SSMS 2016 Policy Management Quote Parsing Error

I discovered a bug today in 2016 Management Studio when creating and updating policies. It drove me crazy until I realized what was going on, causing lots of lost time. Hopefully this will get fixed fast; we are reporting it immediately because I couldn’t find any references to it already out there. Special thanks to Kenneth Fisher for helping confirm that it wasn’t just affecting me.

The Problem

In the latest release of SSMS 2016, 16.5.1 and newer, policy conditions are removing quotes on each save, causing parse errors.

Vote the Connect up. A fix for this should be released in the next few weeks, but it doesn’t hurt to show your support for Policy Based Management.


I’ll walk through a full, simplified policy creation showing how I discovered the problem, but it can be recreated by just editing a condition.

I created a new policy named Test and a new condition, also named Test. I set the condition facet to server, and input the following code into the field to create an ExecuteSql statement. Everything requiring a quote inside of the string has to have at least double quotes.

Executesql('string',' Select ''One'' ')


Once the code was input, you can see below that the code parsed correctly. SSMS was happy with it, so I hit OK to continue.


I finished creating the policy, everything was still looking fine.


I then went to Evaluate the policy. The policy failed, as I expected. That’s not the point. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the Select One statement is no longer surrounded by double quotes. That shouldn’t have happened.


I opened the Condition itself and received a parse error. Without the required double quotes, the Condition was broken.


I tested this by creating or editing a condition without a policy or evaluating it and got the same results using SSMS 2016 on two separate computers, versions 16.5.1 and 17.0 RC1. When using SSMS 2012 or 2014, the code was not altered, everything worked as it should have. Finally, Kenneth happened to have an older version of SSMS 2016 and could not reproduce my error until he updated to the latest version of SSMS 2016, indicating that it is a recently introduced bug.

And again, if you haven’t already, vote up the Connect item.


Hyper-V VM Network Connectivity Troubleshooting

Last week I detailed my problems in creating a Virtual Machine in Hyper-V after not realizing that I had failed to press any key and thus start the boot process. Well, I had another problem with Hyper-V after that. Getting the internet working on my VM turned out to be another lesson in frustration. Worse, there was no good explanation for the problem this time.

Problem: A new VM has no internet connectivity even though a virtual switch was created and has been specified.


Solution: Getting the internet working on my VM was a multistep process, and I can’t really say exactly what fixed it. Here are the steps I tried though:


Sadly, that is the best advice I can give you. If you have created a virtual switch, and the internet isn’t working correctly, select everything, and then uncheck whatever settings you don’t actually want. It sounds screwy, but it worked for me. This forces the VM to reconfigure the settings and resets connectivity.

Supposedly the only important setting on the virtual switch properties would be to ensure that you have Allow management operating system to share this network adapter. That will allow your computer and your VM to both have internet access. When I first set this, however, the PC lost internet while the VM had an incredibly slow connection. Needless to say, that was not good enough. Disabling the option did nothing but revert back to my original problem though.

For good measure, I then checked Enable virtual LAN identification  for management operating system. Nothing special still, but I left it to continue troubleshooting. Later, I would uncheck that feature, but I wanted results first.


Next I went into the Network Adapter properties and checked Enable virtual LAN identification. This is another setting I would later turn back off.


Finally I restarted my PC, restarted the Virtual Machine, and for some reason, I then had consistent internet on both the VM and the PC.

Ultimately, the problem was that features needed to be reset. I’m still not sure specifically which one had to be turned on and off again, but toggling everything and restarting worked well enough for me in this case. I was just tired of fighting with it by the time it was working.

At least now I have a VM running JAVA so it won’t touch my real Operating System.

Hyper-V VM Troubleshooting

I’ve made VMs before in Hyper-V, it’s a nice way to keep things separate from your main OS and test out configurations. When you haven’t used it lately, it can also be a lesson in frustration.

My solution? It was just embarrassing.

I had a VM set up working fine, however, I didn’t need that OS anymore, and wanted a brand new VM to play with. I spun up a new VM with the same configuration settings as last time, just a different OS. Every time that I tried to boot the VM, I got the same error though.



The boot loader failed – time out.


Maybe the new ISO file was corrupt? I switched back to the original that worked for Server 2012R2 in my old VM. That didn’t make a difference.

I hunted online, I asked around. There were a few suggestions.

Review Configuration Settings. Maybe I screwed up the configuration? I rebuilt the VM and made sure all the file paths were perfect, with a new Virtual Hard Disk, just in case I had moved files or changed some folders. That didn’t change anything though.

