September 2009 - Posts

This is common reaction I observe by many students who have attended my course. And as many of the students are looking after third party applications, the data is typically stored within the default MDF files and no thought is given to the fact that within SQL Server, you can also create secondary data files, known as NDF files

I can sometimes forget when running User groups or writing a blog that there are still many people out there embarking on a new and exciting career surrounding Microsoft SQL Server.  Understanding .MDF and NDF files is an important part of creating a SQL Server database

The MDF file is a primary data file that automatically created when you create a new database in SQL server. There is only one and it is mandatory and by default will contain the system metadata specific to the database. Left with this default setup, any user defined tables will be stored in the same MDF file which can cause contention as SQL Server will read from the same MDF file for both the system metadata and the user data.

My mentor also said, get some NDF files created when creating a new database. These are secondary data files and you are not limited to creating just one. This way you can map your user defined tables on an NDF file and keep the system metadata on the primary MDF file. This can spread the load and improve performance, especially if the MDF file or NDF file are located on separate physical disks on separate controllers.

How you place data into the separate files is controlled by tables and filegroups, and I will save that for another blog.

 For more information regarding MDF files and NDF files, the following Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Courses can help

Microsoft E-Learning Course 6369

Microsoft Course 6231

If you need any more information about these course or other SQL Server courses, please feel free to ping me



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Tonight’s Manchester SQL Server User Group had the pleasure of Iain Kick, who is SQL Server systems consultant for Quest Software and Chris Burns, who is a SQL Server Consultant at Data Technology Consultants Ltd.  Both provided excellent presentations.

Chris did a fantastic presentation on the “SQL Consultants Challenge” that had me in stitches in parts as he gave examples of the typical dilemmas a consultant will face.

Iain’s session on “End-to-End SQL Server Performance Troubleshooting”, may have had you thinking that it would be an hour promoting the software that Quest Software has to offer. This was not the case. Iain’s session spent the majority of the time focusing on the tools, native to SQL Server that can be used for performance tuning and finishing off by providing an overview of Quest Software Performance Analysis and how it can make it easier to perform performance tuning operations on your SQL Server.

Overall, an insightful perspective from a two highly regarded SQL Server specialist.

Many of you will be attending SQLBits this November. Many of the sponsors will perform a lunchtime lecture surrounding many areas of SQL Server, of which Iain has done in the past. Event sponsors play a very important role in supporting events such as SQLBits and some of the SQL Server User group events

Based on the presentation I have seen, I would recommend attending one of the lunchtime sessions at SQLBits. I have no doubt you will pick up golden nuggets of information that will help you in your work.



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Just thought I would let you know that tonight I have updated information on the website I have that will provide information on learning and certification options that are available from Microsoft Learning.


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Last week has seen the acquisition of Remarc by QA. With the many presentations that Remarc employees have attended, many are excited at the opportunities that they have with the UK’s leading provider of learning services. The atmosphere within the company is one of excitement as we find our place within this new and vibrant organisation. At the end of the week there was one burning question.

“How did Derren Brown predict the lottery results correctly on Wednesday night?”

All the conspiracy theories where abound in the staff room, and as I sat down and watched Mr Brown explain the processes that he had used to derive the magic 6 numbers, it dawned on me that his methodology could almost manifest itself as a process that could be used in a technology growing in popularity known as data mining.

Now, in this blog, I am not going to give you the next winning lottery numbers. But watching the process that Derren Brown explains in his programme would be seen in the data mining world as a data mining algorithm. Some would quite rightly argue a complex one, as he is dealing with the psyche of the human mind within his methodology.

For those of you that don’t know data mining. In the context of Microsoft , Data mining is a component of Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services that provide the ability to analyse the data within a relational or multi-dimensional data source by using data mining algorithms. The common misconception is that it is just used to make predictions based on the historical data that is stored within your business; the objective of Derren Brown’s exercise in predicting the lottery numbers.

However, data mining is much more than that. Allowing you to group data together and find associations and patterns within the data that may not be so evident, so that you can extrapolate meaning from them so informed business decisions can be made.

 Microsoft makes the process of using data mining straight forward using existing tools such as Business Intelligence Development Studio. However; it is going mainstream, and the release of the Microsoft Excel Data Mining add in will now allow business users to make use of this fascinating technology.

Now if only someone could develop a new algorithm called the BrownDM algorithm.......


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This week saw the acquisition of the Remarc Group by QA, the UK’s leading provider of learning services.  Remarc has been an important partner that has provided venues for the SQL Server user groups in Manchester and Leeds. It is a pleasure to announce that QA are very happy to continue providing these venues. Chris Testa-O’Neill, who is the Manchester SQL Server User Group organiser, has said:

“Firstly, I would like to thank the support that The Remarc Group has provided over the last year in providing facilities for the Manchester and Leeds SQL Server User Group. Their help has made organising the User Group events easier.

As an employee of QA, there are exciting times ahead. The range of learning resources that are available in the SQL Server arena go far beyond the standard courses that are available with any other learning provider. I am very excited by the opportunities that are available to provide a more diverse range of courses in SQL Server technologies.

I am also thankful that QA has agreed to continue providing the Leeds and Manchester venues for the SQL Server User Groups. The enthusiasm for these events was fantastic and the great news is that there will be no change for the User Group members. Events will run at the same locations in the both Leeds and Manchester “

To view the SQL Server courses available from QA, visit


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