Optimising and backing up your database

3 MINS | IT for Business

Many of secureVirtual’s customers use databases to maintain, manage and organise information as part of their business-critical applications. Almost all will either be using Microsoft SQL, MySQL or some other variant of SQL (Structured Query Language). However, all of these databases will have one thing in common – they are all continuously growing and evolving.

As databases grow, over time they become slower – eventually grinding to a halt unless they are optimised or have more server resources assigned to them. This is true of any database, on any platform. For the basis of this post, we are focusing on Microsoft SQL.

Often when this happens within a business-critical application, staff will very likely blame the quality of their office internet connection, their server or even their IT Team! And often quite unfoundedly! As well as employee disgruntlement and negativity, loss of productivity is a big risk – we have seen instances of customer employees “nipping off” to make a cup of tea whilst the query they are running works away! If that query is performed 10x per day, by 10 individuals, that is a lot of wasted time.

Very few companies proactively optimise their databases, mainly because they don’t know about this issue or they are aware, but don’t know where to start. So often, following poor advice, they throw money at server resources to try to get around the problem – but that is all it is, getting around the problem, it doesn’t fully resolve it.

Additionally, throwing more CPU at the problem is a very inefficient and costly way to run an SQL database and, ultimately, organisations will still have a slow performing, unmanaged and sub-optimal database.

A better option is to optimise the database such that it can perform computations in a flash! Right then, so how do you do this and where do you start? There are specific tools that can identify the most frequent database queries (i.e. most popular, and by length of time taken to perform each query) and subsequently optimised – e.g. re-indexing could be one way to improve performance.

It is also important for businesses to backup their database in case of corruption, server failure or other technical problems. To do so requires a suitable backup tool and, ideally, one which can provide certainty that the backup is a bona fide copy without any problems, i.e. the data is not corrupt and therefore suitable to restore from, if required. This was a key part of our decision when looking for a backup tool. We wanted a test feature that could confirm that any backup copies were likely to work upon restoration. In addition, it is vital that backups do not exceed the backup window, minimising risk of backup failure or loss of access to staff (or customers, depending on the function of the application/database).

We set about reviewing suitable tools on the market for MS SQL database optimisation – monitoring & management, and specialist SQL backup tools with built-in restoration testing and encryption capabilities. We identified 3 options for trial in-house, and from there we selected Redgate as our preferred supplier, specifically, various components of the Redgate SQL Toolbelt suite.

Redgate logo In addition to Redgate fulfilling our functional and technical requirements, we were impressed with their longstanding brand, fair pricing and partner support. This gives our customers an additional level of confidence and assurance that secureVirtual are a safe pair of hands for the support and management of their database.

secureVirtual have a number of customers taking advantage of our in-house SQL support engineers, working with the Redgate product stack. What’s more, we are extremely proud to say that in every case, we have been able to increase the query return speed, improve the backup window or reduce the backup failure rate!

If you would like to understand how sV (and Redgate) could support your business-critical database and applications, please get in touch now – we’d love to hear from you!

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