The DBA’s Holiday Checklist

Guest Blog Post by Chris Shaw, Xtivia. Chris is an MVP Award Recipient, the author of Pro SQL Server Practices 2012, and he can be reached at or thought his blog..

At this time of year, I look forward to long visits with the relatives, eating more food than should be allowed by law and getting ready for the upcoming year.  The last thing I want to do is take time away from friends and family, so I run one last checklist against my SQL Servers to make sure we are all ready for the holidays.

Before I sign out for my holiday vacation I double-check:

  • My backup processes: Do all the databases have backups and backup plans?
  • Alerts and notifications: Test them, validate that the alerts are trigger when they should be, and that you will be notified of any potential issues such as running out of storage or failing jobs.
  • Points of contact: If something were to happen, do I know how to get in touch with everyone I might need, and do I have the contact information for each, including offsite storage companies, networking staff, and management if I need to escalate an issue?  Do any of my critical points of failure have adjusted hours for the holidays?
  • My backup: I don’t want to be a single point of failure, so I need a plan for who is going to cover me while I am away with the family.  I need to ensure that my backup knows what to do and how to reach me if needed.
  • Maintenance schedules:  Because of the lull in activity during the last week in December for most organizations, many companies find this to be a great opportunity to make changes that might impact the availability of the servers, networks, internet connections.  Do any of these changes impact your area of responsibility?
  • My task list: Is there any opportunity for me to complete tasks while there is a lull in normal operational processing?

Lastly, I double check to make sure I have a gift for my spouse.  I speak from experience when I say that the last thing you want to do not get a gift for your spouse because you were working on an emergency at work.  They are kind to us all year, and they put up with the long hours and middle of the night DBA rescue meetings.  During the holidays, you really don’t want to forget your spouse because you were busy working…again!

With that, I extend to you the warmest of holiday wishes! May your indexes be selective and un-fragmented, your backups be true and your consistency checks come back clean — happy holidays to you and yours on your well-earned break!