Attempting SUM() OVER () in PowerShell

Words: 891

Time to read: ~ 5 minutes


Like most things in life, this piece of work came about while attempting to complete something else. It’s not a bad thing, I expect it at this stage.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

I find it easy to get the total of a row in SQL. Hell, when it is not particularly important, I’ll even go the easy route and use a calculated column in the table.

CREATE TABLE dbo.PushupsOctober
	pushup_date date NOT NULL
	attempt_01 tinyint NULL,
	attempt_02 tinyint NULL,
	attempt_03 tinyint NULL,
	attempt_04 tinyint NULL,
	attempt_05 tinyint NULL,
	attempt_06 tinyint NULL,
	attempt_07 tinyint NULL,
	attempt_08 tinyint NULL,
	total_pushups_per_day AS (ISNULL(attempt_01, 0) + ISNULL(attempt_02, 0) + ISNULL(attempt_03, 0) + ISNULL(attempt_04, 0) + ISNULL(attempt_05, 0) + ISNULL(attempt_06, 0) + ISNULL(attempt_07, 0) + ISNULL(attempt_08, 0))

Then, all I have to do is insert the data and SQL will automatically take care of calculating the total per row for me.

INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/07/2020 00:00:00', 20, 20, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL);
INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/08/2020 00:00:00', 20, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL);
INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/09/2020 00:00:00', 20, 20, 25, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL);
INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/10/2020 00:00:00', 25, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL);
INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/11/2020 00:00:00', 0, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL);
INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/12/2020 00:00:00', 25, 25, 25, 25, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL);
INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/13/2020 00:00:00', 20, 15, 15, 25, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL);
INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/14/2020 00:00:00', 30, 30, 20, 20, 25, 20, 20, 20);
INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/15/2020 00:00:00', 25, 25, 25, 25, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL);
INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/16/2020 00:00:00', 25, 25, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL);
INSERT INTO dbo.PushupsOctober (pushup_date, attempt_01, attempt_02, attempt_03, attempt_04, attempt_05, attempt_06, attempt_07, attempt_08) Values('10/17/2020 00:00:00', 25, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL);

FROM	dbo.PushupsOctober;
Why count when not need to?

Once you have the total per row, you throw in a SUM(that total) OVER () and you have a grand total. Thank you to Kevin Wilkie ( blog | twitter ) for re-igniting my curiosity about Window Functions again.

		SUM(p.total_pushups_per_day) OVER () AS total_so_far 
FROM	dbo.PushupsOctober AS p;
Total total

Easy Like Monday Morning

PowerShell is a different beast. Please don’t get me wrong; I still love the language. I don’t find it easier to get a row total and then a grand total though.

It’s possible! I’m just hoping that there is a better way. Saying all that here is my attempt at a row total and grand total using PowerShell.

If you have a better way (you choose the conditions that satisfy “better”) please let me know.

Grabbing the Data

First, let’s grab the data from the table in our database.

$data_2 = Invoke-DbaQuery -SqlInstance localhost -Database LocalTesting -Query @'
SELECT * FROM dbo.PushupsOctober;

Removing Unwanted Properties

Here’s where I remembered that I had a calculated column, realised that it would be cheating to use it and decided it needed to go. Thankfully, this also enabled me to get rid of those pesky columns that get returned from Invoke-DbaQuery when you forget the parameter -As PSObject!

$data_2 = $data_2 | Select * -ExcludeProperty RowError, RowState, Table, ItemArray, HasErrors, total_pushups_per_day

Grabbing Property Names

There’s a couple of things that we need here. We need a way to add up all the “attempt” columns so we need a way to select them all.

$props = $data_2[0].PSObject.Properties | Where-Object Name -like 'attempt*' | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Name

There, that should do nicely!

Grabbing the Values for those Properties

Now, we can iterate over them and get all the values.

foreach ($p in $props) { $data_2[0] | Select -ExpandProperty $p }

Potential Problem

See all those empty lines? Yep, that’s a potential problem for Measure-Object.

$hasToBeAnEasierWay = foreach ($p in $props) { $data_2[0] | Select -ExpandProperty $p }
$hasToBeAnEasierWay | Measure-Object -Sum

Removing NULL or WhiteSpace

Thankfully, there’s a way to get rid of those empty lines.

