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Article ID: 231619 - Last Review: September 21, 2012 - Revision: 15.0

This article was previously published under Q231619

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Summary

For Microsoft SQL Server 2005, SQLIOSim was shipped as a separate download package. Starting with SQL Server 2008, SQLIOSim is included with the SQL Server product installation. When you install SQL Server, you find the SQLIOSim tool in the BINN folder of your SQL Server installation. Customers can use these updated versions of the tool to simulate the IO activity on the disk subsystem.

The SQLIOSim utility replaces the SQLIOStress utility. The SQLIOStress utility was formerly known as the SQL70IOStress utility. 

This article also contains download information for the SQLIOSim utility.

INTRODUCTION

This article describes the SQLIOSim tool. You can use this tool to perform reliability and integrity tests on disk subsystems. These tests simulate read, write, checkpoint, backup, sort, and read-ahead activities for Microsoft SQL Server. However, if you have to perform benchmark tests and to determine I/O capacity of the storage system, you should use the SQLIO (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?familyid=9a8b005b-84e4-4f24-8d65-cb53442d9e19&displaylang=en)  tool.

More information

Overview

The SQLIOSim utility has been upgraded from the SQLIOStress utility. The SQLIOSim utility more accurately simulates the I/O patterns of Microsoft SQL Server 2005, of SQL Server 2000, and of SQL Server 7.0. The I/O patterns of these versions of SQL Server resemble one another. The SQLIOStress utility has been used to test SQL Server 2005 I/O requirements for many years.

For more information about SQL Server I/O patterns, see Chapter 2 of Microsoft SQL Server I/O Basics, by Bob Dorr, Microsoft SQL Server Escalation. To obtain this document, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc917726.aspx (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc917726.aspx)
The SQLIOSim utility is offered for Itanium-based, x86-based, and x64-based systems. Use the following links to download the appropriate package for your system.

SQLIOSim utility, x86-based version

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Download
Download the SQLIOSimX86.exe package now. (http://download.microsoft.com/download/3/8/0/3804cb1c-a911-4d12-8525-e5780197e0b5/SQLIOSimX86.exe)

SQLIOSim utility, x64-based version

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Download
Download the SqliosimX64.exe package now. (http://download.microsoft.com/download/6/5/2/65286f65-bff2-42b8-b0c9-87f117855069/sqliosimX64.exe)

SQLIOSim utility, Itanium-based version

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Download
Download the SQLIOSimIA64.exe package now. (http://download.microsoft.com/download/2/c/f/2cf8fb0a-a943-456b-9cf5-68ce426180a1/SQLIOSimIA64.exe)
Release Date: 19-Oct-2006

For more information about how to download Microsoft support files, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
119591  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/119591/ ) How to obtain Microsoft support files from online services
Microsoft scanned this file for viruses. Microsoft used the most current virus-detection software that was available on the date that the file was posted. The file is stored on security-enhanced servers that help prevent any unauthorized changes to the file.

Note To help maintain appropriate data integrity and security, we recommend that you perform stress tests of your I/O subsystem before you deploy SQL Server on new hardware. The SQLIOSim utility simulates the read patterns, the write patterns, and the problem identification techniques of SQL Server. To perform these tasks, the SQLIOSim utility simulates the user activity and the system activity of a SQL Server system. The SQLIOSim utility performs this simulation independent of the SQL Server engine.

The SQLIOSim utility does not guarantee or warrant data security or integrity. The utility was designed to provide baseline testing of a system environment. The SQLIOSim utility may expose potential data integrity issues.

For more information about logging and data storage, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
230785  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/230785/ ) SQL Server 7.0, SQL Server 2000, and SQL Server 2005 logging and data storage algorithms extend data reliability
The download package contains two executable files, SQLIOSim.com and SQLIOSim.exe. Both executable files provide identical simulation capabilities. SQLIOSim.com is a command-line tool that you can configure to run without user interaction. To do this, you can use command-line parameters, a configuration file, or a combination of both of these methods. SQLIOSim.exe is a graphical application that accepts no command-line parameters. However, SQLIOSim.exe does load default configuration data from configuration files.

