The cause and length of the various waits that SQL Server is experiencing can provide significant insight into the cause of the performance problems, as long as you understand exactly what the wait statistics are telling you, and know how to correlate the wait information with the additional troubleshooting information such as the PerfMon counters, and other DMVs.

One of the reasons that wait statistics is such a good place to begin troubleshooting SQL Server performance problems is that, often times, the specifics of the problem are not well defined by the users, when reporting the problem. More often than not, the description of the problem is limited to, “x, y, or z process is slower than normal, can you fix it?” One of the easiest ways to troubleshoot an unknown problem with performance is to look at where and why SQL Server actually had to wait to continue execution of its various tasks.

Usually, Windows Server and SQL Server patches will have been regularly applied to the server, so you’ll know how long ago the server was restarted, and therefore over what period the statistics have accumulated (unless someone manually cleared them out – see later). Ideally, you’ll want this period to be longer than around two weeks (in order to ensure the stats cover the entire workload), but not so long that the data becomes hard to analyze. In the latter case, you might also consider capturing the values, waiting a period, capturing again and comparing the two.

Diagnosing wait statistics for a single instance of SQL Server is no small task. Often times, the information provided by the wait statistics is only a symptom of the actual problem. To use this wait information effectively, you need to understand the difference between resource (i.e. traceable to a hardware resource) and non-resource waits in the system, and the other outputs provided by SQL Server, in relation to the wait information that is being tracked by the SQL Server instance overall.

As a part of the normal operations of SQL Server, a number of wait conditions exist which are non-problematic in nature and generally expected on the server. These wait conditions can generally be queried from the sys.dm_os_waiting_tasks DMV for the system sessions, as shown in Listing 1.1.

Listing 1.1: Discovering system session waits.

When looking at the wait statistics being tracked by SQL Server, it’s important that these wait types are eliminated from the analysis, allowing the more problematic waits in the system to be identified. One of the things I do as a part of tracking wait information is to maintain a script that filters out the non-problematic wait types, as shown in Listing 1.2.

Listing 1.2: Finding the top ten cumulative wait events.

In general, when examining wait statistics, I focus on the top waits, according to wait_time_ms, and look out for high wait times associated with the following specific wait types:

    • Often indicates nothing more than that certain queries are executing with parallelism; CXPACKET waits in the server are not an immediate sign of problems, although they may be the symptom of another problem, associated with one of the other high value wait types in the instance.
    • The tasks executing in the system are yielding the scheduler, having exceeded their quantum, and are having to wait in the runnable queue for other tasks to execute. This may indicate that the server is under CPU pressure.
    • A task had to wait to have a worker bound to it, in order to execute. This could be a sign of worker thread starvation, requiring an increase in the number of CPUs in the server, to handle a highly concurrent workload, or it can be a sign of blocking, resulting in a large number of parallel tasks consuming the worker threads for long periods.
  • LCK_*
    • These wait types signify that blocking is occurring in the system and that sessions have had to wait to acquire a lock of a specific type, which was being held by another database session. This problem can be investigated further using, for example, the information in the sys.dm_db_index_operational_stats.
    • These waits are commonly associated with disk I/O bottlenecks, though the root cause of the problem may be, and commonly is, a poorly performing query that is consuming excessive amounts of memory in the server. PAGEIOLATCH_* waits are specifically associated with delays in being able to read or write data from the database files. WRITELOG waits are related to issues with writing to log files. These waits should be evaluated in conjunction with the virtual file statistics as well as Physical Disk performance counters, to determine if the problem is specific to a single database, file, or disk, or is instance wide.
    • Non-I/O waits for latches on data pages in the buffer pool. A lot of times PAGELATCH_* waits are associated with allocation contention issues. One of the best-known allocations issues associated with PAGELATCH_* waits occurs in tempdb when the a large number of objects are being created and destroyed in tempdb and the system experiences contention on the Shared Global Allocation Map (SGAM), Global Allocation Map (GAM), and Page Free Space (PFS) pages in the tempdb database.
  • LATCH_*
    • These waits are associated with lightweight short-term synchronization objects that are used to protect access to internal caches, but not the buffer cache. These waits can indicate a range of problems, depending on the latch type. Determining the specific latch class that has the most accumulated wait time associated with it can be found by querying the sys.dm_os_latch_stats DMV.
    • This wait is often incorrectly attributed to a network bottleneck. In fact, the most common cause of this wait is a client application that is performing row-by-row processing of the data being streamed from SQL Server as a result set (client accepts one row, processes, accepts next row, and so on). Correcting this wait type generally requires changing the client-side code so that it reads the result set as fast as possible, and then performs processing.

