TSQL Challenge 7: Listing the 5 biggest tables on the server

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this blog that presents cool T-SQL challenges. I submitted an entry for challenge 7 that asked to write the shortest script to list the 5 biggest tables on a server. Here’s my solution:

create table #temp
	[database] nvarchar(MAX),
	[table] nvarchar(MAX),
	[rows] int,
	[reserved_size] nvarchar(100),
	[data_size] nvarchar(100),
	[index_size] nvarchar(100),
	[unused_space] nvarchar(100)

declare @sql nvarchar(MAX)
set @sql=replace('if !~! not in (!master!,!model!,!msdb!,!tempdb!)
  exec [~].dbo.sp_msforeachtable
    "insert into #temp([table], [rows], [reserved_size], [data_size], [index_size], [unused_space])
      exec [~].dbo.sp_spaceused !?!"','!',char(39))

	@command2="update #temp set [database]='~' where [database] is null",

select top(5) [database] as base, [table], [data_size] as size, [rows] as rows
from #temp
order by Cast(LEFT([data_size],len([data_size])-3) as int) desc

drop table #temp

So, I started by creating a temporary table with columns (database, table, rows, reserved_size, data_size, index_size, unused_space) for the output. I used the two undocumented stored procedures sp_MSforeachdb and sp_MSforeachtable to iterate through all the tables in all the databases and executed sp_spaceused as described in the following pseudo code:

foreach(database db in serverDatabases)
  if (db not in 'master', 'msdb', 'model', 'tempdb')
    foreach(table t in db.Tables)
       insert into #temp (table, rows, reserved_size, data_size, index_size, unused_space)
         execute sp_spaceused for table 't'

       --at this point, our #temp table will be populated with data for each table
       --but the 'database' column will be 'null', so now replace it with the name of database
       update #temp
         set [database] = 'db' where [database] is null

The most important part is that I am using an update operation for storing the database name in the temporary table. Thanks to Microsoft that we can give a set of 3 commands to the above mentioned undocumented stored procedures. Another hard part was to create a single t-sql statement that iterates for all tables inside a database and execute sp_spaceused. I did this by a complex combination of single quotes, double quotes and the replace function. In the last, I am just selecting the top(5) rows ordered by size.

To enter the contest, I reduced the script length by replacing all the variable/column names with a single length identifier. Here was my final submission:

create table #t(d nvarchar(MAX),t nvarchar(MAX),r int,x nvarchar(100),s nvarchar(100),y nvarchar(100),z nvarchar(100))
declare @s nvarchar(MAX)
set @s=replace('if !~! not in (!master!,!model!,!msdb!,!tempdb!) exec [~].dbo.sp_msforeachtable "insert into #t(t, r,x,s,y,z) exec [~].dbo.sp_spaceused !?!"','!',char(39))
EXEC sp_MSForEachDB @command1=@s, @command2="update #t set d='~' where d is null", @replacechar='~'
select top(5) d as base, t as [table], s as size, r as rows from #t order by Cast(LEFT(s,len(s)-3) as int) desc
drop table #t

Let’s wait and see the solution of other players.

T-SQL: sp_MSForEachDB and sp_MSForEachTable – Undocumented but very powerful stored procedures

I recently came across the following two undocumented stored procedures:

  • sp_MSforeachdb
  • sp_MSforeachtable

These stored procedures take a command (infact upto 3 commands) and run it for all the objects (databases on a server or tables inside a database, depending upon the stored procedure). Here are a few examples of the usage of these stored procedures (Note that these statements may take long duration depending upon the number of databases/tables):

--Display no. of objects per databases
exec sp_MSforeachdb 'select "?", count(*) as TotalObjects from [?].dbo.sysobjects'

--Display no. of rows per table
exec sp_MSforeachtable 'select "?" as TableName, count(*) as TotalRows from ?'

--Display total space used for each table
exec sp_MSforeachtable 'exec sp_spaceused [?]'

Beware, never ever underestimate the powers of these stored procedures. In a single line, you can:

  • Destroy all the databases on a server
  • Delete all the data inside all the tables
  • Drop all the tables
  • Even more dangerous things I can’t think at this time

In this small post, I am not going to demonstrate how to do the above mentioned tricks but make sure you are extremely cautious when using the above stored procedures.

C#: Executing batch T-SQL Scripts containing GO statements

At times, we developers need to run SQL scripts from our .NET applications, in, say Installer Applications. This is not always easy since large SQL scripts typically contain a GO statement to separate individual batches and our ADO.NET classes under System.Data namespace do not know how to handle it. The reason is that the “GO” statement is not a native T-SQL statement but rather used by SQL Server Management Studio to terminate the batches it is sending to the server. To tackle this situation, we have the following choices:

1. Split the script on “GO” command into smaller scripts and execute those individual scripts

A very primitive solution would be to split the script on “GO” text and run the individual sub-scripts in sequence. The problem is how to get a robust split mechanism. Generally, a line break before and after the GO works fine. Here’s how to do this:

//get the script
string scriptText = GetScript();

//split the script on "GO" commands
string[] splitter = new string[] { "\r\nGO\r\n" };
string[] commandTexts = scriptText.Split(splitter,
foreach (string commandText in commandTexts)
  //execute commandText

The above code can produce unnecessary splitting in some situations, thus creating an incorrect SQL Command. A more better approach would be to use Regular Expressions. Again, the problem is how to create a pattern that is robust enough to tackle all sort of scripts. Lets look into the second solution now.

2. Use the Server class from SQL Server Management Objects (SMO)

For this, we need to add the following references in our project:

  • Microsoft.SqlServer.Smo
  • Microsoft.SqlServer.ConnectionInfo
  • Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Sdk.Sfc

After that, we can simply execute the entire script (with all the “GO” statements) using the code below:

string connectionString, scriptText;
SqlConnection sqlConnection = new SqlConnection(connectionString);
ServerConnection svrConnection = new ServerConnection(sqlConnection);
Server server = new Server(svrConnection);

This is a fairly generic and robust solution and the great thing is that it does not require any change in our original script. Hooray!!!