$hasToBeAnEasierWay | Where-Object { -Not [String]::IsNullOrWhiteSpace($_) } | Measure-Object -Sum

Putting it ALL Together

Now that we have the skeleton of a script ready, let’s put it all together.

Row total

$data_2 | ForEach-Object -Begin {
    $props = $data_2[0].PSObject.Properties | Where-Object Name -like 'attempt*' | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Name
} -Process {
    $total = $null
    $hasToBeAnEasierWay = $null

    $hasToBeAnEasierWay = foreach ($prop in $props) {
        $_ | Select-Object -ExpandProperty $prop
    $total = ($hasToBeAnEasierWay | Where-Object { -Not [String]::IsNullOrWhiteSpace($_) } | Measure-Object -Sum).Sum

    $_ | Select-Object -Property *, @{
        Name = 'total_per_day'
        Expression = { $total }
    }, @{
        Name = 'days_left'
        Expression = { ((Get-Date -Date '2020-10-31') - (Get-Date -Date $_.pushup_date)).Days }
} -OutVariable data_3 | Format-Table -Autosize

We now have the row total in our total_per_day property. And, with our use of -outvariable data_3, we have the results saved into a variable called $data_3 .

Grand Total

Once we have a single column that we can sum up to give us our grand total, then PowerShell makes this operation trivial.

I do have to use Format-List here because Format-Table can’t fit all the properties in so our new property total_so_far won’t show up.

$data_3 | Select-Object -Property *, @{
    Name = 'total_so_far'
    Expression = { ($data_3 | Measure-Object -Property total_per_day -Sum).Sum }
} | Format-List

There We Go!

While, I’d argue that it’s not as easy as SQL, it’s completely possible to get row totals and grant totals in PowerShell.

Honestly though, I hope there’s an easier way. Otherwise, I’m going to do it in SQL and then grab it out into PowerShell afterwards.

T-SQL Tuesday #131: Data Analogies, or: Explain Databases Like I’m Five!

Words: 906

Time to read: ~ 5 minutes

Welcome to T-SQL Tuesday! This month’s host is Rob Volk (blog|twitter) and the topic is Data Analogies.


Come in! Come in, my boy!
Now, your father sent you to me to explain what I used to do.
Well, I was a DBA, my boy!
What do you mean “what does that do”? I took care of the databases! I made sure that they were looked after, that they had vim and vigour, and that they didn’t go down.

What? No, I don’t mean “down-down”, it’s not a direction! I mean that they didn’t go offline. No, not “off-off”, well not quite… It was my duty to ensure that they were available. Got it? No?

Database Administration

Well, let’s take that whiskey cabinet over there Jas…Jaeysin. Let us say that the whiskey cabinet is our database, and it is our job to see that it is never empty. We do that by lots of ways; by checking on it and making sure that nothing is alarming, like empty bottles. We check that there is space if someone wants to add more whiskey and that anyone who wants something from it, can get it. Like me, hehe.

What? You don’t understand how that’s like being a DBA? Well think about it my boy, I would check on the databases, make sure nothing was alarming, and that the data was always available for whoever wanted it.


What’s that? You want some? Ho ho, my boy, you are one for jests. I tell you what, try opening the cupboard door on the left. Yes, the one where you can see all the sticks and cherries through the glass. Not a problem for you, was it? Put back the cherry, please. And wipe your hands…NOT ON THE GLASS!
Nevermind, my boy, nevermind, I shouldn’t have put the soda water in a dangerous place like that…inside a cupboard…away from the ledge. Try and open the right cupboard door now. Yes, the one with the fancy bottles and the shiny lights. Yes, I’m aware it’s locked. Now see, you cannot open that door but I can because I have permission to open that door.
That was another part of my job, making sure that people had the right permission to get what they wanted, and that people without permission could not.

What’s that? Who decides on the permissions? Well, back then, it was a business decision. Where those higher up in standing would pick, and I would have to follow their instructions. Now, I’m in charge.

What do you mean that’s not what your father says? Right, well, I’ll be having a few words with him, and we’ll see more about this “under his partner’s thumb” business. No, I can’t open it either. Because I don’t have the key. Yeah well, I may be db_owner, but not sysadmin… Nevermind.


