Servers are some of the most important resources within a network, and the widespread popularity of SQL Servers has made SQL Server monitoring tools a prerequisite for long-term network maintenance.
Using a server monitoring tool to track the health of a server can give you the information needed to address performance concerns. In the long term, nipping performance issues in the bud will keep your network up and running.
Overlooking the importance of SQL Server monitoring can result in performance issues at best and complete downtime at worst; it can cause a server to go down and cost organizations a lot of money.
Here is our list of the best SQL Server monitoring tools:
- SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer for SQL Server EDITOR’S CHOICE This cross-platform tool for Windows Server monitors SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, DB2, SAP ASE, and Cloud servers from one centralized location. Uses machine learning for anomaly detection and provides real-time and historical data.
- Datadog SQL Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) An application performance monitor that includes database monitoring and a specialized integration for SQL Server.
- ManageEngine Applications Manager (FREE TRIAL) Monitors SQL Server databases and underlying server performance. Runs on Windows Server and Linux.
- Paessler SQL monitoring software PRTG (FREE TRIAL) A network, server, and application monitor that examines monitor Microsoft SQL, Oracle SQL, MySQL, and PostgreSQL performance.
- SentryOne SQL Sentry With over 100 alerting conditions, this tool keeps you abreast of SQL server problems.
- dbWatch Database Control A specialized database monitor that offers a unified front end for all of your database instances. Runs on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
- Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager This tool monitors SQL databases in physical and virtual environments including server CPU, memory, hard disk, and network usage.
- Lepide SQL Server Auditing A server auditing package for effectively monitoring SQL instances that run on Windows and Windows Server.
- SQL Power Tools Lightweight agentless SQL monitoring solution that covers Oracle SQL Server, Informix, and Sybase database servers.
- Red-Gate SQL Monitor This tool has 40 pre-configured alerts to monitor memory resource usage, high CPU, disk space, SQL errors, and SQL query performance issues.
- dbForge Monitor Discover CPU utilization, memory utilization, disk activity, and IO latency with this tool.
- Apex SQL Monitor This utility monitors transaction running times, buffer cache hit ratio, available memory, processor utilization, page life expectancy, database size, and log growth.
- Spiceworks SQL Server Monitoring Track metrics like SQL Server size, connection, and speed with this tool.
The best SQL Server monitoring software
When selecting the tools for this article, we took into consideration the performance and features of each tool, their ease of use, their support and documentation, and robustness in use in a wide array of industry use cases.
SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer for SQL Server (DPA) has been designed as a complete server monitoring solution for modern networking. With SolarWinds DPA for SQL Server you can monitor SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, DB2, SAP ASE, and Cloud servers from one centralized location. One of the main focuses of this product is finding the root cause of performance faults.
The user is provided with a data collection engine to view the raw server usage data. This includes a graph detailing how the SQL server performance metrics have changed over time which can be viewed in five unique ways (Summary, CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network). To get to the root cause of performance issues, it allows you to use metrics such as wait times, users, files, and objects to find out what the problem is.
What makes it one of the best SQL Server monitoring tools is that it has a low overhead cost on system resources. This means that you can run the program while having a minimal impact on your network performance.
- Monitors SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, DB2, and SAP ASE
- Oversees on premises, remote, and cloud servers
- Tracks supporting services
- Supports database optimization
SolarWinds DBA is not only scalable but can also be integrated with other tools like SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor and Storage Resource Monitor, meaning that you can expand the monitoring experience based on your own requirements. The price starts at $1,995 (£1,529). There is also a 14-day free trial.
SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer is great for SQL server database performance tuning and optimizations with an intuitive interface that is both powerful and easy to use. Offers real-time and historical analysis, identifies the worst performing SQL and applications, machine learning anomaly detection and graphic visualizations of wait times and more.
Get 14-Day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/database-performance-analyzer
OS: Any physical or virtual Windows or Linux server that supports JRE v11
The Datadog Application Performance Monitor (APM) is able to monitor databases. The Datadog system can be enhanced with specialist plugins, called “integrations” and there is one available for SQL Server.