Disable Secure Boot. I heard that caused OS boot failures. Except that didn’t change anything, and it didn’t really apply to my situation.

Unblock the files. I hear that’s always a problem on new downloads, but I”ve never seen it actually happen to me. My problems are never that simple. This was the first time I actually checked the file properties and – they were blocked! I was very excited, but this did not make a difference. It’s still a good idea to check this anytime you run a new file as it is a common issue.


The Solution

Finally, at wits end, I reopened the VM console and started the machine, and tried it again. I smashed the keyboard in frustration as it came up. This time, it went straight to installing Windows.

My nemesis in this case was a simple five word phrase that disappeared almost instantly.

Press any key to continue...

It only shows up for a couple seconds at most, and if you start the VM before you connect to it, you’ll never have a chance to hit a key. VMs don’t automatically go into boot mode, instead they just try to load the (non)existing OS.

So after all that confusion, I just wasn’t hitting a key FAST enough. Sure all those other things can be important and you should always verify your settings, but it shouldn’t have been this difficult.

Next week I’ll share the fun I had trying to get internet connectivity on my VM…



Get and Set Folder Permissions with PowerShell

Managing permissions for numerous servers is the theme today. Drilling down into a folder, right-clicking properties, then reviewing security on the same folder for potentially dozens of computers is time consuming and, with the capabilities of scripting, unnecessary.

PowerShell lets us do this very easily. The first script allows you to view each account and their corresponding read/write permissions on any number of computers. By default the script will only search the local computer. You can filter to only display a specific right. A full list and explanation of each right is available here.

Function Get-Permission
  [string[]]$ComputerName = $Env:COMPUTERNAME,
Process {
 $ComputerName |
 ForEach-Object {
 $Server = "$_"
 Write-Verbose "Getting Permissions for \\$Server\$Folder"
 (Get-Acl "\\$Server\$Folder").Access |
 Where { $_.FileSystemRights -LIKE "*$Rights*" } | Select IdentityReference, FileSystemRights, AccessControlType

Now for a simple example. Remember to supply a $ instead of a : after the drive letter, as this is designed to run remotely.

#Example of Get-Permission
Get-Permission -ComputerName "COMP1","COMP2" -Folder "C$\logs\SQL"
Now that you have verified the permissions list, you might need to make some adjustments. This set command will allow you to change $Access and $Rights for a specific $Account with minimal effort across your domain.
Function Set-Permission
  [string[]]$ComputerName = $env:COMPUTERNAME,
  [string]$Access = "Allow",
  [string]$Right = "FullControl"
Process {
  ForEach-Object {
  $Server = "$_"
  $Acl = Get-Acl "\\$Server\$Folder"
  $Rule = New-Object System.Security.AccessControl.FileSystemAccessRule("$Account","$Right","ContainerInherit,ObjectInherit","None","$Access")
  Set-Acl "\\$Server\$Folder" $Acl
  Write-Verbose "Permission Set for \\$Server\$Folder"
 And here is a quick example of how to execute the function. This can be used to allow or deny rights to the folder.
#Example Set-Permission
Set-Permission -ComputerName "Comp1","Comp2" -Folder "C$\logs\sql" -Account "Domain\ServiceUser" -Access "Allow" -Right "FullControl"

Changing Roles

I’ve made a major career change as of last month. I didn’t even get a blog posted last week due to the uncertainty and travel I’ve been doing. It’s already been a huge change, and I haven’t done much more than my new hire orientation yet!

As of last week, I am now a Microsoft employee. I’ve accepted a position as a Premier Field Engineer in SQL Server. Microsoft has been on my list as kind of a “capstone” company that I would like to work for, so when I got the chance to actually apply, I couldn’t pass it up. Working for the company the produces the product I work on will be an amazing experience, and I count myself extremely lucky to have achieved this at such a relatively young age for a SQL Server professional.

Normally this type of role would entail a great deal of travel, but I expressed my distaste for flying and the company was willing to work with me. Instead, I’ve opted to relocate about 1,000 miles, all the way to Arizona. This new experience is both exciting and stressful. It’s a new climate and a smaller town. I’m not a very outgoing person, so meeting new people here is going to be tough, and frankly I’m not even sure how to go about it. That’s going to be an ongoing challenge…

I already have, and will continue to do, a lot of flying around the country as my onboarding with Microsoft continues. The consequence (other than having to fly) is that blogs may continue to be a bit haphazard for the next month or so. Hopefully I will find some spare time between unpacking, stocking the house, and learning the area to find a good subject and queue up a stock of scheduled posts. That is the only reason I had any posts while I was moving!

