Katie 1 avatar image
Katie 1 asked

RED GATE TOOLS must have for a DBA??

Good Afternoon everybody!

I am required to prepare a report of investigating the best tools for a SQL SERVER DBA, in the market. I have actually worked with the redgate tools to some extent, like for Database comparision and and creation of the test data, in particular.Apart from this, I see that we,at our workplace, would also need a to compress the database backups in future. I personally like with whatever I worked within the redgate tool set,but not sure, if i have to tell my higher officials this is a must have tool in the team. I am sure, I can get the best answers here, as most of you would have opinions about the best ones. Could you all please share your opinions and suggest what could be an alternative, if these tools(redgate tools) are not a must have?

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@timothy - I agree about community wiki. I think it's a nice idea, but I think there are much more suitable mediums for hosting wiki style content - just doesn't seem to sit well on the stack exchange platform
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Just out of curiosity, why make this a community wiki? In fact, I have never been quite clear why any question would be made a community wiki.
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Fatherjack avatar image
Fatherjack answered

As this is a Red Gate sponsored forum (see bottom of page) then you are likely to find lots of responses around the idea of Red Gate making the great tools for the sql dba market. I know there are a few of us that work with Red Gate on EAP and beta versions of their products so we are certainly in favour of them. I will endeavour to be as factual and un-baised as I can...

In-house here we have the SQL Toolbelt licensed for 5 users. We dont pay for any other tools as the toolbelt gives us all the key applications - backup, data generator, sql prompt, sql compare and data compare etc etc. We do use plenty of free tools from Idera, Atlantis and Quest and they are very useful.

Specifically with SQL Backup (currently v4) we use the compression and encryption and get great results. Using the maximum compression setting we can compress a 15GB database better than using native backup and then compressing it. SQL Backup beat it by 600MB! Added to this SQL Backup will do object level restore directly out of its own backup files and SQL Compare and SQL Data Compare will compare live databases to the backed-up version of the database then they make a compelling arguement for being a 'must have'.

Like I say, we are wholly Red Gate here and have been for a year or two so I am not right up-to-date with the latest versions of other vendors products, they may do similar things. With Red Gate its the interaction between the products that makes the whole suite a great asset.

As pointed out by Slick84 - I have made an error in the above paragraph regarding the version of SQL Backup that supports object level restores. I should have said that it is SQL Backup v6 that supports the object level compression, I was thinking about the Level 4 compression that got the figures stated.

apologies for any confusion caused

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Grant Fritchey avatar image
Grant Fritchey answered

FULL DISCLOSURE: I'm a "Friend of Redgate" which means, because I've sung their praises far & wide, I get a little more access than others. Just wanted to say that up front.

The company I work for maintains a number of Red Gate licenses, mainly Toolbelt, but also Prompt, SQL Compare, Data Compare, others. We do this because we find the products do the job we need them to do. Also, the products are easy to use. Finally, the company has always been responsive when there are issues with their tools or our use of their tools.

That said, I don't own, nor would I recommend all their products. For example, I've never been terribly enamored of SQL Response, their monitoring product. I don't think it's going to do what most shops need and certainly won't do what large scale enterprise systems will need. I've never been favorably inclined to SQL Backup. Although, now that they own Hyperbac, I might be buying a Red Gate backup solution. SQL Doc only works well if you've already done all the work to comment your code, add extended properties to your objects, etc., from which it can build a nice document about your database. Otherwise, it's just a list of objects, so not all that useful. Other than that, I've found uses for most of their tools.

It really depends on what your needs are, and your style of working. I've just found Red Gate software, most of it, to be very much in line with my needs and style. That said, I know that, for example, Apex software, has very similar offerings that are in many ways absolutely as good as Red Gate, and in some ways, probably, better. But, I've had great experiences with the Red Gate people and company and will continue to use, and support, their products until something changes.

As for monitoring, it kind of depends on what you want to monitor and how you want to deal with it, but the two products I like currently are Idera's Diagnostic Manager and Confio's Ignite. These two products do similar stuff, but in very different ways. You may find one more suited to you than the other. My company uses Microsoft System Center Operations Manager for some of our system monitoring as well. It's a great tool, but could be overkill depending on your needs.

That's my 1.5 cents.

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Matt Whitfield avatar image
Matt Whitfield answered

There are lots of tool vendors out there, you just have to look at what you need. There is my company, Apex, Idera, Quest. Some are better than others, and some cost a lot more than others. The Red Gate tools are certainly of a good quality, and a 'safe bet' - but they are certainly not the only choice...

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David Wimbush avatar image
David Wimbush answered

I use SQL Data Compare, which is very handy.

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Håkan Winther avatar image
Håkan Winther answered

I can really recommend Red-Gate tools! I think it is a must have tool. It is cheap, and very powerful compared to competitors. Many of my clients have moved from Veritas backup to Red-gate backup because of the speed and the compression. With this tool they actually save money and have higher security because of the short restore time.

As for the compare tools, they make the life as a DBA a lot easier because of the possibility to compare databases with other databases or scripts, with the option to connect the compare tool to Team foundation server. It is also easy to deploy changes to the databass.

Other nice tools are the object level restore and log rescue, and thankfully I have never had any use for them.

The support team at Red-gate should also have some credit! I think they answer any questions very fast (and i don't even live in the same timezone).

And yes, as someone pointed out, this is a sponsored site from Red-gate, but I work at a independent company with SQL server as a speciallity.

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Out of interest - does SQL Compare do filegroups properly these days, or does it still remap everything to PRIMARY by default and then complain when you turn that option off?
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DaniSQL avatar image
DaniSQL answered

I have no specific recommendation for you but here is what I am using right now.

I use Idera's SQL Diagnostic Manager to monitor production instances and Idera's SQLAdmin toolset to do some quick tasks and I like'em both. From Redgate the only product I am familiar with is SQL Search(which is a free tool). You can also check out QUEST, APEX and Atlantis products. I have tried Quests spotlight and it does the job but i found it a bit intrusive. spotlight installs databases on each server and has a little additional performance overhead so we chose to go with Idera's Diagnostic manager.

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TimothyAWiseman avatar image
TimothyAWiseman answered

First, I do not think there are any must-have tools for SQL Server at all. It comes with everything you really need. This is in contrast to mysql and Oracle. While both of those are excellent database products, they expect you to have additional 3rd party tools and using them without extra tools is very challenging. SQL Server comes with enough of a tool set automatically that you don't necessarily need anything else.

With that said, there are a lot of tools that will make a DBA's job easier. I think Red Gate Backup is the most important. It makes it much easier to do many things with backups. With that said, you can do everything you need without it, especially if you are on SQL Server 2008 which adds compression options for backups.

Unlike Grant, I am a fan of SQL Response, but note that you need to be careful how you configure it. If you do not configure it carefully, it can cause enormouse network traffic, which might have your network admin coming to ask you some questions about why your network usage more than tripled. (Yes, this happened to me when I was first evaluting this)

The SQL Tool Belt has most of the tools I would recommend personally.

Of course, it is important to note that Red Gate is definitely not the only tool provider that is out there, but they are the one I have the most experience with and I have been very happy with their products and thier customer support. The few non-Red Gate tools I use with SQL Server tned to be fairly specialized for things like using SQL Server with Python.

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Katie 1 avatar image
Katie 1 answered

Thank you all. All the answers are appreciated.

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Phil Factor avatar image
Phil Factor answered
I love reading reviews of people's experiences with SQL tools. I wonder if would be a good place to do them. The Question/Answer format might make this a rather difficult thing to achieve, but there are plenty of plusses to using For example, We could have several reviews as answers and vote for the best review! The thought that occurs to me is that to do justice to a tool, you have to be using it pretty often and intensively in the course of real work, so there are only a few reviews in each of us. We must therefore rely on reviews coming from the community, rather than experienced authors.
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