As systems administrator and DBA for a large Australian ski resort, James Watson is responsible for making sure his databases are secure, accessible, and reliable to support his organization's core business products: lift tickets, ski rentals, ski lessons, and retail and food and beverage sales. Keeping the databases optimally tuned is essential, and he must be able to track database changes such as inserts, updates, and deletes for auditing purposes. Working in a shop that supports databases on multiple platforms—including Sybase, Pervasive, and MySQL—as well as six production SQL Servers and numerous development SQL Servers is enough to keep any DBA busy, but until recently, the job of accurately tracking database changes was a particular problem for Watson.
"Before we used Log Explorer, I had no accurate way of looking into a backup of a transaction log that was a couple of days or weeks old—or a live transaction log for that matter—to answer typical auditing questions like 'Who deleted that data?'" Watson explains, "I didn't feel I had an accurate knowledge of exactly what type of transactions or traffic each database was actually getting on a day-to-day basis. With Log Explorer these issues were resolved."
Lumigent Log Explorer for SQL Server is a transaction-analysis and data-recovery solution that gives you access to the database transaction log. The product lets you easily identify the source of data changes, selectively recover modified, deleted, dropped, or truncated data, and export data for follow-up analysis and reporting. With online data repair and recovery features, Log Explorer helps you maximize database availability and avoid the headaches of traditional methods of data recovery.
Watson explained his frustration with being unable to track data changes. "After a few incidents where major data was deleted and I couldn't accurately report who did it (possibly because I didn't know how to look into a transaction log), I started researching tools that had GUIs that let me easily load both live and backed-up transaction logs so I could see what transactions had taken place. I looked at a few products, but I think what made me decide on the Lumigent software was how reasonably priced it was."
Watson also appreciates Log Explorer's notification features. The product will notify him about actions such as object creation, drops, or alterations; execution of DBCC commands; deadlocks; and rollbacks. He especially appreciates knowing when backups and restores happen. "It's great getting in the office in the morning and having an email that tells me exactly when my databases were backed up the night before," he says.
But one feature stands out as Watson's favorite. "The best feature that I have found is the ability to roll back deleted transactions from within the GUI in a live, operational database. Unfortunately, I've had to use this feature a few times. But it's great because I might have a user who says, 'I didn't delete the data. It was joe schmo who did it.' I have proof of which user performed the delete right there in the GUI of Log Explorer."
Now that Watson has Log Explorer and uses it every day, he says he's been able to spend more time concentrating on developing and improving other systems and databases such as his corporate data warehouse. Plus, he says that Log Explorer "gives me peace of mind knowing that I can recover from a transaction log any data I need from any given point in time. This means that when I do get out for a ski, I don't worry about what my servers and databases are doing, and I can concentrate on the more important things. Like improving my skiing and enjoying being out of the office."
Perisher Valley, New South Wales, Australia
Log Explorer for SQL Server