What else did I do? Well, I made sure those who wanted data from the database knew where they could get the data and could get the data promptly.
Well, do you see the whiskey cabinet? Yes, the one on the right. Yes, the one you’re not allowed open. Yes, you’re allowed to look…oi! Quit your cheek, or I’ll add that to the list of things I’ll have to talk to your father about.
Now, if someone were to go to that cabinet wanting a nice Scotch, they only have to reach into the middle shelf, and they would have a whole choice of Scotch to choose from. I know that because I know that my middle shelf is only for Scotch.
Same with the databases; I helped people to create tables to hold their similar data the same way I choose that shelf to have my Scotch.

And see the way that the bottles get fancier as you scan your eyes from left to right. I ordered that shelf, so the most expensive bottles were all the way over there on the right. And, the least expensive bottles are all over to the left.
Same with the databases; I would create indexes so that people could go to what they wanted, whether that be the “expensive bottles” or not.
No more looking through the entire table for what they want, they knew exactly where to go and knew when they could stop looking as well.

What? Indexes, my boy, an index. No, it hasn’t nothing to do with your finger! Wait! You may be on to something there. Tell me, have you ever run your index finger down a phone book? A phone book. You’ve never heard of it? Hold on…this thing? Ever seen this? Big yellow book, lots of information? Yes, I know we have Google, nevermind.


Was that it? No lad, that was not it. The world of data is vast and open. So much more than what an analogy using a whiskey cabinet can provide. But I will leave you with one more analogy; Redundancy. It’s always essential to have a redundant copy of your data, a recovery plan if a disaster were ever to strike.
Open that desk drawer for me, my boy. Yes, it’s another bottle of whiskey. A redundant backup, if you would. Now I believe I see your father pull into the drive, so it is time for you to leave. I shall go see if my backup can still be restored.

Goodbye, you little disaster.

Minimum Permissions for Get-DbaDbUser

Words: 806

Time to read: ~ 4 minutes

Update: 2020-07-15 – Thank you Garry Bargsley for being an unofficial editor 🙂

Update: 2020-07-17 – Thanks to Shawn Melton for spot-checking this and letting me know ALL permissions needed!

All Users:
A user on the database with ALTER ANY USER permission.

Current User and System Users:
To work against all databases for the current user and system users requires CONNECT ANY DATABASE.



Thanks to Shawn Melton for pointing out that CONNECT ANY DATABASE allows the user to see only themselves and the system users.

To see all users from Get-DbaDBUser, the caller will need a user on the databases and the permissions ALTER ANY USER.


Get-DbaDbUser -SqlInstance localhost -SqlCredential $Cred -Database __DBA -EnableException -Verbose |
    Group-Object -Property Database

4 records are returned – the user itself and the system users.



CREATE USER LimitedPermissions FROM LOGIN LimitedPermissions;

GRANT ALTER ANY USER TO LimitedPermissions;

The LimitedPermissions login now has a user in the database and we’ve granted that user the ALTER ANY USER permission.

Get-DbaDbUser -SqlInstance localhost -SqlCredential $Cred -Database __DBA -EnableException -Verbose |
    Group-Object -Property Database

Now, we can see all the users; the user itself, the system users, and the other user I created on the database.

Original Article

The Backstory

Work is in the process of automating tasks. Part of this automation includes verifying the automation that we’ve done.

Where am I going with this?

Well, when we’ve automated the creation of database users we also want to verify that we’ve created the users that we say we’ve created.

My fellow co-workers have, thankfully, seen the dbatools light and we use the command Get-DbaDbUser to get the users in a database and compare the list against the users we were supposed to create.

If there are any users that should have been created but don’t show up, well then we have a problem.

The Principle of Least Privilege

Works fine for me […] but it looks like […] can’t run it with her “public” access to the db server.

I’m not going to sugarcoat things – the person that sent me the request has more access than they rightly need. The “public” access worker did not need any of that access so I wasn’t going to just give her the same level.

Plus, we’re supposed to be a workforce that has embraced the DevOps spirit and DevOps is nothing if it doesn’t include Security in it.

So, if I could find a way to give the user enough permission to run the command and not a lot more, then the happier I would be.

But, I was surprised how difficult it was to find out what permissions were needed to run Get-DbaDbUser. Even more surprised when I failed and realised I’d have to find out myself.

If anyone else can Google/Bing it and get the answer, please let me know 😐

The Test

Let’s create a new user with no permissions in SQL Server.

USE [master];

CREATE LOGIN LimitedPermissions WITH PASSWORD = N'MorePermissionsMoreProblems!';

Now let’s test it out. I have a database in my instance called __DBA. Can we access the users in that database?