Data gathering for the monitoring service is performed by an agent but all processing is performed on the Datadog servers. Although the Datadog agents can be installed on Linux as well as Windows, the agent that monitors SQL Server will only install on Windows.
Installing the SQL Server integration doesn’t block the Datadog APM from also monitoring other applications, rather, it adds specialized screens to the console for that account.
The console for Datadog is resident on the cloud server and it can be accessed through any browser. As it does not need to be installed on site, the APM is able to monitor SQL server instances resident on remote sites and also those running on cloud servers.
- Query throughput, query execution performance, connections, or buffer pool usage in real-time
- Turnkey database integration
- Drag-and-drop graphs and widget display
- Intelligent alerts
The Application Performance Monitor is charged for by subscription with a monthly fee and also a lower annual rate available. That is a rate per host. The service is also available with an App Analytics add-on. Datadog APM is available for a 15-day free trial.
ManageEngine produces a range of IT infrastructure monitoring tools and SQL Server monitoring is part of its Applications Manager. This tool can be combined with other monitoring modules from ManageEngine to create a full IT support monitoring and management service.
The monitoring tool watches live database statuses including the performance of database services, such as memory and disk space usage and cache and buffer performance. The Applications Manager also records the utilization of database structures, such as tablespaces, and will warn the DBA if space is running out.
Database tuning services are also included in the SQL Server monitoring service. This includes analysis of database objects per type and also run-throughs of synthetic transactions to test queries on a database to spot which objects are badly implemented. Analysis tools also support SQL tuning.
The SQL Server monitoring section of Applications Manager is tabbed, which makes it easy to switch between screens of live data and access analytical features. The database monitoring capabilities of this tool are not limited to SQL Server. The Applications Manager will monitor a long list of database management systems, including Oracle, SAP, PostgreSQL, and MySQL. So, it is a suitable support service for mixed DBMS environments.
- Live performance monitoring
- Optimization analysis
The ManageEngine Applications Manager monitors server statuses as well, so all of the monitoring capabilities for the statuses of the underlying hardware is included along with the SQL monitoring capabilities with one package. The tool includes a wide range of application monitoring screens and it will monitor those systems that rely on databases, such as web servers. The Applications Manager installs on Windows Server and Linux and ManageEngine makes in available for a 30-day free trial.
Next up we have Paessler SQL monitoring software PRTG, part of the PRTG suite, a network monitor that also offers a range of SQL monitoring features. With this tool, you can monitor Microsoft SQL, Oracle SQL, MySQL, and PostgreSQL for signs of performance degradation. This process is made simple because Paessler SQL monitoring software PRTG has preconfigured sensor templates for all the most popular databases.
Some of the sensors that Paessler SQL monitoring software PRTG comes equipped with out of the box include Microsoft SQL v2 Sensor, Oracle SQL v2 Sensor, MySQL v2 Sensor, PostgreSQL Sensor, and ADO SQL v2 Sensor. Each of these sensors has its own unique view and provides you with the key metrics relating to that individual server. For instance, the Microsoft SQL v2 Sensor tells you the execution time of the request, execution time of the query, number of affected rows, and downtime.
Outside of these unique sensor tools, Paessler SQL monitoring software PRTG also has a range of additional features like notifications. You can schedule alerts to determine when you will receive notifications for performance data events within your SQL Servers. Once an alert has been triggered you will be sent a notification via email or SMS. If you have the PRTG Network Monitor App on iOS and Android, then you can also receive the alert there.
- Monitors SQL Server, Oracle SQL, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and ADO SQL
- Records query execution metrics
- Supports query optimization
- Used for database tuning
Paessler SQL monitoring software PRTG is one of the best SQL monitors for Windows devices. There is a freeware version of PRTG Network Monitor that lets you monitor up to 100 sensors without cost. From then on the prices range from $2,850-$14,500 (£2,185-£11,117) depending on the number of sensors you want. The cheapest paid version is PRTG 1000 which offers 1000 sensors for $2,850 (£2,185). The largest version is PRTG XL1 which offers unlimited sensors for $14,500 (£11,117). There is also a 30-day free trial of Paessler SQL monitoring software PRTG for evaluation.
