1. Are backups and CHECKDB being done? Before I step out on the wire, I want to know if there’s a safety net. If there’s a recoverability risk, I don’t stop here – I keep looking because the rest of the answers affect the safety net we’re going to put in place.
2. How’s the hardware sizing compared to data size? How much data are we dealing with, measured in both database quantity and total database file size? Then, how does the server horsepower compare – physical or virtual, how many cores do we have, and how much memory? (In a perfect world I’d know the storage specs too, but that’s usually much harder to get.)
3. What’s the wait time ratio? In any given hour on the clock, how many hours of wait time do we have? If it’s 1 or less, the SQL Server just isn’t working that hard. You can get this from sp_BlitzFirst @SinceStartup = 1. (Again, in a perfect world, I’d have more granular charting like you get from the Power BI Dashboard for DBAs.)
Armed with those 3 things, I have a pretty good idea of whether the server is well taken care of – or not – and if not, whether it’ll be vaguely fast enough to start doing the right database maintenance. For example, if I see an overtaxed, never-backed-up VM with 4 cores, 16GB RAM, and 200 databases totaling 10TB, we’re probably gonna have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting.