When was the last time you used an application at work? Every day, companies rely on applications, which in turn depend on servers to function. If the performance of these servers isn’t maintained properly, then the user experience of connected applications could suffer. In this article, we’re going to look at the top SQL Server monitoring tools for organizations using SQL servers.
Here is our list of the 10 best SQL monitoring tools:
- SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer (FREE TRIAL) A query performance monitor compatible with SQL Server, MySQL, Azure, DB2, SAP ASE, and AWS.
- ManageEngine Applications Manager (FREE TRIAL) A specialized monitor for SQL Server, other DBMSs, system applications, and servers. Installs on Windows Server and Linux.
- Site24x7 SQL Server Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) A server monitoring system that also supervises all of the applications that support user interfaces, including SQL Server databases. This is a cloud-based service.
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor A network monitoring tool that can monitor SQL performance for Microsoft SQL, MySQL, Oracle SQL, and PostgreSQL.
- Redgate SQL Monitor An SQL monitoring tool with customizable alerts and reports.
- dbWatch A database performance monitor that can monitor MS SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, Azure, Sybase, and PostgreSQL.
- Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager Database monitor with performance recommendations and predictive alerts.
- dBForge Monitor (Free Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio Add-On) An SQL performance analyzer that can monitor CPU utilization, memory utilization, disk activity, read and write latencies, and more.
- Spiceworks A network and server monitoring tool that can automatically discover SQL databases.
- SentryOne SQL Sentry A database monitor for SQL with automated alerts and responses.
The best SQL server monitoring tools
SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer is a database monitoring tool that can monitor SQL performance in real-time. It can track metrics including Queries, Waits, Users, Applications, Client Machines, and more.
The software has a number of features that help you to resolve performance issues when they occur. Blocking and deadlock analysis allows you to view the server blocking hierarchy(those objects, which are blocking another). More generally SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer can also highlight inefficient SQLs to make table tuning easier.
Alerts keep you updated on performance issues. The alert system is based on anomaly detection, which uses an intelligent algorithm to generate notifications when database performance deviates from normal parameters. The tool prioritizes alerts so you can deal with the most significant issues first.
SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer is ideal for companies that want one of the top SQL server monitoring tools. The product is compatible with MySQL, Oracle, DB2, and SAP ASE databases. Prices start at $2,045 (£1,583). You can download a 14-day free trial of the program from this link here.
The Applications Manager from ManageEngine includes specialized functions for monitoring databases. The software will monitor SQL Server databases as well as a long list of other DBMSs, including Oracle, SAP, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB. This means that the Applications Manager will effortlessly monitor a mixed-vendor environment, covering databases from different brands all on the same package.
The screens for the database monitoring service are all bundled together in one tabbed screen. Leaving the database monitoring section of the Applications Manager, the user gets access to server monitoring functions and sections of the software that cover other applications, such as web servers and virtualization systems.
The tool tracks live statuses of all databases operating on a server. This summary view gives a good idea of the suitability of the host to support all of the load put on it. The DBA can drill down through database type, such as SQL Server, and then through to each individual instance.
The Applications Manager includes performance analysis features, such as synthetic testing of database structures so that developers can put their queries and database objects to the test before releasing them to the public. This enables performance tuning to be carried out without having to burden users with inefficient queries or badly constructed objects.
ManageEngine produces a long list of infrastructure monitoring tools and they are all able to work together in order to ensure a seamless resource management service. The ManageEngine Applications Manager installs on Windows Server and Linux. It is available for a 30-day free trial.
Site24x7 monitors all of the services that support a front-end all the way down to the operating system of the host. This collection of applications includes databases. The Site24x7 system can be expanded by integrations, which add special monitoring capabilities to the base package. These integrations are free add-ons and there is one for SQL Server monitoring.
The Site24x7 system is based in the cloud. All of the processing to generate statistics and data visualizations is performed on the Site24x7 servers. The console for Site24x7 can be accessed by any standard web browser from anywhere. There is one part of the Site24x7 monitoring system that needs to be installed on-premises. This is a data collector and it uploads statistics to the Site24x7 server over a secure connection.