SQLIOSim.com command-line parameters

SQLIOSim.com accepts a limited number of command-line parameters to control basic behavior. The configuration file for the SQLIOSim utility provides advanced behavior control. When command-line parameters and configuration file options overlap, the command-line parameters take precedence.
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ParameterComment
-cfg fileOverride the Sqliosim.cfg.ini default configuration file. The SQLIOSim utility returns an error if the utility cannot find the file.
-save fileSave the resulting configuration in the configuration file. You can use this option to create the initial configuration file.
-log fileSpecify the error log file name and the error log file path. The default file name is Sqliosim.log.xml.
-dir dirSet the location to create the data (.mdf) file and the log (.ldf) file. You can run this command multiple times. In most cases, this location is a drive root or a volume mount point. This location can be a long path or a UNC path.
-d secondsSet the duration of the main run. This value excludes the preparation phase and the verification phase.
-size MBSet the initial size of the data file in megabytes (MB). The file can grow up to two times the initial size. The size of the log file is calculated as half the size of the data file. However, the log file cannot be larger than 50 MB.

SQLIOSim configuration file

You do not have to use a configuration file. If you do not use a configuration file, all parameters take default values except the data file location and the log file location. You must use one of the following methods to specify the data file location and the log file location:
  • Use the command-line parameters in the SQLIOSim.com file.
  • Use the Files and Configuration dialog box after you run the SQLIOSim.exe file.
  • Use the Filex section of the configuration file.
Notes
  • If the name of the parameter indicates that the parameter is a ratio or a percentage, the value of the parameter is expressed as the percentage or the ratio, divided by 0.01. For example, the value of the CacheHitRatio parameter is 10 percent. This value is expressed as 1000 because 10, divided by 0.01, equals 1000. The maximum value of a percentage parameter is 10000.
  • If the parameter type is numeric, and you assign a non-numeric value to the parameter, the SQLIOSim utility sets the parameter to 0.
  • If the parameter type is Boolean, the valid values that you can assign to the parameter are true and false. Additionally, the values are case sensitive. The SQLIOSim utility ignores any invalid values.
  • If a pair of parameters indicates a minimum value and a maximum value, the minimum value must not be larger than the maximum value. For example, the value of the MinIOChainLength parameter must not be larger than the value of the MaxIOChainLength parameter.
  • If the parameter indicates a number of pages, the SQLIOSim utility checks the value that you assign to the parameter against the file that the SQLIOSim utility processes. The SQLIOSim utility performs this check to make sure that the number of pages does not exceed the file size.

CONFIG section

The SQLIOSim utility takes the values that you specify in the CONFIG section of the SQLIOSim configuration file to establish global testing behavior.
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ParameterDefault valueDescriptionComments
ErrorFilesqliosim.log.xmlName of the XML type log file
CPUCountNumber of CPUs on the computerNumber of logical CPUs to createThe maximum is 64 CPUs.
Affinity0Physical CPU affinity mask to apply for logical CPUsThe affinity mask should be within the active CPU mask. A value of 0 means that all available CPUs will be used.
MaxMemoryMBAvailable physical memory when the SQLIOSim utility startsSize of the buffer pool in MBThe value cannot exceed the total amount of physical memory on the computer.
StopOnErrortrueStops the simulation when the first error occurs
TestCycles1Number of full test cycles to performA value of 0 indicates an infinite number of test cycles.
TestCycleDuration300Duration of a test cycle in seconds, excluding the audit pass at the end of the cycle
CacheHitRatio1000Simulated cache hit ratio when the SQLIOSim utility reads from the disk
MaxOutstandingIO0Maximum number of outstanding I/O operations that are allowed process-wideThe value cannot exceed 140000. A value of 0 means that up to approximately 140,000 I/O operations are allowed. This is the limit of the utility.
TargetIODuration100Duration of I/O operations, in milliseconds, that are targeted by throttlingIf the average I/O duration exceeds the target I/O duration, the SQLIOSim utility throttles the number of outstanding I/O operations to decrease the load and to improve I/O completion time.
AllowIOBurststrueAllow for turning off throttling to post many I/O requestsI/O bursts are enabled during the initial update, initial checkpoint, and final checkpoint passes at the end of test cycles. The MaxOutstandingIO parameter is still honored. You can expect long I/O warnings.
NoBufferingtrueUse the FILE_FLAG_NO_BUFFERING optionSQL Server opens database files by using FILE_FLAG_NO_BUFFERING == true. Some utilities and services, such as Analysis Services, use FILE_FLAG_NO_BUFFERING == false. To fully test a server, execute one test for each setting. 
WriteThroughtrueUse the FILE_FLAG_WRITE_THROUGH optionSQL Server opens database files by using FILE_FLAG_WRITE_THROUGH == true. However, some utilities and services open the database files by using FILE_FLAG_WRITE_THROUGH == false. For example, SQL Server Analysis Services opens the database files by using FILE_FLAG_WRITE_THROUGH == false. To fully test a server, execute one test for each setting.
ScatterGathertrueUse ReadScatter/WriteGather APIsIf this parameter is set to true, the NoBuffering parameter is also set to true.