    Username = LimitedPermissions
    Password = 'MorePermissionsMoreProblems!'
Get-DbaDbUser -SqlInstance localhost -SqlCredential $Cred -Database __DBA -EnableException

It doesn’t work. What’s even more surprising is that it silently doesn’t work. No warnings, no permissions errors, or nothing. And I included the -EnableException switch!

The Investigation

It’s good to know that you can check out the contents of the dbatools (and other) commands from PowerShell. No, I’m not talking about opening the .ps1 files. I’m talking about using the Function:\ psdrive.

Get-ChildItem -Path Function:\Get-DbaDbUser |
    Select-Object -ExpandProperty Definition

See those $server.databases and $db.users? For me, that means that it’s using SMO (Server Management Objects). If there was any hope of me google/binging permissions before this, well it’s gone now.

The Will is going

To cut a rather long story short, eventually I came to the idea of thinking that maybe it only needs to connect to the database. So let’s try that.


CREATE USER LimitedPermissions FROM LOGIN LimitedPermissions;

And now let’s try our Get-DbaDbUser command again.

Get-DbaDbUser -SqlInstance localhost -SqlCredential $Cred -Database __DBA -EnableException -Verbose |
    Select-Object Database, Name, LoginType, UserType


Let’s try all of the databases on the instance now

Get-DbaDbUser -SqlInstance localhost -SqlCredential $Cred -EnableException -Verbose |
    Group-Object -Property Database
Oh it has the system databases as well now!

Apart, from the system databases (excluding model) it only works on __DBA.

Give it all

Now, let’s use the CONNECT ANY DATABASE server permission.

USE [master];

And we’ll run against all databases again.

Get-DbaDbUser -SqlInstance localhost -SqlCredential $Cred -EnableException -Verbose |
    Group-Object -Property Database

Sin é

That’s it! Minimum permissions that I could find for Get-DbaDbUser is the permission to connect to the database.

Hope that helps!

Retrospective: Speaking at DataScotland

Words: 315

Time to read: 1.5 minute

Data Scotland

On the 13th of September 2019, I spoke at DataScotland; my first time talking at a data conference.

My quasi-clickbait title was Feel Validated with dbachecks. If you guessed that I was talking about dbachecks then you’re right.

This is a brief retrospective of that time. Thinking back on that time still makes me relive the emotions that I felt. Nervousness, excitement, and panic.

Good times!


This was my first time speaking at a conference as well as my first time attending Data Scotland.

I recommend that you check it out. It’s an amazing conference created by passionate people and staffed by dedicated volunteers.

The Good

What didn’t count as the good is the way to put this!

  • Amazing fellow speakers.
  • Getting to meet other first-time speakers.
  • Talking with the volunteers.
  • Speaking with attendees.
  • Seeing people who I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Thank you to Craig Porteous, Louise Paterson, Paul Broadwith, and Robert French for all your work and encouragement.

Thank you as well to Brent Miller, Andrew Pruski, David Alcock, and John McCormack for help with the presentation.

The Bad

Feeling drained.

I don’t put this down to DataScotland though.
You may not have heard from me for the last month. I felt drained and took time off from public exposure.

A full year of constant working on the day job and personal work.
2 conferences a month on average for the last year.
Spreading myself out on projects about SQL, PowerShell, Containers, Python, AWS, and Azure without rest.
It’s not something I could sustain without factoring in sharpening the axe time.


I’m easing myself back into things again with the caveat of planning ahead and making sure I don’t overwhelm myself.
First thing on my list, planning for DataScotland next year.

Whether it’s speaking, volunteering, or attending, I’ll be there.

T-SQL Tuesday #86: SQL Server Bugs & Enhancement Requests

The Good, the Bad, and the Bug-ly.

The Good, the Bad, and the Bug-ly.

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is brought to us by Brent Ozar ( work | personal | tweets ) and has to do with SQL Server Bugs and Enhancement requests on Microsoft Connect.

Now the reason that this is the topic of this month’s T-SQL Tuesday is nicely spelled out by the host himself:

Now, more than ever, Microsoft has started to respond to Connect requests and get ’em fixed not just in upcoming versions of SQL Server, but even in cumulative updates for existing versions.