These basic explanations of each of the major wait types won’t make you an expert on wait type analysis, but the appearance of any of these wait types high up in the output of Listing 1.2 will certainly help direct your subsequent investigations. For example, if you see PAGEIOLATCH_* waits you will probably want to make your next focus the virtual file stats, as explained in the previous example.

Conversely, if the primary wait types in the system are LCK_* waits, then you won’t want to waste time looking at the disk I/O configuration, but instead focus on discovering what might be causing blocking inside the databases on the server. When LCK_* wait types crop up, I tend to jump immediately into more advanced troubleshooting of that specific problem, and begin looking at blocking in the system using the sys.dm_exec_requests DMV, and other methods, rather than strictly adhering to my normal methodology. However I may, depending on what I find, double back to see what other problems are in the system.

After fixing any problem in the server, in order to validate that the problem has indeed been fixed, the wait statistics being tracked by the server can be reset using the code in Listing 1.3.

Listing 1.3: Clearing the wait statistics on a server.

One of the caveats associated with clearing the wait statistics on the server, is that it will take a period of time for the wait statistics to accumulate to the point that you know whether or not a specific problem has been addressed.

Virtual File Statistics

A common trap in my experience, when using wait statistics as a primary source of troubleshooting data, is that most SQL Servers will demonstrate signs of what looks like a disk I/O bottleneck. Unfortunately, the wait statistics don’t tell you what is causing the I/O to occur, and it’s easy to misdiagnose the root cause.

This is why an examination of the virtual file statistics, alongside the wait statistics, is almost always recommended. The virtual file statistics are exposed through the sys.dm_io_virtual_file_stats function which, when passed a file_id (and possibly database_id), will provide cumulative physical I/O statistics, the number of reads and writes on each data file, and the number of reads and writes on each log file, for the various databases in the instance, from which can be calculated the ratio of reads to writes. This also shows the number of I/O stalls and the stall time associated with the requests, which is the total amount of time sessions have waited for I/O to be completed on the file.

Listing 1.4: Virtual file statistics.

What I’m primarily looking at in the results is patterns of activity on the file, whether heavy-read or heavy-write, and at the average latency associated with the I/O, as this will direct further investigation and possible solutions.

If the data and log files are on a shared disk array in the server, and the calculated avg_total_latency is the same across all of the databases, and higher than what is acceptable for the specific workload, then the problem may be that the workload has outgrown the disk I/O subsystem.

However, if the server hosts a database that is used for archiving data to slower storage, for year-on-year reporting, then it may be that having PAGEIOLATCH_* waits in the database is entirely normal, and the io_stall information for the specific database files may lead us to determine that the waits are most likely attributable to the archiving process. This highlights the fact that it helps to have a sound knowledge of the underlying configuration and type of workload for the server, while you’re troubleshooting the problem.

If a particular file is subject to very heavy read activity (for example a ratio of 10:1, or higher, for the read:write ratio), and is showing high average latency, then I may recommend a RAID change for the disk array, for example from RAID 10 to RAID 5, offering more spindles to share the read I/O.

Hopefully, this discussion has highlighted the key element of effective troubleshooting, which is that you need to examine many “data points” together, in order to arrive at a true diagnosis. The discovery of I/O pressure, revealed by high I/O-related waits, could be caused by inadequate capacity or configuration of the disk subsystem, but its root cause is actually more likely to lie elsewhere, such as in a memory bottleneck in the buffer pool, or excessive index and/or table scans due to poorly written queries (covered in the Plan Cache Usage section) and a lack of indexing.

Performance Counters

Many articles, white papers, and blog posts on the Internet attempt to provide detailed lists of the important performance counters that should be monitored for SQL Server instances, along with general guidelines for acceptable values for these counters. However, if you try to collect and analyze the values for all of the available counters, you’ll quickly find it an overwhelming task.

Personally, at least in the initial stages of my investigation, I rely on a small subset of counters, directly related to SQL Server. At a more advanced stage in the troubleshooting process, I may also begin collecting Windows counters, in order to verify the information that I already have, or to help isolate an edge case problem to a specific cause.

One of my favorite tools, when I get to the point that I need to collect a larger subset of counters, collecting information from Windows as well as SQL Server, is the Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) tool, which has been made available by Microsoft for free on http://pal.codeplex.com.

