Automated Server Information Gathering – Part 2

Automatically Gathering Database Size

This article continues the same topic of Automatically Gathering
Server Information. If you want to read the previous articles, click on one of these links:
Getting a Count of Database Users – Part 1


I was recently asked by a collegue how to gather certain information
about a SQL Server on a
periodic basis. He had the need to report on the data as well as store it
for analysis over time.
This article addresses one of those data items: dynamically finding the size
of each database on a server.

In order to get the size of each database dynamically, you have to query
SQL Server internal information that is stored in the master database. In
past, many SQL developers (myself included) have queried the system tables
In this case, you would query master..sysdatabases to get the
database names
and sizes. There is, however, one problem with this method. When SQL Server
v7.0 was released,
some of the definitions of the system tables changed from v6.5 and
as a result many queries that I had written stopped working. It was my fault
because all
SQL Server documentation warns against using the system tables in production
code and
I was forced to modify various stored procedures to work with the new table

If you are not supposed to query system tables directly, then what can
you do?
Starting with v7.x, Microsoft started providing Information
Schema views of system information that you can develop against and that
will be
maintained in future versions. These views are called Information Schema
views because
the “owner” of these views is “Information_Schema”. One
example of
these views is the “Tables” view which provides a list of tables and
in any database. If you run the following query:

Select * from information_schema.tables

You will get a list of tables and views and a few other pieces of
This is useful if you need to work with a list of tables in code. So we
should just
run the following query to get the sizes of our databases:

Select * from master..information_schema.databases

Well, try it and if you get the sizes back, email me and I will rewrite
this article.
When I tried I found there was no “databases” view, much to my
surprise. So are we stuck with
querying the sysdatabases table? I know I told you this was not a
good idea
and not recommended by Microsoft. (And I hope my backup software doesn’t use
this method).

Never fear, there is another method. After a little digging, I produced
the following code:

Create table #mydbs (dbname char( 50), size char( 20), dbowner char( 50), 
dbid int, crdate datetime, status char( 100))

	Insert #mydbs  Exec sp_helpdb

	Select * from #mydbs
	Drop table #mydbs

Why do I create a table? And then why drop it? And why is there an empty
I need this information, right? Actually this is a great technique for
handling result
sets in SQL Server v7.x and below. In SQL Server 2000 we get a table
datatype and can actually pass result sets
in and out of stored procedures, but for now, this is the best method I have
found for handling a
result set inside of a stored procedure.

Since I cannot handle more than a single value in T-SQL (v7.x and below),
I am creating
a temporary table that will hold the results of the stored procedure I can
call. This technique
is not used too much in code I have seen, but is perfectly valid. It is
another form of the
INSERT command that will work like other inserts, but requires the table
schema to match
the result of the stored procedure.

When I started writing this article, I first ran the stored procedure and
then created the
table definition using the results. If you run this batch on your server,
you should see the
same results you would get by running sp_helpdb directly.

So what do you do with these results?

Anything you want! The section of my batch that contains the comment
marks is where the processing
of the result set would go. You could write a query that returns a report on
the database
sizes. Or you could insert this data into a permanent table and track the
space growth trend of each database
over time. There are a variety of ways you can use this data and I will
address one in a future article.

As always, please send me an email with comments, questions, or suggestions. I look forward
to hearing how others use this technique.

Steve Jones
October 2000

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