RoyalTS (Again)

Once again, I absolutely need to call out a program called RoyalTS. Perhaps you remember when I wrote about it before? RoyalTS

I need to write about it again, for few reasons, but the main one being that it is, quite simply, a really, really nice piece of software. I honestly don’t remember what I used to do before I started using it. Just for those of you who don’t know what it is, in a nutshell it’s an RDP, VNC, and SSH client. Basically it allows you to save credentials for desktops on a folder level, connect to numerous desktops / SSH sessions.

Anyway, they’ve released a new version (v3) and it is filled with new features and a pretty overhauled GUI. I don’t know why this company isn’t getting more traction among systems administrators because it quite literally is one of about 3 programs that is always open on my computer (along with vSphere Client and a web browser).

I would HIGHLY suggest checking it out and forking over the money for either an individual or business license and at least trying it out. I’m honestly surprised these guys didn’t have a booth at VMworld, because I definitely would have stopped by and done some high pressure sales, and even brought my beautiful wife to attract the nerds in (/sarcasm).

Redgate SQL Monitor

It’s really been a while since I’ve written anything about SQL Server, and I suppose it’s just about that time for one of those tools that really make the life a database administrator a lot easier – and that is Redgate SQL Monitor. Red Gate recently released SQL Monitor 4.0, which is a bit of an upgrade from the old 3.x versions, which now includes advanced query tracing.

In a nutshell, what SQL Monitor does is connect to your SQL Server (it needs its own database for stats and such, as well as having a sysadmin account for reading database stats) and it just reports all sorts of statics on logos-redgate-sql-monitoryour SQL Server – disk and processor queues, RAM usage, database hits, etc… All of this is divided in two main areas – Alerts and Analysis. It’s an application that provides a Web Server (runs on Windows) and has a nice little web GUI that is somewhat configurable.

Alerts provide all kinds of tunable alerts – ranging from job failures to deadlocks to long running queries to even things like table blocking. You can set up email alerting as well and get emailed these alerts as they happen. At first though, I would suggest not enabling the Email Alerts, especially if you have never monitored your server before, because this thing will send you all kinds emails about things it finds (log backups overdue, index fragmentation, etc…). As I mentioned, these alerts are tunable, which is really handy. We have one job that runs in a loop for 8 hours at a time – when we first started monitoring, SQL Monitor would constantly send us emails about a long running query, since, let’s face it, 8 hours is a long running query. You can tune that though and basically tell the alert that “Hey, it’s okay if it runs for 8 hours, but if it deviates from that by more than say… 5%, then send us an alert”. These alerts at first look annoying, but once you sift through them, there is a lot very very useful data.

An example of that is that we have been having about 2 or 3 deadlocks per day. For the longest time, we weren’t sure what was causing them – we could view the first part of the query, but it was so generic that it didn’t provide enough insight in to what was causing the deadlock to really give us any meaningful information. SQL Monitor was able to give us the whole query, the job / stored proc that was causing the deadlock and that, in turn, let us figure out how to fix it (a few indexes here and there fixed that issue).

Analysis also is absolutely invaluable – I spend about 75% of my time doing systems and storage administration, and a big part of that is performance tuning / getting the best possible performance out of our equipment and servers. This includes doing things like query and SQL Job tuning. We use things like LogicMonitor that provides WMI Monitoring of the physical hardware, Nagios / Opsview that provides us with alerts on hardware usage, but nothing else really to give us specifics (and by that I mean deep specifics such as stats over time, cache hits, database size, log size, full scans, etc…) about SQL Server. SQL Monitor fills that gap really nicely. It provides in depth analysis on a daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis (the SQLMonitor database gets quite big if you keep data for that long however, we keep SQLMonitor data for 2 months and the database sits around 30 gigs).


I suppose one of the other awesome things I should mention is that it is totally cluster aware. Our previous installation was a 3 node cluster, our current is a 2 node cluster. It monitors both nodes, but of course only monitors the SQL Server instance on the server that owns the SQL Server resources (disks, etc…). They have a free trail available (14 days), so you can give it a shot.

The price tag is somewhat hefty, but if you are running a production database that either your internal users use or you have a lot of external uses, the data and stats it provides are invaluable compared to other tools.


If there was ever a tool for a systems administrator out there that had a lot of tools in one, this is it. I’m not usually a massive advocate of paid simple software, but this program is absolutely worth the money. RoyalTS has both RDP and SSH included in it as well as a pretty basic web browser for those web based interfaces you want to work on (routers, switches, load balancers, whatever hardware you have that has a web interface).

What is nice about it is that you can save all your connections and their credentials (encrypted) and sort them in folders (IE if you have a stage environment, save your those servers in a folder called Stage). Pretty nifty.

But honestly, the best part of this app is the developer. I wanted a feature added (SSH Keep alive) and went on their forums to request it. Not 24 hours later the developer had a beta for me try out and sadly it did not work. However, within 24 hours, he had another working beta out that actually did work – even my co-workers here were like “Wow, that dev is amazing!”. This is one program that I do use every single day in my job – it’s open from the time I get in work until the time I leave – I also use it for all my personal servers, virtual machines, and personal web servers – so I do have to highly recommend it.


In Linux, for the most part, you are lucky enough to have an awesome text editor. Be it gedit or kate, you’re lucky, because in Windows, you’re stuck with good old “Notepad” – which is extremely limited.

Enter Notepad++. Every kind of developer / editor / administrator will want this. Seriously. It opens just about anything – I’ve taken to sometimes writing SQL in it because it has built in SQL formatting. It natively opens XML, PHP, C++, and a whole mess of other file formats.

It is an extremely handy utility and I suggest you get it if you are running Windows in a development / sys admin environment, I highly recommend it.


If you don’t use 7-zip, now is the time to get it. I use this tool a lot and I openly support it (in fact, for the most part, it’s the only compression utility I use – a lot of files that you may come across to download on this site will be straight up .7z). You’ll need 7-Zip for Windows to extract those. Luckily most Linux users won’t need much of anything if you are using a modern distro.