The tool provides built-in templates that can be exported to create a Performance Collector Set in Windows, each set containing the key counters for a specific product. It includes a template for SQL Server 2005 and 2008. The greatest benefit of this tool is that it also has built-in threshold templates that can be used to process the performance counter data after it has been collected. These can be used to produce a detailed report, breaking down the data into time slices and so automating the analysis of the data into periods of time and activity. If you want to know more about all of the counters related to SQL Server performance, what they mean, and what Microsoft currently says the threshold values for those counters are, I would recommend downloading the tool and taking a look at all the information contained in the SQL Server threshold file.

Nevertheless, the counters I investigate initially are limited to those related to specific areas of SQL Server, and are ones that have proven themselves over the years to provide information critical to determining how to continue with the troubleshooting process. The counters are all available from within SQL Server through the sys.dm_os_performance_counters DMV and can be queried using T-SQL alone.

One of the challenges with querying the raw performance counter data directly is that some of the performance counters are cumulative ones, increasing in value as time progresses, and analysis of the data requires capturing two snapshots of the data and then calculating the difference between the snapshots. The query in Listing 1.5 performs the snapshots and calculations automatically, allowing the output to be analyzed directly. There are other performance counters, not considered in Listing 1.5, which have a secondary, associated base counter by which the main counter has to be divided to arrive at its actual value.

Listing 1.5: SQL Server performance counters.

The performance counters collected by this script are:

  • SQLServer:Access Methods\Full Scans/sec
  • SQLServer:Access Methods\Index Searches/sec
  • SQLServer:Buffer Manager\Lazy Writes/sec
  • SQLServer:Buffer Manager\Page life expectancy
  • SQLServer:Buffer Manager\Free list stalls/sec
  • SQLServer:General Statistics\Processes Blocked
  • SQLServer:General Statistics\User Connections
  • SQLServer:Locks\Lock Waits/sec
  • SQLServer:Locks\Lock Wait Time (ms)
  • SQLServer:Memory Manager\Memory Grants Pending
  • SQLServer:SQL Statistics\Batch Requests/sec
  • SQLServer:SQL Statistics\SQL Compilations/sec
  • SQLServer:SQL Statistics\SQL Re-Compilations/sec

The two Access Methods counters provide information about the ways that tables are being accessed in the database. The most important one is the Full Scans/sec counter, which can give us an idea of the number of index and table scans that are occurring in the system.

If the disk I/O subsystem is the bottleneck (which, remember, is most often caused by pressure placed on it by a problem elsewhere) and this counter is showing that there are scans occurring, it may be a sign that there are missing indexes, or inefficient code in the database. How many scans are problematic? It depends entirely on the size of the objects being scanned and the type of workload being run. In general, I want the number of Index Searches/sec to be higher than the number of Full Scans/sec by a factor of 800-1000. If the number of Full Scans/sec is too high, I use the Database Engine Tuning Advisor (DTA) or the Missing Indexes feature to determine if there are missing indexes in the database, resulting in excess I/O operations.

The Buffer Manager and Memory Manager counters can be used, as a group, to identify if SQL Server is experiencing memory pressure. The values of the Page Life Expectancy, Free List Stalls/sec, and Lazy Writes/sec counters, when correlated, will validate or disprove the theory that the buffer cache is under memory pressure.

A lot of online references will tell you that if the Page Life Expectancy (PLE) performance counter drops lower than 300, which is the number of seconds a page will remain in the data cache, then you have memory pressure. However, this guideline value for the PLE counter was set at a time when most SQL Servers only had 4 GB of RAM, and the data cache portion of the buffer pool was generally 1.6 GB. In modern servers, where it is common for SQL Servers to have 32 GB or more of installed RAM, and a significantly larger data cache, having 1.6 GB of data churn through that cache every 5 minutes is not necessarily a significant event.

In short, the appropriate value for this counter depends on the size of the SQL Server data cache, and a fixed value of 300 no longer applies. Instead, I evaluate the value for the PLE counter based on the installed memory in the server. To do this, I take the base counter value of 300 presented by most resources, and then determine a multiple of this value based on the configured buffer cache size, which is the ‘max server memory’ sp_configure option in SQL Server, divided by 4 GB. So, for a server with 32 GB allocated to the buffer pool, the PLE value should be at least (32/4)*300 = 2400.

If the PLE is consistently below this value, and the server is experiencing high Lazy Writes/sec, which are page flushes from the buffer cache outside of the normal CHECKPOINT process, then the server is most likely experiencing data cache memory pressure, which will also increase the disk I/O being performed by the SQL Server. At this point, the Access Methods counters should be investigated to determine if excessive table or index scans are being performed on the SQL Server.

