Getting Started with Administering and Managing Microsoft SQL Server with PowerShell

I've used PowerShell to administer and manage Microsoft SQL Server for quite some time although I haven't blogged much about it. I thought I would take the time to write a series of blog articles about using PowerShell to administer and manage Microsoft SQL Server to help others who are just getting started and to clear up some common misconceptions.

Just to give you a little background information about myself, I've worked (professionally) in a data-center environment administering and managing every version of SQL Server since 6.5 and I hold certifications on each version beginning with 6.5 through 2008 to include MCDBA on SQL Server 2000, and MCITP on SQL Server 2005 and 2008.

The focus in this blog article series will be more on PowerShell than SQL Server so if you don't know anything about SQL Server, my recommendation is to learn more about the underlying technology (SQL Server) before attempting to learn how to administer and manage it with PowerShell.

The test environment for this scenario is a workstation named PC01 running a 64 bit version of Windows 8.1 (PowerShell version 4.0) with SQL Server 2014 Management Studio installed. I have two SQL Servers both running Windows Server 2012 R2 with the core installation (no GUI). The server named SQL01 has SQL Server 2014 installed. The other server is named SQL02 and has SQL Server 2008 R2 installed. Both have a default instance and at least one additional named instance of SQL Server installed.

I'll first start out by determining what PowerShell modules were added to PC01 when SQL Server Management Studio was installed on it. The SQL PowerShell Modules (or snap-ins depending on what version of SQL you're using) are actually installed as part of the SQL Client Connectivity SDK which was also installed (by default) when SQL Server Management Studio was installed on PC01.

1Get-Module -Name *SQL*


Now to see what commands (cmdlets, functions, etc) exist in those modules:

1Get-Command -Module (Get-Module -Name *SQL*) | Sort-Object -Property ModuleName, Name


The PowerShell modules for SQL Server 2014 contain a total of 57 SQL related commands:

1(Get-Command -Module (Get-Module -Name *SQL*)).count


If you happen to be using the PowerShell modules from SQL Server 2012, you'll only have a total of 41 commands:


And if you happen to be using a version of SQL Server prior to 2012 that has PowerShell support, the PowerShell commands will be part of a Snap-in instead of a module. This example is from SQL Server 2008 R2 and you'll have very few commands to work with:


Note: You can use the SQL Server 2012 or 2014 SQLPS module on your management workstation to access down level servers such as SQL Server 2008 R2. I haven't tested this on any servers at a lower level than that so your mileage may vary.

I've noticed some sort of weird auto-loading issue with the SQLPS module and my recommendation is to manually import the module before attempting to use any of the cmdlets in it and not to rely on the module auto-loading functionality which was first introduced in PowerShell version 3. I also had a chance to ask Ed Wilson, The Scripting Guy about this yesterday during his presentation for the PowerShell Virtual Chapter of SQL PASS and he made the same recommendation.

Explicitly import the SQLPS module:

1Import-Module -Name SQLPS


Notice a warning was returned in the previous example when the SQLPS module was imported. This is because there are a couple of cmdlets in that module that don't use approved verbs. Approved verbs is a subject for another blog article, but you can use the DisableNameChecking switch parameter to prevent the warning from being displayed:

1Import-Module -Name SQLPS -DisableNameChecking


Note: The script execution policy on your management workstation (PC01 in this scenario) must be set to RemoteSigned (or lower) in order for the SQLPS module to load. Take a look at the about_Execution_Policies help topic in PowerShell before making this change.

One thing I did notice is the SQLPS module appears to be a 32 bit module. I haven't experienced any issues using it with a 64 bit version of PowerShell, but I'm curious if that may explain the intermittent issues with module auto-loading that I've experienced.

1Get-ChildItem -Path ($env:PSModulePath -split ';') -Filter *sql*


One of the ways that I've used PowerShell to administer and manage SQL Server is by simply using some of my existing T-SQL (Transact-SQL) with the Invoke-Sqlcmd cmdlet:

1Invoke-Sqlcmd -ServerInstance sql01 -Database master Query 'select name, database_id, recovery_model_desc from sys.databases'


An even better example of using the Invoke-Sqlcmd cmdlet can be found in a previous blog article of mine where I queried the AdventureWorks database for information to create 290 Active Directory user accounts which took a total of 23 seconds to complete.

Importing the SQLPS module also added a SQLSERVER PSDrive that can be used to administer and manage SQL Server as if it were a file system:



Now to return some useful information about the user databases on SQL01:

1Get-ChildItem -Path SQLSERVER:\SQL\SQL01\Default\DATABASES\ |
2Select-Object -Property Name, Size, SpaceAvailable, DataSpaceUsage, IndexSpaceUsage |
3Format-Table -AutoSize


Then there are SQL Server Management Objects (SMO). One of the nice things about the SQLPS module in SQL Server 2012 and 2014 is there's no longer a need to manually reference the SQL Server assembly's to use SMO because they're automatically loaded when the SQLPS module is imported as you can see in the following example:

1[System.AppDomain]::CurrentDomain.GetAssemblies() | Where-Object FullName -like '*sqlserver*'


That means once the SQLPS module is imported, you can work with SMO without having to use the Add-Type cmdlet or [Reflection.Assembly]::LoadWithPartialName() that most other blogs reference (although if you want to make your scripts backwards compatible, you'll still need to do it that way).

1$SQL = New-Object Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.Server -ArgumentList 'SQL01'
2$SQL.Databases | Select-Object -Property Parent, Name, RecoveryModel


If you wanted to query the information for a named instance in the previous example, the value for ArgumentList would have been ServerName\InstanceName.