If you’ve kept an ear to the ground and an eye out on the social media, (seriously get on Twitter if you haven’t already; with #sqlhelp and #sqlfamily, you’ll never be alone, stuck, and/or bored again), you’d realise that this is true. Microsoft has engaged more than ever with it’s audiences, from hiring a PowerShell developer to actively engaging in various Trello Channels. So much so that a twitterbot was created to keep track of Connect items closed as fixed (Closed As Fixed) by MVP Chrissy LeMaire ( blog | tweets ).

Shameless Plug:

Now, I happen to have a Connect item and I’m going to link to it here. I can do this as this blog shares a commonality with Lesley Gore’s birthday party song. (It’s mine and I can cry if I want to)

The Good…

First of all, lets see what we’re running on here…




I really should be doing these against SQL Server 2016… 😦

First contender: Inserting to an indexed view can fail

What would happen if I told you that, with regards to a view, sometimes inserting into the table could fail? Well that’s what this Connect item from Dave_Ballantyne found, along with the reason.

    Id integer not null,
    InView char(1) not null,
    SomeData varchar(255) not null

    LEFT(SomeData, CHARINDEX('x', SomeData) - 1) AS leftfromx
    InView ='Y'




Now that we have the groundwork laid out, it’s time for our insert attempt:

DECLARE @id integer,
@inview char(1),
@Somedata char(50)

SELECT @id = 1,
@inview = 'N',
@Somedata = 'a'

INSERT INTO myTable(Id, InView, SomeData)
SELECT @id, @inview, @Somedata


Do you see a LEFT() or SUBSTRING() ANYWHERE there???

He’s even gone so far as to give an explanation as to why this happens!

This is due to the compute scalar being executed prior to the filter.

Taking a look at the estimated execution plan, we can see that he’s right!

Let’s do it first, then see if we should have!

Imagine trying to troubleshoot what was causing the inserts to fail? Horrible! I can imagine tearing my hair out at that one!

I have this done as “The Good” just for the fact that, not content to just report the bug, Dave_Ballantyne even went so far as to find the possible cause. Now it’s just up to Microsoft to get to the fixing…

…The Bad…

Next up, we have moody31415 with “Can’t create Materialized View that references same table twice


CREATE TABLE test (A int)
SELECT t1.A, t2.A as A2
FROM dbo.test T1
JOIN dbo.test T2 ON T1.A=T2.A

The problem occurs when we try to add a unique clustered index on this bad boy:

on dbo.vTest (A, A2)


Ever get those times where you just can’t stand yourself?

Now, I originally put this down as “The Bad” because I thought that the issue could be down to trying essentially index the same column twice but that’s not the case…

CREATE TABLE dbo.B (col1 tinyint, col2 tinyint)
CREATE VIEW dbo.SecondOne
SELECT t1.col1, t2.col2
FROM dbo.B AS t1
JOIN dbo.B AS t2 ON t1.col1 = t2.col1
ON dbo.SecondOne (col1, col2)


…I mean After-A-Massive-Meal-Cant-Stand-Yourself

In the end, the reason that I have this in “The Bad” section is that I went to the documentation and read this part…

The SELECT statement in the view definition must not contain the following Transact-SQL elements: […] self-joins […]

Now it’s unknown whether this was there when this Connect item was created, but it’s there now (and I didn’t have enough time to re-plan this blog post)

…and The Bug-ly.

In my quest through the magical lands of Connect I stumbled across this little beauty of a bug by Anatoly V. Popov that I had to mention as “The Bug-ly”.

Altering indexed view silently removes all indexes

Yes, I know it’s the same as my one but dammit if I don’t think it’s a bug! That’s why it’s getting my “The Bug-ly” title.
This leaves me with a bit of a conundrum though…Do I close mine and comment on this one to get re-opened? Or do I try and continue to push on my one?

To be honest I don’t know which option to choose but, for anyone new to SQL Server, filing a Connect Item is an exciting but nerve-wracking time.
Exciting because you’ve worked with SQL Server enough to think you know how something should be done.
However, it’s nerve-wracking because you haven’t worked with SQL Server for long enough to know if you are just whining or have an actual item to be taken seriously.

Finding this Connect item was a small little shot of validation for me. Just a little something to say “Hey, I thought this too and I’m with you”.


It’s a great thing that Microsoft have started to respond to the Connect Items again and going through them you realise how different people are using SQL Server in ways that you didn’t even think to imagine.

So check out a few, leave your comment and up-vote/down-vote as you see fit.