SQL Server uses scatter/gather I/Os for most I/O requests.
ForceReadAheadtruePerform a read-ahead operation even if the data is already readThe SQLIOSim utility issues the read command even if the data page is already in the buffer pool.

Microsoft SQL Server Support has successfully used the true setting to expose I/O problems.
DeleteFilesAtStartuptrueDelete files at startup if files existA file may contain multiple data streams. Only streams that are specified in the Filex FileName entry are truncated in the file. If the default stream is specified, all streams are deleted.
DeleteFilesAtShutdownfalseDelete files after the test is finishedA file may contain multiple data streams. Only data streams that you specify in the Filex FileName entry are truncated in the file. If the default data stream is specified, the SQLIOSim utility deletes all data streams.
StampFilesfalseExpand the file by stamping zerosThis process may take a long time if the file is very large. If you set this parameter to false, the SQLIOSim utility extends the file by setting a valid data marker.

SQL Server 2005 uses the instant file initialization feature for data files. If the data file is a log file, or if instant file initialization is not enabled, SQL Server performs zero stamping. Versions of SQL Server earlier than SQL Server 2000 always perform zero stamping.

You should switch the value of the StampFiles parameter during testing to make sure that both instant file initialization and zero stamping are operating correctly.

Filex section

The SQLIOSim utility is designed to allow for multiple file testing. The Filex section is represented as [File1], [File2] for each file in the test.
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ParameterDefault valueDescriptionComments
FileNameNo default valueFile name and pathThe FileName parameter can be a long path or a UNC path. It can also include a secondary stream name and type. For example, the FileName parameter may be set to file.mdf:stream2.

Note In SQL Server 2005, DBCC operations use streams. We recommend that you perform stream tests.
InitialSizeNo default valueInitial size in MBIf the existing file is larger than the value that is specified for the InitialSize parameter, the SQLIOSim utility does not shrink the existing file. If the existing file is smaller, the SQLIOSim utility expands the existing file.
MaxSizeNo default valueMaximum size in MBA file cannot grow larger than the value that you specify for the MaxSize parameter.
Increment0Size in MB of the increment by which the file grows or shrinks. For more information, see the "ShrinkUser section" part of this article. The SQLIOSim utility adjusts the Increment parameter at startup so that the following situation is established:
Increment * MaxExtents < MaxMemoryMB / NumberOfDataFiles
If the result is 0, the SQLIOSim utility sets the file as non-shrinkable.
ShrinkablefalseIndicates whether the file can be shrunk or expandedIf you set the Increment parameter to 0, you set the file to be non-shrinkable. In this case, you must set the Shrinkable parameter to false. If you set the Increment parameter to a value other than 0, you set the file to be shrinkable. In this case, you must set the Shrinkable parameter to true.
SparsefalseIndicates whether the Sparse attribute should be set on the filesFor existing files, the SQLIOSim utility does not clear the Sparse attribute when you set the Sparse parameter to false.