The SQL Server monitor operates on several levels. It examines the execution of SQL queries on all of the enrolled SQL Server database instances and spots execution errors. It also monitors the structure of the database, watching how its transactions perform, such as I/O and disk usage. The SQL Server monitor also looks underneath the database management system and identifies all of the physical server resources that each database process accesses.
The Site24x7 monitoring strategy identifies dependencies between applications and system resources. This makes it easier to discover the root cause of front-end performance problems. The ability to set performance and resource availability thresholds is another big advantage of this system. When a threshold is crossed, the system raises an alert, which is shown on the screen and also forwarded as notifications by email or SMS message to key staff.
The automated monitoring procedures in Site24x7 Infrastructure let technicians get on with other tasks because they know if a problem with their database arose, they would be drawn back to the monitoring dashboard and have enough time to head off disaster.
Site24x7 Infrastructure is a subscription service that can be enhanced with extra add-on services. You can begin with a 30-day free trial of the monitoring system.
Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is a unified network monitoring system that can monitor servers and other infrastructure. With PRTG Network Monitor, you can analyze Microsoft SQL, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle SQL servers for signs of performance degradation.
Each type of SQL server has its own pre-configured sensor on the PRTG Network Monitor. Sensors are monitoring interfaces where you can view performance data. There are multiple sensors including Microsoft SQL v2 Sensor, Oracle SQL v2 Sensor, MySQL v2 Sensor, and PostgreSQL Sensor.
The Microsoft SQL v2 Sensor displays information such as execution time of database requests, the execution time of the defined query, number of rows addressed by the query, and more.
There is also an alert system so that you don’t have to manually stay on top of every performance issue live. Alerts tell you by email, SMS, Slack message, and push notification when a server’s performance has moved outside of a normal threshold. Alerts can be configured according to your needs.
PRTG Network Monitor is a great low-cost tool for monitoring SQL servers. The tool is free for users with less than 100 sensors. Paid versions of PRTG Network Monitor start at $1,600 (£1,238) for five sensors and one server installation. You can download the 30-day free trial.
Redgate SQL Monitor is a tool used to monitor SQL server performance. Redgate SQL Monitor enables you to analyze database performance and discover the root cause of poor performance.
You can monitor performance right down to the level of individual queries. You can monitor information such as Execution count, Duration, and CPU time. There are Top 10 Queries and Top 10 Waits views to make it easier to prioritize your monitoring activity.
The alerts system has 55 customizable alerts. You can choose which metrics to track yourself or use ones created by the Redgate SQL Monitor community of experts. For example, community settings you can borrow include Monitor Unauthorized Changes to SQL Server Configuration Settings and Detect Suspicious Errors Typical of a SQL Injection Attack. The program sends alerts through email, Slack, PagerDuty, or SNMP traps.
When it comes time to share your findings with your team, you can generate reports. Reports are customizable and you can choose what performance metrics you wish to display. Export reports in PDF format and sends them to your team to report back on performance issues.
You can purchase a Redgate SQL Monitor license for $1,565 (£1,211). The price per license drops to $1,330 (£1,029) for 5-9 users to $1,252 (£969) for 10 plus. You can start the 14-day free trial.
dbWatch is a database monitoring and management solution that monitors SQL Server, Azure, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Sybase, and MySQL databases. With dbWatch you can monitor the performance, availability, and uptime of databases.
When using dbWatch you can use the global view to prioritize performance concerns. For example, you can view instances with the biggest loads, memory usage, disk usage, wait events, and more. The monitoring experience is tailor-made for larger enterprises.
Large companies can manage hundreds or thousands of database instances. The monitoring environment’s architecture has been designed to minimize load and performance issues.
dbWatch is ideal for enterprises operating in hybrid computing environments. The price of a dbWatch license fluctuates depending on the number of licenses you wish to purchase. Between 1-4 licenses the price is $600 (£464), which drops to $540 (£418) for 5-9, and $480 (£371) for 10 or more licenses. You can download the 30-day free trial.
Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager is a real-time database monitoring solution for SQL server databases. The user can monitor the availability and status of databases to find issues like query bottlenecks that slow performance. The software provides you with intelligent recommendations on how to improve performance.