Just…just don’t be this guy please




The Danger of Disabled Logins

When disabling sysadmin logins just ain’t enough

words: 691

Reading Time: ~3 minutes


I’m becoming more and more of a fan of Powershell the more that I interact with it. And I’m a big fan of the work that those over at dbatools are doing (seriously, check it out and also check out their Slack channel).

So when reading an article by Steve Jones (b|t) that mentions using Powershell, especially dbatools, I took immediate attention!

However, while reading the blog, what jumped out at me was the fact that dbatools copies the logins and the passwords. I think that’s epic and saves so much hassle, especially with migrations and environment creation.

But when you script out a login in SSMS, you get the following “warning comment” (and this comes straight from Microsoft) :

/* For security reasons the login is created disabled and with a random password. */

I understand why you don’t want to script out a login’s password for security reasons but disabling it…does that even do anything?

Something that I only recently learned is that, for logins with high privileges, disabling them is not enough; they must be removed.

Overkill, I hear you say?

Example, I retort!


I will admit that for my example to work, there needs to be help from a member of the securityadmin server role login. So for this example we’re going to have…

  1. A disabled sysadmin login,
  2. A “compromised” securityadmin login,
  3. An “attacking” low-privilege login.

Window 1 (High Permission Account):

-- Create a high privilege login (HPL)
    WITH PASSWORD = '1m5trong15wear!';

    ADD MEMBER AllThePower;

-- Disable it.

-- Create a "compromised" login
    WITH PASSWORD = 'AlreadyHereButCompromised';

-- Make them part of security so can grant permissions
ALTER SERVER ROLE securityadmin
    ADD MEMBER Enabler;

-- Create a low privilege login (LPL)
    WITH PASSWORD = 'NotAsStrongButDoesntMatter';



So now we have all our actors created, we need to connect to the database with all 3 accounts.

Simple as “Connect” -> “Database Engine” -> Change to SQL Auth. and put in the details above for who you want.

Window 2 (CopyCat):

First things first, check who we are and who can we see?

-- Who are we?
    SUSER_NAME() AS LoginName,
    USER_NAME() AS UserName;

-- Who can we see?
FROM sys.server_principals;


We can’t see “Enabler” or “AllThePower”

Okay, so we can’t see it but we know that it’s there.

Let’s just cut to the chase and start “God-mode”

-- Can we get all the power

It was worth a shot…

Can we impersonate it?

-- Can we impersonate AllThePower
    SUSER_NAME() AS LoginName,
    USER_NAME() AS UserName;


I’ve put the different possibilities on individual lines…We “do not have permission” btw

Time to go to our compromised account:

Window 3 (Enabler):

Now, who are we and what can we see?

Sauron: I SEE YOU!

Notice that “Enabler” as part of securityadmin can see the disabled “AllThePower” login?

Great, we can see it, so let’s promote our CopyCat login!

Look but don’t touch

So even though we’re now a member of the securityadmin role, we still can’t promote our login!

I think you’d be safe in thinking that people would give up here, but we know from server_principals that “AllThePower” is there, even though it’s disabled!

So even though we don’t have the ability to promote our login, we do have something that we can do in our power.


-- Give CopyCat Grant permission

Every little helps

Window 2 (CopyCat):

Now can we impersonate our Disabled login?

Whoooo are you? Who-oo? Who-oo?

And can we get all the power?

I know an uh-oh moment when I see it…

Finally, we’ll revert our impersonation and see if we actually are sysadmin?

-- Go back
SUSER_NAME() AS LoginName,
USER_NAME() AS UserName;

-- Are we superuser?


And now I can do whatever I feel like, anything at all!


I’m a fan of removing high-permission accounts that are not needed but I’ve never put into words why. Now I know why disabling is just not enough and, for me, removing them is the option.

sp_rename to change schema?

words: 519

Reading time: ~2.5 minutes

The Set Up:

Recently I was asked by a developer whether they could use sp_rename to change the schema of a table.

I said no but I realised that I don’t know for sure as I’ve never tried it this way.

Granted I have never needed to when we have such a descriptive command like ALTER SCHEMA.

So I tested to see if sp_rename could change the schema of a table and thought I would share my results.

