Five Favorite Free SQL Server Downloads

SQL Server

So you’re lazy and you’re company’s broke – what to do?  Here’s my favorite free downloads to help manage SQL Server:

Understand execution plans with SQL Sentry Plan Explorer – I dunno about you, but viewing execution plans in SQL Server Management Studio is a pain in my rear.  The scrolling sucks, the cost numbers are painful to read, and I can’t quickly get to the root of the problem.  SQL Sentry Plan Explorer opens execution plans and gives you much better visibility into the real problem.  You do have to save the execution plan in SSMS to an XML file, then open it with Plan Explorer, but that’s the only awkward part of the process.  Once the bad plan is open in Plan Explorer, just right-click on it and the fun starts.  When I’m tuning a server with slow IO, I can show the costs by IO only, not CPU – a big timesaver for me.

Slice and dice trace files with ClearTrace – ClearTrace is my go-to tool every single time I run a trace.  It’s easy to use and helps me get to the bottom of performance problems fast.  ClearTrace is a labor of love from Bill Graziano, the Executive Vice President of the Professional Association for SQL Server.  Bill’s a consultant who gives away software to the community and gives his time, too.  What a guy!

Get deeper insights into trace files with the Qure Workload Analyzer – If any free product ever needed a better web page, it’s this one.  When the Ami Levin of DBSophic showed me this tool at SQLbits, I nearly fell out of my chair.  It does a great job of comparing trace files to show whether your performance has gotten better or worse.

Analyze traces with Quest’s – This one isn’t a download – it’s an upload.  Register for a free account, and you can upload your trace files to Project Lucy for analysis.  It’s very much a version 1.0 product, and it doesn’t provide a lot of in-depth analysis yet, but it’s quick and easy.  To get the best results, you’ll need to use their trace file template to capture specific events.

Improve SSMS with the SSMS Tools Pack – It’s got tons of features, but this one alone should sell you: it tracks all of the queries you run, and you can search through all of your past queries quickly and easily.  You’re not bothering to save all those queries you write, and you should, but you won’t – so grab this free tool instead.  Stay lazy, my friends!

More Free Tools for Slow SQL Servers

sp_Blitz®: Free SQL Server Health Check – Our app1 that gives you a SQL Server health check in a matter of seconds. It gives you a prioritized list of health and performance issues, plus gives you URLs for more details about each issue. Also available as a stored procedure too.

The Best Free SQL Server Downloads List – You’re trying to manage SQL Server databases, and every time you Google for something, you get overwhelmed with all kinds of free tools, white papers, blogs, and newsletters. There’s so many that suck, and you’re tired of wasting time on bad ones. Get our favorite list of the best free tools.

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