SQL Server 2005 uses sparse files to support snapshot databases and the secondary DBCC streams.

We recommend that you enable both the sparse file and the streams, and then perform a test pass.

Note If you set Sparse = true for the file settings, do not specify NoBuffering = false in the config section. If you use these two conflicting combinations, you may receive an error that resembles the following from the tool:

Error:-=====Error: 0x80070467
Error Text: While accessing the hard disk, a disk operation failed even after retries.
Description: Buffer validation failed on C:\SQLIOSim.mdx Page: 28097
LogFilefalseIndicates whether a file contains user or transaction log dataYou should define at least one log file.

RandomUser section

The SQLIOSim utility takes the values that you specify in the RandomUser section to simulate a SQL Server worker that is performing random query operations, such as Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) I/O patterns.
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ParameterDefault valueDescriptionComments
UserCount-1Number of random access threads that are executing at the same timeThe value cannot exceed the following value:
CPUCount*1023-100
The total number of all users also cannot exceed this value. A value of 0 means that you cannot create random access users. A value of -1 means that you must use the automatic configuration of the following value:
min(CPUCount*2, 8)
NoteA SQL Server system may have thousands of sessions. Most of the sessions do not have active requests. Use the count(*) function in queries against the sys.dm_exec_requests dynamic management view (DMV) as a baseline for establishing this test parameter value.

CPUCount here refers to the value of the CPUCount parameter in the CONFIG section.

The min(CPUCount*2, 8) value results in the smaller of the values between CPUCount*2 and 8.
JumpToNewRegionPercentage500The chance of a jump to a new region of the fileThe start of the region is randomly selected. The size of the region is a random value between the value of the MinIOChainLength parameter and the value of the MaxIOChainLength parameter.
MinIOChainLength1Minimum region size in pages
MaxIOChainLength100Maximum region size in pagesSQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition can read ahead up to 1,024 pages.

The minimum value is 0. The maximum value is limited by system memory.

Typically, random user activity causes small scanning operations to occur. Use the values that are specified in the ReadAheadUser section to simulate larger scanning operations.
RandomUserReadWriteRatio9000Percentage of pages to be updatedA random-length chain is selected in the region and may be read. This parameter defines the percentage of the pages to be updated and written to disk.
MinLogPerBuffer64Minimum log record size in bytesThe value must be either a multiple of the on-disk sector size or a size that fits evenly into the on-disk sector size.
MaxLogPerBuffer8192Maximum log record size in bytesThis value cannot exceed 64000. The value must be a multiple of the on-disk sector size.
RollbackChance100The chance that an in-memory operation will occur that causes a rollback operation to occur. When this rollback operation occurs, SQL Server does not write to the log file.
SleepAfter5Sleep time after each cycle, in milliseconds

AuditUser section

The SQLIOSim utility takes the values that you specify in the AuditUser section to simulate DBCC activity to read and to audit the information about the page. Validation occurs even if the value of the UserCount parameter is set to 0.
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ParameterDefault valueDescriptionComments
UserCount2Number of Audit threadsThe value cannot exceed the following value:
CPUCount*1023-100
The total number of all users also cannot exceed this value. A value of 0 means that you cannot create random access users. A value of -1 means that you must use the automatic configuration of the following value:
min(CPUCount*2, 8)
NoteA SQL Server system may have thousands of sessions. Most of the sessions do not have active requests. Use the count(*) function in queries against the sys.dm_exec_requests DMV as a baseline for establishing this test parameter value.

CPUCount here refers to the value of the CPUCount parameter in the CONFIG section.

