Although I've never understood why people will wait in lines for free samples in grocery stores, I can't get enough free resources when it comes to things like development and database administration. As such, I wanted to share some great, free resources that developers who work with SQL Server will find helpful—that I've found in fairly non-conventional locations—assuming that you love free stuff, too.

TechNet's Script Repository
The old adage, "You get what you pay for" would seem to indicate that you don't get much when it comes to many free resources. However, one great thing about development and administration is that people who spend a lot of time crafting awesome solutions is that they frequently want to share what they've done and how they've done it. To that end, the internet is chock-full of lots of great, free, resources.

One resource that I bumped into a long while ago and bookmarked but somehow strangely never seem to set enough time to explore fully is Microsoft's Script Repository, a vast repository of scripts provided by Microsoft and by its users/customers.

The Script Repository is actually part of Microsoft's Script Center, out on TechNet. But what I love about the repository is that it's pretty easy to "slice and dice" through the available scripts, and if you poke around for a few minutes you can see that there are simply gobs of different, free, scripts that can be used for a huge variety of SQL Server purposes.

Some of these scripts are really powerful offerings in and of themselves, while others might be a bit of data or superseded by better approaches that you can find in books or some blogs. But given just how many scripts there are, this site provides a great resource for learning about how to tackle various SQL Server tasks and operations—and is well worth a glance.

Free Goodies from Third-Party SQL Server Vendors
As I opined about a year and a half ago, one of the great things that makes the SQL Server development and DBA community such a great place is the excellent support provided by many third-party SQL Server vendors. Make no mistake: These vendors do want to sell you their tools and services.

But to do that, these vendors all actively participate in the SQL Server community in order to establish themselves as being able to provide viable solutions and practical value. And one way that they showcase their ability to solve real-world problems is through the distribution of not only free tools and solutions in many cases, but also in the form of free resources, documentation, and even training that's not specifically tied to their products.

As such, third-party SQL Server vendors actually provide a veritable cornucopia of free resources for developers and DBAs. Here's a quick list of some of the resources that I happen to know about.

Quest Software
In addition to the freeware version of Toad for SQL Server, Quest Software also provides a host of different tools and solutions for SQL Server, including a number of free knowledge and training resources. Among these resources are SQLServerPedia.com, which itself contains all sorts of free tutorials, documentation, and other helpful resources—including links to past and current online training events. Quest's site also provides one of my all-time-favorite, free, resources available online: a .pdf containing detailed, aggregated, information on how to make heads or tails of SQL Server (and Windows) performance counters that can be used to help troubleshoot SQL Server performance-tuning needs.



Red Gate Software
Red Gate provides free tools as well, in the form of their highly acclaimed SQL Search 1.0. Similarly, Red Gate also effectively sponsors the upkeep and operation of SQLServerCentral.com, a longtime presence in the SQL Server community. But one thing that I also love about Red Gate is that they actually made a leap into the publishing business a while ago—to the point where I actually own a number of the books they've published. However, what's even better is that a large percentage of their great books on SQL Server are actually available as totally free downloads in .pdf format, making them a great, free, resource for tech professionals who work with SQL Server. Similarly, Red Gate also goes out of its way to regularly sponsor and host free, online, webinars and training—such as the free seminar I recently presented on SQL Server Disaster Recovery and Prevention.

Idera
Idera also offers a bevy of free SQL Server tools. They've also begun a blog on SQL Server performance topics and have also amassed a large number of free tips and tricks documents and white papers. Likewise, Idera also regularly sponsors the Secrets of SQL Server monthly webcast in conjunction with MSSQLtips.com—as another way of both bolstering SQL Server training and learning while getting the word out about their products and offerings.

A Benefit for Devs and DBAs
There's no mistaking that third-party SQL Server vendors want to sell you their products. And, frankly, the same could be said of the Script Center on TechNet. It's really just an extension, in many ways, of Microsoft's marketing wing, as it's designed to ensure continued success and happiness among users of Microsoft's products.

But I personally love the fact that many of the major third-party SQL Server vendors do such a great job of keeping up with the overall community and reaching out to SQL Server developers and users in terms of providing them with free training and instruction. Yes, that training and instruction frequently ends up being sponsored by certain products—or has easy tie-ins to various offerings, but by-and-large, these free resources and content are all very well worth a look.

Michael K. Campbell ( mike@overachiever.net) is a contributing editor for SQL Server Magazine and a consultant with years of SQL Server DBA and developer experience. He enjoys consulting, development, and creating free videos for www.sqlservervideos.com.

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