Diagnostics and analytics capabilities help the user to find the cause of performance issues and fix them. For example, if there is a block or deadlock you can view the blocking chain in real-time and refer to historical sessions to find a fix.
The predictive alerts system helps you to diagnose and resolve database issues when they occur. Alerts can be sent as emails, Windows taskbar notifications, event log messages, SQL script execution, and PowerShell script execution. Alert parameters are customizable and categorized according to severity.
There are two add-ons included with Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager: SQL Workload Analysis, and SQL Query Tuner. The former provides wait state analysis for applications and the latter allows you to optimize SQL server queries. You can download the 14-day free trial.
dBForge Monitor is an SQL server performance tool that allows you to monitor SQL server queries, tasks, and bottlenecks. From the Overview tab on the dashboard, you can monitor metrics such as CPU utilization, memory utilization, disk activity, read and write latencies, IO latency, and more. The dashboard breaks this down into charts and diagrams so you can make sense of what’s happening in your environment.
The platform comes with an SQL query performance analyzer, which allows the user to optimize SQL queries. The user can view the estimated cost of queries as well as the amount of time taken to execute the query. Being able to view the query text helps the user to tune the query more easily.
If you want more visibility you can use tabs like the IO Data tab and the Wait Stats tab to view more specific data. Through the IO data Data tab, you can monitor metrics on database files including data reads and writes, input/output operations count, and read/write latency. With the Wait Stats tab, you can pinpoint resources that are taking up server resources and monitor metrics including wait time, resource, and waiting tasks count.
dbForge Monitor is ideal for those companies that want a low-cost SQL monitoring tool. dBForge Monitor is available as a free add-on for Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio. You can download the program for free.
Spiceworks is a free SQL monitoring tool that can automatically discover SQL databases. Spiceworks monitors the health, speed, memory usage, connection, and size of SQL servers. The software features a customizable dashboard that you can create your own widgets for. Dashboards include charts and graphs, which can also be customized according to your requirements.
The alert system produces notifications when the status of a server changes. For example, if a server goes down the program will send you an email alert to notify you. Once you’ve received an alert you can respond.
You can also monitor SQL server instances with the SQL Server Monitor plugin (available from the Spiceworks App Center). The SQL Server Monitor plugin monitors the health of SQL Server instances every minute and presents it on a graph. Unfortunately, the plugin isn’t integrated with the alert system.
Spiceworks stands out from other SQL server monitoring tools because it provides a premium monitoring experience at a low cost. You can download the software for free.
SentryOne SQL Sentry is an SQL performance monitoring tool you can use to fix poorly performing SQL queries. With the Performance Analysis Dashboard, you can view detailed information on the performance of servers throughout your network. If you switch to the Top SQL view you can monitor high impact SQL queries and see additional information such as execution plan diagrams, query history, and more.
One of the main issues that plague database performance is server deadlocks and SentryOne SQL Sentry has met this challenge straight on with its Deadlock Analysis feature. You can go to the Deadlocks tab and view the processes and resources involved in creating the deadlocks. Color-Coded Deadlock diagrams denote issues in red so you can find the root cause more easily.
When it comes to resolving performance issues SentryOne SQL Sentry has automated responses. Rather than simply generating an alert, the software can automatically respond to performance issues without human intervention. SentryOne SQL Sentry can be configured to execute a command in response problems so you don’t have to manually respond to every issue.
SentryOne SQL Sentry is an SQL performance monitoring tool that’s excellent for enterprises that want to guarantee the best performance they can. To view the pricing information for the platform you will have to contact the company directly. You can download the 14-day free trial.
SQL Server Monitoring Tools: Improve Query Performance
Fine-tuning SQL server performance is about visibility. SQL Server monitoring tools give you the chance to take a microscope to your network and see how efficiently your resources are operating. Finding and fixing inefficient queries helps to keep the service available to everyone who needs it (without aggravating waiting times!)
All of the tools we’ve listed above can help you to monitor SQL performance. Tools like SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer, ManageEngine Applications Manager, Site24x7, Redgate SQL monitor, and SentryOne Sentry all provide an accessible SQL monitoring experience that would function in most enterprise environments.