The min(CPUCount*2, 8) value results in the smaller of the values between CPUCount*2 and 8.
BuffersValidated64
DelayAfterCycles2Apply the AuditDelay parameter after the number of BuffersValidated cycles is completed
AuditDelay200Number of milliseconds to wait after each DelayAfterCycles operation

ReadAheadUser section

The SQLIOSim utility takes the values that are specified in the ReadAheadUser section to simulate SQL Server read-ahead activity. SQL Server takes advantage of read-ahead activity to maximize asynchronous I/O capabilities and to limit query delays.
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ParameterDefault valueDescriptionComments
UserCount2Number of read-ahead threadsThe value cannot exceed the following value:
CPUCount*1023-100
The total number of all users also cannot exceed this value. A value of 0 means that you cannot create random access users. A value of -1 means that you must use the automatic configuration of the following value:
min(CPUCount*2, 8)
NoteA SQL Server system may have thousands of sessions. Most of the sessions do not have active requests. Use the count(*) function in queries against the sys.dm_exec_requests DMV as a baseline for establishing this test parameter value.

CPUCount here refers to the value of the CPUCount parameter in the CONFIG section.

The min(CPUCount*2, 8) value results in the smaller of the values between CPUCount*2 and 8.
BuffersRAMin32Minimum number of pages to read per cycleThe minimum value is 0. The maximum value is limited by system memory.
BuffersRAMax64Maximum number of pages to read per cycleSQL Server Enterprise editions can read up to 1,024 pages in a single request. If you install SQL Server on a computer that has lots of CPU, memory, and disk resources, we recommend that you increase the file size and the read-ahead size.
DelayAfterCycles2Apply the RADelay parameter after the specified number of cycles is completed
RADelay200Number of milliseconds to wait after each DelayAfterCycles operation

BulkUpdateUser section

The SQLIOSim utility takes the values that you specify in the BulkUpdateUser section to simulate bulk operations, such as SELECT...INTO operations and BULK INSERT operations.
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ParameterDefault valueDescriptionComments
UserCount-1Number of BULK UPDATE threadsThe value cannot exceed the following value:
CPUCount*1023-100
A value of -1 means that you must use the automatic configuration of the following value:
min(CPUCount*2, 8)
NoteA SQL Server system may have thousands of sessions. Most of the sessions do not have active requests. Use the count(*) function in queries against the sys.dm_exec_requests DMV as a baseline for establishing this test parameter value.

CPUCount here refers to the value of the CPUCount parameter in the CONFIG section.

The min(CPUCount*2, 8) value results in the smaller of the values between CPUCount*2 and 8.
BuffersBUMin64Minimum number of pages to update per cycle
BuffersBUMax128Maximum number of pages to update per cycleThe minimum value is 0. The maximum value is limited by system memory.
DelayAfterCycles2Apply the BUDelay parameter after the specified number of cycles is completed
BUDelay10Number of milliseconds to wait after each DelayAfterCycles operation

ShrinkUser section

The SQLIOSim utility takes the values that you specify in the ShrinkUser section to simulate DBCC shrink operations. The SQLIOSim utility can also use the ShrinkUser section to make the file grow.
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ParameterDefault valueDescription
MinShrinkInterval120Minimum interval between shrink operations, in seconds
MaxShrinkInterval600Maximum interval between shrink operations, in seconds
MinExtends1Minimum number of increments by which the SQLIOSim utility will grow or shrink the file
MaxExtends20Maximum number of increments by which the SQLIOSim utility will grow or shrink the file

Configuration .ini file comments

The semicolon character (;) at the start of a line in the configuration .ini file causes the line to be treated as a single comment.

File creation

The SQLIOSim utility creates separate data files and log files to simulate the I/O patterns that SQL Server generates in its data file and in its log file. The SQLIOSim utility does not use the SQL Server engine to perform stress activity. Therefore, you can use the SQLIOSim utility to test a computer before you install SQL Server.

When you run the SQLIOSim utility, make sure that you specify the same file location that you use for your SQL Server database files. When you do this, the utility simulates the same I/O path as your SQL Server database.

You can enable the compress attribute or the encrypt attribute for the existing test files. You can also enable these attributes for the existing directory where the test files will be created. The corresponding options to enable these attributes are located in the Properties dialog box for a file or for a directory.