I’m hoping that as I brush up on some skills and build some new test environments, I’ll have some good topics to cover in the upcoming weeks. I am very excited to start this new role that I am sure will provide me with a wealth of knowledge in the coming years.


Failover Cluster Manager Connection Error Fix

A few days ago I encountered a new error with Failover Cluster Manager.  A couple of servers had been rebuilt to upgrade them from Windows Server 2008 to 2012. They were added back to the cluster successfully. However, one of the servers would not open Failover Cluster Manager properly, and tracking down the solution took a long time.

The problem server successfully joined the cluster, but now it would not connect to the cluster using Failover Cluster Manager. If you opened up the application, it didn’t try to automatically connect, and manually connecting with the fully qualified name failed too. Below is the generated error.


I love how this error has absolutely no useful information to it. Luckily I was able to track Error 0x80010002 down online.

Research indicated that there was some sort of WMI error on the computer. Rebooting didn’t help anything, and after numerous attempts to correct/rebuild the WMI repository, not much was accomplished. Eventually, the server could connect to the cluster, but that only worked about 30% of the time, and it nearly timed out even when it did succeed! The cluster still never connected automatically.

After further poking around on the internet, I found a few suggested solutions, with my ultimate fix closely following this post. I still had to combine everything together and run scripts all over the cluster before things returned to normal.

First of all, this is a condensed version of the Cluster Query from the TechNet post linked above.

1) Cluster Query

$Nodes = Get-ClusterNode
ForEach ($Node in $Nodes)
 If($Node.State -eq "Down")
  { Write-Host "$Node : Node down skipping" }
   $Result = (Get-WmiObject -Class "MSCluster_CLUSTER" -NameSpace "root\MSCluster" -Authentication PacketPrivacy -ComputerName $Node -ErrorAction Stop).__SERVER
   Write-Host -ForegroundColor Green "$Node : WMI query succeeded"
   Write-Host -ForegroundColor Red "$Node : WMI Query failed" -NoNewline
   Write-Host  " //"$_.Exception.Message

Any server that throws an error with the above query needs to have the following scripts ran on it:

2) MOF Parser
This will parse data for the cluster file. 

cd c:\windows\system32\wbem
mofcomp.exe cluswmi.mof

FCM was still not working correctly, so I reset WMI with the following command.

3) Reset WMI Repository

Winmgmt /resetrepository

That will restart the WMI service, so you’ll probably have to try running it multiple times until all the dependent services are stopped. The command shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to process either way though.

After that, the server that failed the Cluster Query (1) was reporting good connections, but FCM still wouldn’t open properly!

I decided to try the two WMI commands (2 & 3) again on the original server that couldn’t connect to FCM. I had already ran those commands there during the initial troubleshooting, so I was starting to think this was a dead end. Still, it couldn’t hurt, so I gave it a shot.

I reopened FCM and voila! Now the cluster was automatically connecting and looking normal.

As a further note, after everything appeared to be working correctly, SQL was having trouble validating connections to each node in the cluster during install, and I had to run commands 2 & 3 on yet another node in the cluster before things worked 100%, even though that node never had a connection error using the Cluster Query (1).

SQL Server Storage: Reading Block Size

This is the final post in the SQL Server Storage line of blog posts I’ve made. First we discussed Pages & Extents, then how to Read A Page using T-SQL, and finally this post will be about Disk Partition Offsets and Allocation.

Knowing that Pages are 8 KB and Extents are 64 KB, it’s understandable that SQL would have the best performance when the disks are aligned in the same manner. However, in earlier versions of Windows, this was never the case. Instead, Windows used an alignment configuration of 63 512 Byte sectors for a total of 31.5 KB. Since the way SQL Server reads and writes was not aligned with Windows, havoc ensued in the form of increased I/O operations. As of Windows 2008, partitions are aligned at 1024 KB by default, providing fewer I/O operations since 1024 is a multiple of 64.

I tried to keep the above explanation simple, but it still got wordy. The takeaway should be: you want SQL Server disks to have a Starting Offset that is a multiple of 64 KB, with the desirable default being 1024 KB. Higher values are fine for special circumstances, just so long as your Starting Offset is evenly divisible by 64.
As for your block size, that should also be 64 KB, or the size of a single Extent, to improve performance.

There is a single script to find both Block Size and Starting Offset, and it almost even works!

