Checking Who Be Active

After talking about Ola’s MaintenanceSolution for SQL Server, I wanted those new/accidental DBAs out there to make sure they add a very helpful (and wildly used) stored procedure to their toolbox.


Created by Adam Machanic, sp_whoisactive provides the user with all the current active connections running at the time of execution. This can be very useful when trying to identify what may be inflicting pain on your SQL Server or, in some cases, help you figure out who keeps executing that pesky “select * From”. It is easy to use, and is well documented. You can read the documentation here or on Adam’s Github page. He has recently moved his updates to Github, so if you want the most up to date version of sp_whoisactive, go there.

As always, I do want to point out a useful parameter that pulls the sleeping spids out as well, so you can see the connections that are still open, but just waiting for the “next task.” This is an over generalization but the idea is that these could still impact your SQL Server’s performance, even if they are not active currently.

sp_whosisactive @@show_sleeping_spids = 2

We can see the session_id 54 is in a “sleeping” status. While it is not currently querying our database server, at any time, this user could execute a new query. Where this is helpful is sometimes identifying a user or even an application, with an open connection to the server that “recently” executed the query (details in the “sql_text” column of the results). We can see system data of the performance impact the query had, and in some aspect, what to expect next time they do it again. I am over generalizing here, and I am sure some of you are screaming at the screen that I am forgeting about X detail, Y context, etc. But, for those out there not “classically” trained in Database Administration, this is what they need. 

Last Bit

Finally, my last tip, just make sure to install the query on the same database (whether that is your master database or a user database created for your tools) as the rest of the stored procedures you use for the maintenance of your servers. Hopefully this quick post helped someone out there. Thanks again for reading.

Non-Sysadmins can run SPs Too!

One of the things I have been focusing on lately is improving the processes that are currently in place and to automate tasks to give myself (and my colleague) more time focusing on larger projects. Most recently, I began writing some knowledge base for our help desk that would walk agents through basic troubleshooting steps. The hope was to have them gather some information up front (active connections, blocking sessions etc) to help speed up the resolution time for us. Since the agents are not system admins, they lack the necessary rights to gather certain data…or do they?

Parks And Recreation Reaction GIF

The following articles ( Brent Ozar and Adam Machanic) walk through how to create “certificates” that, through steps you can follow through, will allow non-sysadmins the ability to execute specific stored procedures. In my example, I will use sp_whoisactive (sp for activity monitoring), but ANY stored procedure will work.

Creating A Certificate

USE master 

WITH SUBJECT = 'Who is Active', 
--START_DATE = 'If you want the cert to activate at a certain time, enter it here'
EXPIRY_DATE = '9999-12-31' 

Great, now we have the certificate created, we can move on to creating the user from the certificate.

Creating The User

CREATE LOGIN sp_whoisactive_login

Simple enough right? The next bit is to grant permissions, and since I want this to be as “tied down” as much as possible, we are going to grant the login VIEW SERVER STATE. This will grant the ability to return server state information from Dynamic Management Views and Functions, that can be used to monitor the health of a server and diagnose issues. I do not want the agents to have the ability to anything more than that. More on Dynamic Management Views and Functions can be found here.

Granting Permissions

TO sp_whoisactive_login

With the necessary rights applied, we are ready to move to the final step. We will need to add the signature to the actual stored procedure (sp_whoisactive in this case).

Adding A John Hancock

WITH PASSWORD = 'This is the same password you used for the certificate creation' 

I should mention, it would help if you have sp_whoisactive installed first before you execute the last steps. But after that you are done!

Final Remarks

Huge shout out to Brent and Adam for providing the great details on how to utilize this “feature” in SQL Server, and making it easy to implement. As I said earlier, you can really implement this with any stored procedure. In a future post, I will be showing off a simple powershell script that will help you keep track of updating any of your “third-party” stored procedures that you have implemented into your arsenal across multiple servers. Until next time, thanks for reading, leave a comment below, or reach out to me if you have any questions!