13 Questions to Ask Before You Touch a Database Server

SQL Server

I’ve touched a lot of SQL Servers over the years. After my share of trips to HR for inappropriate touching, here’s the questions I ask first these days:

  1. Is this in production now?
  2. If this goes down, what apps go down with it?
  3. When those apps go down, is there potential for loss of life or money?
  4. How sensitive are these apps to temporary slowdowns?
  5. When was the last successful backup?
  6. When was the last successful restore test?
  7. Is everyone okay losing data back to the last successful backup?
  8. When was the last successful clean corruption test?
  9. Do we have a development or staging environment where I can test my changes first?
  10. Is there any documentation for why the server was configured this way?
  11. What changes am I not allowed to make?
  12. Who can test that my changes fixed the problem?
  13. Who can test that the apps still work as designed, and that my changes didn’t have unintended side effects?
Previous Post
Pull Request 101 for DBAs Using GitHub
Next Post
Logical Query Processing

10 Comments. Leave new

  • This -> “After my share of trips to HR for inappropriate touching”

    Jumped straight out at me :-O

    Lol =P

  • Great list! I also like to add “Who do I talk to if I have questions?” And I want at least a DBA, a Dev and a business person if at all possible.

    • “8.When was the last successful clean corruption test?” -> Is this something other than using DBCC CHECKDB?

  • Rudy Panigas
    July 13, 2015 12:06 pm

    Here is a few more questions I like to ask.

    Is there any type of replication in place and if so can I stop it while troubleshooting?

    Great list!!

    Thanks 🙂

  • Jamie Tillman
    July 13, 2015 2:11 pm

    Those are actually very useful questions to ask when you’re given access to fix anything IT-related, from installing software on a desktop PC to receiving commit privileges on a source control repository…

  • Very nice list! I would add is there any historical data on performance over the past quarter or since the last major upgrade.



  • James Lupolt
    July 13, 2015 6:04 pm

    I like this list. I tend to ask my question 1 again in between every other question.

  • Hi,

    In this questionnaire i have question!!

    How would you test you changes done for whole system slowdown problem in test\dev server instead of Production server?!

  • Today our support team worked with a customer installing a database update to our product at their site. Something had gone wrong and they were trying to restore the DB backup that occurs at the start of the update process. No problem, right? Well they couldn’t find the backup. After an hour of investigation they found another DBA had noticed the server getting low on space and “fixed” the problem by deleting the just-completed backup.

    I’m thinking the DBA hadn’t ready your post.

  • I’d add “Who can we contact on the storage team, and are they cooperative?”

    Great list Brent!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.