SentryOne SQL Sentry is a tool that takes a more classic approach towards SQL monitoring. You can use this tool to view performance metrics of servers connected to your network and to look closer at poorly-performing SQL queries. You can also discover storage and resource bottlenecks. With SentryOne block analysis you can view all blocking processes from a hierarchical perspective so you can find the root cause faster.
SentryOne SQL Sentry helps you to stay ahead of the curve with over 100 alerting conditions. You can customize alert messages to display the exact information you want. This is a simple process as well because all you need to do is go to the Condition pane and select the condition you want to customize, then click Message tab > Edit. All messages are XML-based.
- Monitors database performance
- Examines bottlenecks in underlying services
You can purchase SentryOne SQL Sentry as a License and a Subscription. The License can be purchased for a price of $2,495 (£1,912) and the subscription can be purchased for a price of $125 (£95.80) per month. There is also a 30-day free trial.
The dbWatch Database Control package isn’t part of a wider general server or application monitor. It is a specialized SQL server database monitoring system.
This tool is capable of monitoring several databases at once and it isn’t restricted to working with just one database brand. The tool is able to monitor SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, MariaDB, MySQL, and Postgres databases. It also doesn’t have a problem with watching over the coordination of clusters created with Oracle and SQL Server. This is a universal solution that can monitor cloud-based databases managed by Azure SQL as well as on-site implementations, It can even handle hybrid environments.
The environment allows you to view live data on database events and these views can be accessed on a per-database basis or as aggregated data across a selection of databases or all databases. The pre-written reports that come with the system are also available to log both an individual database or across all of your instances.
It doesn’t matter where your databases are located because dbWatch centralizes access to them whether they are onsite, in the Cloud or on a remote site. The tool is available for all sizes of enterprises, thanks to a scalable pricing structure. However, the minimum license size covers ten databases, so it probably wouldn’t be suitable for very small enterprises.
The software for dbWatch is available for download and installs on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux servers. The package is available in three plan levels.
- Monitors SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, MariaDB, MySQL, and Postgres databases
- Live database statuses
The lowest of these, dbWatch Essentials, will give you SQL Server monitoring and will also cover any other DBMS implementations. The next plan up, dbWatch Professional, includes maintenance automation and SQL Server and Oracle license management functions. The top package, dbWatch Enterprise, has all of the facilities of the lower two packages plus cluster support, security monitoring via Active Directory, database autodiscovery, and the ability to extract data out in CSV format for import into Excel. You can try out dbWatch Essentials risk-free on a 30-day free trial.
If you’re looking for more of a specialist SQL monitoring software product then Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager is the product for you. With Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager you can monitor SQL server databases in physical and virtual environments. You can view performance data on server CPU, memory, hard disk, and network usage. With this information, you can see if a server is experiencing difficulties.
To get the most out of this program, you’re likely to need the SQL Query Tuner add-on. This add-on helps you to discover and diagnose SQL queries that are performing poorly. It does this by creating a graphical representation of the data so that you can see what is going on more clearly.
Predictive alerts is one of the most useful features offered by Idera SQL Diagnostic Monitor. You can configure custom thresholds for an SQL server activity alert so that you receive a notification once this trigger condition happens. This product also provides you with expert recommendations so that once an issue occurs you can run an automatic script to solve the problem. There is also specific guidance and online content to help you to fix performance issues as they occur.
Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager is available for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 SP2, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Server 2012 R2, Windows 10, and Windows Server 2016. You can purchase a single license of Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager for $1,996 (£1,530). There is also a 14-day free trial.
Lepide SQL Server Auditing provides a solid server auditing experience for monitoring SQL instances. With Lepide SQL Server Auditing all changes made to the configuration of SQL users, permissions, triggers, SQL server databases, and logins are saved as audit data. This is great for tracking how SQL configurations change over time and keeping on top of what is going on.