The General Statistics\Processes Blocked, Locks\Lock Waits/sec, and Locks\Lock Wait Time (ms) counters provide information about blocking in the SQL Server instance, at the time of the data collection. If these counters return a value other than zero, over repeated collections of the data, then blocking is actively occurring in one of the databases and we can use tools such as the Blocked Process Report in SQL Trace, or the sys.dm_exec_requests, sys.dm_exec_sessions and sys.dm_os_waiting_tasks DMVs to troubleshoot the problems further.

The three SQL Statistics counters provide information about how frequently SQL Server is compiling or recompiling an execution plan, in relation to the number of batches being executed against the server. The higher the number of SQL Compilations/sec in relation to the Batch Requests/sec, the more likely the SQL Server is experiencing an ad hoc workload that is not making optimal using of plan caching. The higher the number of SQL Re-Compilations/sec in relation to the Batch Requests/sec, the more likely it is that there is an inefficiency in the code design that is forcing a recompile of the code being executed in the SQL Server. In either case, investigation of the Plan Cache, as detailed in the next section, should identify why the server has to consistently compile execution plans for the workload.

The Memory Manager\Memory Grants Pending performance counter provides information about the number of processes waiting on a workspace memory grant in the instance. If this counter has a high value, SQL Server may benefit from additional memory, but there may be query inefficiencies in the instance that are causing excessive memory grant requirements, for example, large sorts or hashes that can be resolved by tuning the indexing or queries being executed.

Plan Cache Usage

In my experience, the Plan Cache in SQL Server 2005 and 2008 is one of the most underused assets for troubleshooting performance problems in SQL Server. As a part of the normal execution of batches and queries, SQL Server tracks the accumulated execution information for each of the plans that is stored inside of the plan cache, up to the point where the plan is flushed from the cache as a result of DDL operations, memory pressure, or general cache maintenance. The execution information stored inside of the plan cache can be found in the sys.dm_exec_query_stats DMV as shown in the example query in Listing 1.6. This query will list the top ten statements based on the average number of physical reads that the statements performed as a part of their execution.

Listing 1.6: SQL Server execution statistics.

The information stored in the plan cache can be used to identify the most expensive queries based on physical I/O operations for reads and for writes, or based on different criteria, depending on the most problematic type of I/O for the instance, discovered as a result of previous analysis of the wait statistics and virtual file statistics.

Additionally, the sys.dm_exec_query_plan() function can be cross-applied using the plan_handle column from the sys.dm_exec_query_stats DMV to get the execution plan that is stored in the plan cache. By analyzing these plans, we can identify problematic operations that are candidates for performance tuning.

Query performance tuning:

A full discussion of query performance tuning is beyond the scope of this book. In fact, several notable books have been written on this topic alone, including “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled” and (“Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2008: T-SQL Querying”.

The information in the sys.dm_exec_query_stats DMV can also be used to identify the statements that have taken the most CPU time, the longest execution time, or that have been executed the most frequently.

In SQL Server 2008, two additional columns, query_hash and query_plan_hash, were added to the sys.dm_exec_query_stats DMV. The query_hash is a hash over the statement text to allow similar statements to be aggregated together. The query_plan_hash is a hash of the query plan shape that allows queries with similar execution plans to be aggregated together. Together, they allow the information contained in this DMV to be aggregated for ad hoc workloads, in order to determine the total impact of similar statements that have different compiled literal values.


This article has outlined my basic approach to investigating performance problems in SQL Server. This approach is more or less the same, regardless of whether it is a server I know well, or one I’m investigating for the first time, with no prior knowledge of the health and configuration of the SQL Server instance it houses. Based on the information gathered using this methodology, more advanced diagnosis of the identified problem areas can be performed.

The most important point that I want to stress is that no single piece of information in SQL Server should be used to pinpoint any specific problem. The art of taming an unruly SQL Server is the art of assembling the various pieces of the puzzle so that you have a complete understanding of what is going on inside of a server. If you focus only on what is immediately in front of you, you will, in most cases, miss the most important item, which is the true root cause of a particular problem in SQL Server.

This article is adapted, with kind permission of the authors, from the book “Troubleshooting SQL Server: A guide for the Accidental DBA”. It describes in depth the tools and practical techniques for troubleshooting many of the most common causes of SQL Server problems, including high CPU usage, memory mismanagement, missing indexes, blocking, deadlocking, full transactions logs and accidentally-lost data.