Get-WmiObject win32_DiskPartition |
	SELECT SystemName, Name, BlockSize, StartingOffSet |
	FT -Auto

That script returns the correct Starting Offset, but that Block Size is a screwy number that should not be trusted. To make matters worse, you get a Partition Number, but no Drive Letter. That doesn’t help me understand if my data disk is formatted correctly. In comes another query.

Get-WmiObject -Class win32_Volume |
    FT DriveLetter, Label, BlockSize -Auto

Great, now we have an accurate BlockSize and a Drive Letter! The only problem is, now there is no Partition Number to match up with the OffSet from the first query. Getting ALL the information at one time is a pain. Luckily there are Custom Objects to help us smash results together and Win32_LogicalDisk to help us relate the drives and partitions.

$Report = @()
$Disks = Get-WMIObject Win32_logicaldisk | WHERE { $_.DriveType -eq '3' }
$Result = ForEach ( $Disk in $Disks)
    $OffSet = Get-WmiObject -Query "Associators of {Win32_LogicalDisk.DeviceID='$($Disk.DeviceID)'} WHERE ResultRole=Antecedent"
    $Report = [PSCustomObject] @{
		ComputerName = $Disk.SystemName
		DriveLetter = $Disk.DeviceID
		Partition = $OffSet.Name
		BlockSize = ( Get-WmiObject Win32_Volume | WHERE {$_.DriveLetter -eq "$($Disk.DeviceID"} | SELECT -expand BlockSize )
		StartingOffSet = $OffSet.StartingOffSet
$Result | FT -Auto

Now you can determine the Block Size and Starting Offset of your drives easily. Changing those values, well that’s another story. Normally that will require formatting the drive, so its best to get it right in the first place. Make sure all your SQL Server drives are formatted correctly before you get started. Just educate your friendly Storage Admin on what SQL Server needs so everything is correct by the time you get it.

SQL Server Storage: Reading Pages with T-SQL

This is a continuation post from last weeks’ SQL Server Storage: Pages and Extents explanation. Since the description was a bit longer than I originally expected it to be, I decided to split the scripts into more posts.

First, I’m going to quickly cover how you can see information about a specific page using T-SQL. Now, normally this won’t be of much use to you, but it’s fun to play around with a bit just to see how things are actually stored. You might have need to read a page during some heavy troubleshooting at some point in the future too.  This procedure is undocumented though, so information is scarce and the feature could disappear without notice in future versions.

To read a page, you’ll need to utilize DBCC PAGE which I’ve listed the basic layout for below.

  'DbName' OR DbId -- Database name or Database ID, either one!
  ,FileNumber -- File Number of the Page
  ,PageNumber -- Page Number in the File
  ,PrintOption -- Display option ranging from 0-3 with different info from each

Now we need to know what FileNumber and PageNumber to supply to DBCC PAGE though. Random numbers might work, but if you are actually trying to do anything halfway useful, they won’t get you far. To solve this problem, we have to utilize another procedure…DBCC IND

  'DbName' OR DbId -- Database name or Database ID, either one!
  ,TableName -- Table Name...I don't think this really needs a comment
  ,IndexId -- index_id from sys.indexes; -1 = indexes and IAMs, -2 = IAMs

Using DBCC IND we can get some relevant data to pass into DBCC PAGE. The problem is, you still need a relevant Index_ID  for the selected table. The following query can help with that. Just supply the desired TableName in the WHERE clause.

--Get the index_id relating to your desired TableName to pass into DBCC IND
SELECT * FROM sys.indexes
WHERE OBJECT_NAME(object_id) = 'TableName'


A sample result of sys.indexes. Grab the index_id and plug that into DBCC IND


With an index_id and a TableName in mind, we can get some results from DBCC IND.


If you are just testing, index_id = 1 is not a bad idea to check.

Awesome, now we have meaningful ids to use with DBCC PAGE. You’ll need to do one more thing before you run it though. Trace flag 3604 has to be set for SQL to provide output. Without it, you won’t get any results at all.


No Trace Flag means no results


With the Trace Flag on, you’ll get more data than you probably know what to do with.


DBCC Page provides LOTS of information, I only captured a tiny snippet for your visual delight

Now you know how to get page information about your tables, so long as these undocumented procedures are available. Since this post again got longer than I originally expected, I’ll cover reading and setting block sizes on your disks next week. That will involve some fun PowerShell too!