The Lepide SQL Server Auditing platform also allows you to monitor the health of connected SQL Servers. Lepide SQL Server Auditing monitors servers and provides you with data on usage, CPU usage, connections, and error rates. If a server goes down then you will be notified by an alert. Alerts are sent as console updates, emails, and push notifications from the LepideAuditor App.
You can download Lepide SQL Server Auditing on Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows Server 2016. If you want to know the price of Lepide SQL Server Monitoring then you’ll need to contact the sales team directly. Lepide also offers a free trial of this software.
SQL Power Tools is an agentless SQL monitoring solution that is dedicated to being as lightweight as possible. With SQL Power Tools you can monitor Oracle SQL Server, Informix, and Sybase database servers with minimal impact on your server resources. Impact is kept to a minimum because the software uses packet sniffing to analyze the performance of the server.
The data utilized by SQL Power Tools includes response time, destination IP, source IP application, start time, end time, database, rows returned, bytes sent, and packets sent. This is a sizeable body of data that gives you everything you need to scrutinize a database’s performance.
One of the key areas that SQL Power Tools focuses on is cybersecurity. This tool has been designed to prevent cyber attacks with Advanced SQL Behavioral Analysis and User Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA). When an attacker tries to breach your network these two will recognize the threat and stop it immediately. This makes SQL Power Tools a good solution for securing your servers as much as monitoring them.
Overall SQL Power Tools is a product that should be considered by any organization that wants to combine a performance monitoring solution with additional cybersecurity capabilities on Windows. In order to view the price of SQL Power Tools you’ll need to contact the sales team directly. You can request a free trial.
Red-Gate SQL Monitor is an SQL monitoring solution that offers one of the most modern monitoring experiences on this list. Red-Gate SQL Monitor gives you a Global Overview that allows you to view the health of connected servers from one window. This view shows a color-coded display of server health throughout your network. In the event that a server is down, it will turn red with a fault message. Fault messages include a notification like “Long-running query. sharepoint since 4:22”.
Red-Gate recognizes that even with this Global view it is difficult to keep track of a live network which is why they have their own alerts system. The alerts system comes with 40 preconfigured alerts and can also be customized to send you alerts once a certain threshold has been exceeded. You can set thresholds for memory resource usage, high CPU, disk space, SQL errors, and query performance issues.
One of the most noticeable things about this product is how clear and pristine the graphs and visual displays are. They make it easy to monitor your server health promptly. There is also a reporting module that you can use to further breakdown your data for future analysis. You can export reports to PDF and schedule them to be emailed to you in the future.
In organizations where top-down visibility over lots of different servers is vital, Red-Gate SQL Monitor is an excellent choice. The Global view will provide you with that core dashboard monitoring experience that keeps you on top of everything going on. You need to request a quote from the company website to view the price. You can evaluate their software on a 14-day free trial.
dbForge Monitor is an SQL monitoring tool for Windows that delivers a simple and contemporary SQL monitoring experience. dbForge Monitor absolutely nails the top-down perspective required by a larger network with a dedicated Overview tab. In the Overview tab, you can view key metrics like CPU utilization, memory utilization, disc activity, and IO latency.
If you would like to delve deeper into the read and writes for individual database files then you can use the IO Data tab. Through the IO Data tab, you can view total data reads and writes, latency, and input/output operation count. Similarly, the Wait Stats tab is designed specifically to tell you the wait time and waiting tasks to help you pinpoint resources that are adversely affecting server performance.
With regards to queries, dbForge Monitor has its own SQL query performance analyzer to keep tabs on resource optimization. The SQL query performance analyzer looks out for resource-intensive queries that overwhelm the system so that it can’t cope with its entire workload. You can view the query text and query profiling data so that you can rewrite it to support your server better.