By default, the SQLIOSim utility creates test files that have the .mdx and .ldx file name extensions. Therefore, these files will not overwrite existing data and log files.

Warning Do not specify the actual SQL Server database files for testing. The SQLIOSim utility will overwrite the data with random test patterns, and your actual SQL Server data will be lost.

SQLIOSim error log and handling

The SQLIOSim utility creates the error log file in one of the following locations:
  • The location that you specify in the –log startup parameter
  • The location that you specify in the ErrorFile= line in the Sqliosim.cfg.ini file
The SQLIOSim.log.xml error log contains details about the execution. These details include error information. Review the log carefully for error information and for warning information.

Note If you experience an error in the SQLIOSim utility, we recommend that you ask your hardware manufacturer to help determine the root cause of the issue.

Multiple copies

The SQLIOSim utility accommodates multiple-file-level testing and multiple-user-level testing. The SQLIOSim utility does not require multiple invocations. However, the SQLIOStress utility requires multiple invocations. You can run multiple copies of the SQLIOSim utility if the following conditions are true:
  • All copies reference unique testing files per instance of the utility.
  • The MaxMemoryMB parameter of each instance provides for a non-overlapping memory region that is sufficient for each instance.
The sum of the MaxMemoryMB parameter for each instance must be less than or equal to the total physical memory. Some testing phases, such as checkpoint simulation, can be very memory-intensive and may create out-of-memory conditions when you run multiple copies. If you experience out-of-memory errors, you can reduce the number of utility copies that are running.

Sample configuration files

In addition to the default Sqliosim.cfg.ini file, the package provides the following sample files.
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Sample fileDescriptionParameters that differ from the default configuration file
Sqliosim.hwcache.cfg.iniMinimize reads

Files are made small to keep them fully in memory

No sequential reads
For the AuditUser section and for the ReadAheadUser section:

CacheHitRatio=10000
UserCount=0
Sqliosim.nothrottle.cfg.iniRemove I/O throttling

Minimize the time to wait to increase I/O volume
TargetIODuration=1000000
AuditDelay=10
RADelay=10
Sqliosim.seqwrites.cfg.iniMinimize reads

Files are made small to keep them fully in memory

Files are made non-shrinkable

No sequential reads

No random access

Bulk update in big chunks without delays
Shrinkable=FALSE

For the AuditUser section, for the ReadAheadUser section, and for the RandomUser section:

CacheHitRatio=10000
ForceReadAhead=FALSE
BuffersBUMin=600
BuffersBUMax=1000
BUDelay=1
UserCount=0
Sqliosim.sparse.cfg.iniUse only 32 MB of memory

Make target I/O duration large enough to enable many outstanding I/O requests

Disable scatter/gather APIs to issue separate I/O requests for every 8 KB page

Create a 1 GB non-shrinkable file

Create a 1 GB non-shrinkable secondary sparse stream in the file
MaxMemoryMB=32
TestCycles=3
TestCycleDuration=600
TargetIODuration=10000
UseScatterGather=FALSE

[File1]
FileName=sqliosim.mdx
InitialSize=1000 MaxSize=1000
Increment=10
Shrinkable=FALSE
LogFile=FALSE
Sparse=FALSE

[File2]
FileName=sqliosim.ldx
InitialSize=50
MaxSize=50
Increment=0
Shrinkable=FALSE
LogFile=TRUE
Sparse=FALSE

[File3]
FileName=sqliosim.mdx:replica
InitialSize=1000
MaxSize=1000
Increment=10
Shrinkable=FALSE
LogFile=FALSE
Sparse=TRUE

References

86903  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/86903/ ) SQL Server and caching disk controllers
234656  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/234656/ ) Using disk drive caching with SQL Server
46091  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/46091/ ) Using hard disk controller caching with SQL Server
826433  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/826433/ ) Additional SQL Server diagnostics added to detect unreported I/O problems

Applies to
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Developer
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Workgroup
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Web
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Developer
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Workgroup
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Web
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 Standard Edition
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