Migrating SQL Server Databases – The DBA's Checklist (Part 2)

Continuing from Part 1  , our Migration Checklist continues:

Step 5: Update statistics

It is always a good idea to update the statistics of the database that you have just installed or migrated. To do this, run the following command against the target database:


The sp_updatestats system stored procedure runs the UPDATE STATISTICS command against every user and system table in the database.  However, a word of caution: running the sp_updatestats against a database with a compatibility level below 90 (SQL Server 2005) will reset the automatic UPDATE STATISTICS settings for every index and statistics of every table in the database. You may therefore want to change the compatibility mode before you run the command.

Another thing you should remember to do is to ensure the new database has its AUTO_CREATE_STATISTICS and AUTO_UPDATE_STATISTICS properties set to ON. You can do so using the ALTER DATABASE command or from the SSMS.

Step 6: Set database options

You may have to change the state of a database after it has been restored. If the database was changed to single-user or read-only mode before backup, the restored copy will also retain these settings. This may not be an issue when you are manually restoring from Enterprise Manager or the Management Studio since you can change the properties. However, this is something to be mindful of if the restore process is invoked by an automated job or script and the database needs to be written to immediately after restore. You may want to check the database’s status programmatically in such cases.

Another important option you may want to set for the newly restored / attached database is PAGE_VERIFY. This option specifies how you want SQL Server to ensure the physical integrity of the data. It is a new option from SQL Server 2005 and can have three values: CHECKSUM (default for SQL Server 2005 and latter databases), TORN_PAGE_DETECTION (default when restoring a pre-SQL Server 2005 database) or NONE.

Torn page detection was itself an option for SQL Server 2000 databases. From SQL Server 2005, when PAGE_VERIFY is set to CHECKSUM, the database engine calculates the checksum for a page’s contents and writes it to the page header before storing it in disk. When the page is read from the disk, the checksum is computed again and compared with the checksum stored in the header. 

Torn page detection works much like the same way in that it stores a bit in the page header for every 512 byte sector. When data is read from the page, the torn page bits stored in the header is compared with the respective sector contents.

When PAGE_VERIFY is set to NONE, SQL Server does not perform any checking, even if torn page data or checksums are present in the page header.  This may not be something you would want to set unless there is a very specific reason.

 Microsoft suggests using the CHECKSUM page verify option as this offers more protection.

Step 7: Map database users to logins

A common database migration issue is related to user access. Windows and SQL Server native logins that existed in the source instance and had access to the database may not be present in the destination. Even if the logins exist in the destination, the mapping between the user accounts and the logins will not be automatic.

You can use a special system stored procedure called sp_change_users_login to address these situations. The procedure needs to be run against the newly attached or restored database and can accept four parameters. Depending on what you want to do, you may be using less than four though.

The first parameter, @Action, can take three values. When you specify @Action = ‘Report’, the system will provide you with a list of database users which are not mapped to any login.

If you want to map a database user to an existing SQL Server login, the value for @Action will be ‘Update_One’. In this case, you will only need to provide the database user name and the login it will map to. So if your newly restored database has a user account called “bob” and there is already a SQL Server login with the same name and you want to map the user to the login, you will execute a query like the following:

        @Action = ‘Update_One’,
        @UserNamePattern = ‘bob’,
        @LoginName = ‘bob’

If the login does not exist, you can instruct SQL Server to create the login with the same name. In this case you will need to provide a password for the login and the value of the @Action parameter will be ‘Auto_Fix’. If the login already exists, it will be automatically mapped to the user account.

Unfortunately sp_change_users_login system stored procedure cannot be used to map database users to trusted logins (Windows accounts) in SQL Server. You will need to follow a manual process to re-map the database user accounts.



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