Here they are:


Script 1:

SELECT [Schema Name] = SCHEMA_NAME([schema_id]),
 [Table Name] = [name]
 FROM sys.tables
 WHERE [name] = N'Alphanumeric';


Now taking a look at the documentation for “sp_rename”, turns out all we need is

  1. the current name,
  2. the new name we want to call it, and
  3. an optional object type (which I’ll include because I like typing).

So with that, it seems simple to run the following…

Script 2:

 EXEC sp_rename
 @objname = N'dbo.Alphanumeric',
 @newname = N'deleteable.Alphanumeric',
 @objtype = 'OBJECT';

That error message! I enjoy that error message 🙂

So now all there is left to do is check if it worked, so we run our first script again and we get???:


I repeat the above: eh…what???

Where did my table go???

Please tell me I didn’t delete the table? It’s a test system and I took a backup before starting but it’s a whole lot of hassle to recreate the table.

However, on a whim, I changed my first query to use a LIKE:

Script 3:


So I haven’t changed the schema? I’ve renamed it to be dbo.deletable.Alphanumeric?

Is that even query-able?

SELECT * FROM dbo.deleteable.Alphanumeric; -- Fails!

SELECT * FROM [dbo].[deleteable.Alphanumeric]; -- Works!

Okay, let’s just change it back quickly and pretend it never happened:

Script 4:

EXEC sp_rename
@objname = N'deletable.Alphanumeric',
@newname = N'Alphanumeric',
@objtype = 'OBJECT';

You’re killing me!!

Okay, okay maybe it’s like the SELECT statement and I need to wrap it in square brackets?

Script 5:

EXEC sp_rename
@objname = N'[deletable.Alphanumeric]',
@newname = N'[Alphanumeric]',
@objtype = 'OBJECT';

I count that as a metaphorical middle finger to me…

Maybe we’re being too specific?

Script 6:

EXEC sp_rename '[deleteable.Alphanumeric]', 'Alphanumeric';

Hopes are up…

A quick run of our first script to confirm?

…and we’re back to normal!!!

Now, as to why that syntax works but the others don’t…I have no idea.

I will try and figure that out (fodder for another blog post 🙂 ) but I’m going to need a few more coffees before I go touch that again.


It’s a bit sad though… all that hassle for something that didn’t even work in the end?

Now, lets check out the documentation of “ALTER SCHEMA”.

  1. where we are changing it to, and
  2. what we’re changing.

Seems simple, but then so did sp_rename and that burnt me.

Script 7:

Give my “deleteable” the “dbo.Alphanumeric” object!

A quick check to see if it actually worked as I’m not swayed anymore just by a lack of warnings:


Sum it up:

If I didn’t know the answer at the start, I definitely do now.

Can you change the schema of an object by using “sp_rename”?

Hell no.

Save yourself the hassle and just stick to ALTER SCHEMA. It’s easier, believe me.


[SQL Server] Efficiency of Permission Granting.

Words: 349

Reading Time: ~1.5 minutes.

The lead up

Recently I was asked to create a temporary user with SELECT permissions on a database.

So far, not a problem. Taking advantage of the pre-defined roles in SQL Server, I just add this new user to the pre-defined role [db_datareader], which grants SELECT permissions to all tables and views in a database.

Why would I grant SELECT permissions this way and not manually choose the tables and views that this user could connect to?


  1. This is a test server so there is no sensitive information held that I’m worried about blocking access to,
  2. I didn’t get the exact requirements of the tables this user is to query so I don’t know which tables/views to grant access to and which to deny access to (I consider this a mistake on my part and something I have to act on next time),
  3. The test user is only required for 2 days, after which it is getting reviewed and deleted as quickly as I can, and
  4. Efficiency.

Efficiency, how?

Why grant SELECT on tables individually when I can grant on all tables in 1 fell swoop?

In the same vein, hypothetically speaking, if I was asked to grant SELECT permissions on 96 out of 100 tables, I would GRANT SELECT on all of them and then DENY SELECT on the 4 required as long as no column-level GRANTs have been given on those tables.


A recent notion that came to me was that one of the roles of a DBA is to gather knowledge, but to a level that promotes efficiency.

Sure, we know how to grant permissions, but we should also know the pitfalls, such as “deny beats grant unless the grant is on the column level” or “there are some combinations of permissions that allow more than intended“.

Knowing these caveats allows us to say when options can be automated or where rules need to be added to check for different statuses.

This will allow us to move on to the next aspect that needs a DBA’s eye and gentle guiding touch…or 2 cups of coffee and a full throttling !