All-in-all, dbForge Monitor is the ideal tool for users who want to view in-depth metrics without relying on too many complex displays. In order to run dbForge Monitor you need Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 2012, 2014, 2016, or 2017. You also need to have .NET Framework 4.5.2 installed. You can download dbForge Monitor for free.
Apex SQL Monitor is SQL Server monitoring software that allows you to identify and troubleshoot for poor performance. You can monitor metrics such as longest running transactions, buffer cache hit ratio, available memory, processor utilization, page life expectancy, database size, and log growth. This information is shown in small graphs. These can be a little more difficult to use than graphs by other software but they are still passable.
Query monitoring is something for which Apex SQL Monitor offers complete support. For instance, you can capture query wait times for individual and blocking queries. You can also view historical query performance to look for areas where performance is particularly poor.
The most interesting aspect of Apex SQL Monitor is the ability to create custom metrics. You can create and measure your own custom metrics according to the needs of your monitoring SQL server environment. To do this you need to enter the name of your custom metric, a short description, and category, unit, followed by your query text.
Apex SQL Monitor operates on a per-instance pricing model. For one instance the price is $499 (£382) but if you purchase two to four then this drops to $399 (£305). Purchasing for five to nine instances becomes $349 (£267) per instance and $299 (£229) when you purchase for 10-19 instances. You can also purchase for 20+ instances but you’ll need to contact the sales team directly. There is also a free trial available for download.
Spiceworks SQL Server Monitoring is a free server monitoring tool that is popular among smaller enterprises. WIth Spiceworks SQL Server Monitoring you can track metrics like SQL Server size, connection, and speed. If you’re looking to monitor the health of connected servers then you need to look no further than this platform. The dashboard is completely customizable and you can create widgets to monitor the exact infrastructure you want.
Once data has been pulled from a server it can then be viewed in customizable charts and graphs. This is particularly useful for seeing how the performance of a server has changed over time. Monitoring servers over a longer time period allows you to see the signs of performance degradation earlier.
Organizations looking for a lightweight but well-designed SQL Server monitoring experience would be hard-pressed to go wrong with Spiceworks SQL Server Monitoring. You can download Spiceworks SQL Server Monitoring software for free.
That concludes our look at the best SQL monitoring tools for 2020. Of all the tools mentioned on this list we recommend SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer for SQL Server, Datadog SQL Monitoring and SentryOne SQL Sentry. Each of these tools offers a server health monitoring experience that can function well within any size environment. The autodiscovery feature of the former makes this a particularly simple process.
No matter what your preferences are, we recommend that you try out a number of free trials before you make a purchase. If you’re working within a small network then it is ideal to try out a tool like Paessler SQL monitoring software PRTG on account of its freeware version. The most important thing is to find a product that you’re comfortable monitoring with before you make a purchase. At the end of the day, your comfort with the program will determine how effective it will be when you use it on a daily basis.
SQL Server Monitoring FAQ
☑What is the first step in reviewing your system in SQL?
Before approaching the task of reviewing your system in SQL, ensure that you have an effective monitoring tool. Reviewing the system by manually issuing a series of SQL queries is time-consuming, prone to error, and could slow down or block a system if it is already close to its operating limits. A performance monitor can give you advanced warning of potential problems before they become critical so you know that any actions you take in the database aren’t likely to make a bad situation worse.
📋What are the performance counters in SQL Server?
The term “performance counters” means the metrics or system indicators that you need to watch in order to prevent the database and its supporting services from getting overloaded. The most important of these are:
- % Processor Time
- Processor Que Length
- Processors Blocked
- SQL Compilations/Sec (or Re-compilations/Sec
- Total Server Memory
- Bytes Total/sec
- Average Disk Queue Length
- Buffer Cache Hit Ratio
- Cache Hit Ratio
💻How do you check a SQL Server instance is running or not?
The steps to check on whether an SQL Server instance is running are:
- Open Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio
- Scroll through the Object Manager to find the folder the represents the instance that you want to check on.
- Right-click on the mouse to get the context menu.
- Look through the options. If Start is grayed out, the instance is currently running.