Frequently Asked Questions About SQL ConstantCare®

Getting ready to take the plunge and become a SQL Server expert? You’ve probably got questions like these:

“OMG, their server is made of grilled cheese.”

How do I send in my server’s data?

You’ll install a featherweight collector app on your desktop (not the SQL Server) that runs diagnostic queries once per day. It’s super-low-impact – we’re not collecting Profiler or XE traces or anything like that.

Once you’re a member, you can read the Quick Start Guide to using our collector, and here’s a troubleshooting guide.

How many servers can I analyze?

All of ’em. SQL ConstantCare® is priced per email address where we send the data, not per-server. We wanted to make it easy to get analysis on all of your servers, including your dev and DR boxes.

You’re absolutely welcome to use a distribution list to send the emails to multiple folks, and you only have to pay for one email address. (Make it easy on us, and we’ll make it easy on you too!)

What versions of SQL Server are supported?

We support everything Microsoft does:

  • SQL Server 2008 and newer (on-premises and in VMs, like AWS EC2, Azure VMs, and Google Compute Engine)
  • Azure SQL DB, Hyperscale, and Managed Instances
  • Amazon RDS for SQL Server

Sorry, no SQL Server 2005 or older. If Microsoft can’t support it, neither can we, and neither should you.

How much overhead is the data collection?

Really, really low because this isn’t a monitoring app. We only collect a limited amount of data once per day, and you can pick the time.

If you want real-time 24/7 coverage with more details (which honestly requires more overhead), we’d recommend a monitoring tool instead. We’re big fans of Idera SQL DM, Quest Spotlight, or SentryOne Performance Advisor. Those tools have a higher overhead, but they give you much more granular insight into queries, indexes, 5-minute slices of time, etc.

What data gets collected?

To give you health and performance recommendations, we collect data about your SQL Server’s configuration, wait stats, backups, etc. You can actually see the exact queries we run – after downloading the collector, go into ConstantCare\Resources\Queries. For more information about how it works, read How We Collect, Store, and Transmit Data.

We don’t collect statistics, memory dumps, or heaven forbid, passwords. While some of those things might help us do an even deeper performance analysis, they can be a security and compliance risk for you and your end users. If you want that level of performance analysis, you’re better off hiring us to do a 3-day SQL Critical Care®.

If you’re at all nervous about the contents of what we’re getting, point it at a development server first. After you send the data in, email us, and we’ll forward you back the exact zip file we got from your server.

What’s done with that data?

Big picture: ConstantCare.exe gets diagnostic data from your SQL Server, zips it up into a file, sends that to us where we extract it, load it into a database, run queries against it, and build an email to send to you. Our systems analyze each of your servers individually to give you personal emails with tips on how to make your server faster and more reliable. You are our only customer, and we do not share or sell your server’s raw data.

Your data is anonymized and aggregated so we can combine it with the general population and analyze everybody as a group. We share those reports with you, plus write about them publicly – like trending what performance changes happen after Meltdown/Spectre patches, or what the best hardware seems to be for SharePoint servers of a particular database size.

We do NOT share your raw data. We don’t share it or sell it, and we don’t have “partners” who get your stuff. The only time we share data is aggregated data that you see on your own reports (and other customers see on their own reports about how to make their servers better), and publicly in the form of blog posts, webcasts, and white papers.

You are our only customer. There’s a saying – “If you’re not the customer, you’re the product,” meaning that if you get something for free, your data’s probably getting sold. Around here, you are the customer, and our entire business revolves around making you happy. Sharing or selling your data wouldn’t make you happy, so we don’t do it.

Can I send you my server’s data in some other form?

In order to keep costs down and do the analysis fast, we need to use our own collector. If you’d like to send us the data in other formats like Excel or DMV queries, check out our 3-day SQL Critical Care®. During that, we work together interactively to find the root cause of your SQL Server’s pains and get you permanent relief.

Got more questions?

Email us, or hit the #BrentOzarUnlimited room in Slack.

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