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Startup Jobs

August 2, 2012

Are there things you need to make sure are running when your SQL Agent starts? Did you know that you can run a job when the Agent starts?

I haven’t often used this, but there are cases where it was handy. In one system I administered, we wanted very fast inventory lookups for one of our groups. I know that we could have easily let the first few people just wait for their queries, but it constantly generated complaints from workers, and the VP in that area didn’t technically understand why. Explaining buffer pools, and caches weren’t an option.

Our solution was a quick fix, which “hid” the problem. When the instance started, we had a startup procedure that ran, running a few queries that would load lots of data into memory. By the time people could connect to the server, it was usually warm, and complaints went away.

A similar feature exists for SQL Agent. When you build a job, you can select a schedule that runs when the Agent starts. Imagine that I have a procedure that logs when my agent starts. I want this to log the datetime when the agent starts. I know it’s in the errorlogs, but if I have a lot of restarts in a short time, I could lose that information.

I can create a table and procedure to log this:

CREATE TABLE Startups
(
  StartDate DATETIME
)
GO
CREATE PROCEDURE spStartAgent
AS
INSERT Startups SELECT GETDATE()
RETURN
GO

If I create a new job, I can enter a step that runs my job.

I do that, and then click the scheduling tab (in SQL Server 2008 R2). Once I do that, I can drop down the Schedule type box, which defaults to “Recurring”.

startup

In the drop down, the first selection is “Start automatically when SQL Server Agent starts”. If I select this, all the other fields on the form get disabled.

startup2

I named this Agent Startup, so I can re-use this schedule if I need to. Now this schedule will run my job every time the Agent starts.

If I restart my Agent (not my instance), and check my log, sure enough I see a note in my table that logs startups. However the execution of the job isn’t logged in the Agent error log.

startup3

Perhaps another good job would be to copy over the most recent error log into an archive folder, one where a hacker might not think to look. I could even set the rights for the agent to only allow files to be created, not altered or deleted. That way I could retain the file for auditing purposes.

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2 Comments
  1. I set up a start up job that sends me a text message to my phone telling me it started. That way I know when SQL Server restarts

  2. Now that’s an interesting idea.

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