SQL Server Storage: Pages and Extents

It’s time for another SQL Server refresher today! This time we will discuss some storage basics, specifically Pages and Extents and how they relate to each other. There are a lot of resources out there discussing these storage units, but I’ve tried to put my own spin on things and aggregate as much data as I could find about them.


Naturally we are going to discuss pages first, since they are the most fundamental unit of storage for SQL Server. Pages store everything in the database and are only 8 KB small. Your entire disk I/O is performed at the page level.


An example data page layout is easier to visualize than explain

Pages have three major components, a page header, records, and the offset array. Pages start with a 96 byte header which contains meta-data, like the page number, owner’s object id, and page type. Pages end with the offset array which is 36 bytes and has pointers to each new row stored in the page.  These pointers are stored last to first, but that’s more easily explained in the picture. The offset array is essentially the index for the page. The middle of the page is the records, and consists of the remaining 8060 bytes containing stored data.

There are different types of pages, such as data, index, image, and a number of informational pages. Probably the most interesting type are overflow pages. If a row is greater than 8060 bytes, the data can be stored on overflow pages which are linked together. Overflow pages can store as much as 2GB in a single column, but obviously this is less than ideal. The performance impact increases since each extra page increases read times. The most obvious example of this situation is VARCHAR(MAX) or VARBINARY(MAX) datatypes. Data type limitations normally relate directly to the size of a page, (MAX) datatypes effectively bypass the limit and cause overflow pages. For instance, VARCHAR(8000) and NVARCHAR(4000) are the normal limits and based on the size of a single page. Using (MAX) datatypes that span multiple pages increases reads causing less than stellar performance. Queries like SELECT * can grab poorly performing datatypes accidently and should be avoided as much as possible.



Extents can be Uniform and have all the same type of pages or Mixed with a combination of page types

Simply put, extents are groups of pages. Extents consist of exactly eight contiguous pages, with every page being part of an extent. In other words, pages always come in groups of eight, so data grows in a minimum of 64 KB increments. Unlike the many types of pages, there are only two types of extents.

Mixed Extents: In these extents, pages are allocated to multiple objects, or different types of pages. New tables or indexes are put into mixed extents for storage efficiency. When a small table is made that would consist of less than eight pages, it gets stored in a mixed extent with other similarly small objects. If a database grows large enough to fill an entire extent, it can utilize the next type of extent.

Uniform Extents: These extents have pages that are all allocated to the same object. Larger databases often have extents with identical page types, such as data pages or index pages. More data can be read in a single read operation with uniform extents, so performance can see an improvement.

Originally I had planned to provide some example scripts to discover information about your pages, and storage setup, but in an effort to keep the information in byte-sized chunks, I’ll continue with that next week.

Remotely Enable Always On

Always On Availability Groups is the new feature for High Availability in SQL Server 2012. It’s been out for awhile now, but unless you have Enterprise Edition SQL, you might not have been able to use it much.

Of course you need a cluster to utilize Always On, but once that is complete, you also have to enable Always On in Configuration Manager on all your servers that will be participating in the AG as well.

Continuing on with my lazy, automated DBA goals of logging into computers as rarely as possible, I developed the below PowerShell script to connect to SQL Servers, enable Always On, and then restart the SQL Service in order for the changes to take effect.

The only thing you need to change below is the computer names, it should automatically detect your SQL instance names. If that doesn’t work (I haven’t been able to test every possible name parsing possibility), you can supply the instance names yourself.

## List Servers in AG Here ##
$Computers = 'Computer1','Computer2'
## Everything Else is Automated ##

# Finds the servers running the services, and the services' names
Invoke-Command -ComputerName $Computers -Scriptblock {
$Services = (Get-Service -Include MsSql* | Where { $_.Status -eq 'Running' } )
$Nodes = @()

# Parses the names of the SQL Instances
ForEach( $Service in $Services )
{ $Nodes += $Env:ComputerName'\'+$Service.DisplayName.Split('(')[1].Replace(')','') }

# Loops through each instance and enables AlwaysOn, restarting with -Force
ForEach ( $Node in $Nodes )
{ Enable-SQLAlwaysOn -ServerInstance $Node -Force }

# Starts SQL Service on the affected server(s) if it's still stopped
If($Services -ne $NULL)
{ Start-Service -DisplayName ($Services.DisplayName) }

The key code here for enabling Always On is this snippet below.

Enable-SQLAlwaysOn -ServerInstance $Node -Force

If the longer script cannot automatically detect your ServerInstance, you can provide it manually and run the command. Restart your SQL Service for the change to take affect.