It's patching time for SQL Server DBAs everywhere! SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 4 (SP4) should be considered an essential update for SQL Server 2000 and Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) systems. SP4 incorporates the most recent set of database and security updates for SQL Server 2000 and has several changes that extend SQL Server 2000's functionality. SP4 isn't compatible with systems that have more than 2.8GB of memory configured to use Address Windowing Extensions (AWE), so you'll need the hotfix if you're using AWE. Here are six important updates that SQL Server 2000 SP4 includes.

6.

Cumulative Fixes
SQL Server 2000 SP4 delivers the latest updates to your installed product base. SP4 contains all the database updates that previous service packs included as well as new fixes and updates for compatibility with the upcoming SQL Server 2005 release. You can apply SP4 to SQL Server 2000 systems that you haven't yet updated with previous service packs.

5.

Visual Database Tools
SQL Server 2000 introduced Visual Database Tools, including a graphical table designer, a database-diagramming tool, and an interactive query designer. SQL Server 2000 originally used Visual Studio 98's Visual Database Tools, but SP4 updates the tools to the Visual Studio .NET 2003 version.

4.

MSXML 3.0 SP6
SP4 includes Microsoft XML Core Services (MSXML) 3.0 SP6. SP4 updates MSXML's OPENXML statement to let it support custom-built XML parsing technology. MSXML 3.0 SP6 is backward compatible with MSXML 2.6.

3.

MDAC 2.8 SP1
Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) 2.8 SP1 is now distributed with Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003 SP1. You don't need MDAC 2.8 SP1 to connect to SQL Server 2000 SP4, but it's a recommended install for clients because it has the latest client-side updates.

2.

Ability to Remove Hotfixes
A serviceability-related enhancement in SP4 is the ability to remove any hotfixes you apply after SP4. To support this ability, SQL Server 2000 SP4 must be running on Windows Server 2003 (or the SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition, which provides this support in Windows XP).

1.

New x64 Support
SP4 lets the 32-bit SQL Server 2000 editions run on the 64-bit Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition under the WOW64 subsystem. The x64 platform fully supports both the database engine and the administrative tools. Note that this new 64-bit support is limited to x64 systems and doesn't apply to Itanium-based IA-64 systems. Itanium systems must run SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition (64-bit).

Lean more from "SQL Server 2005 SP4: What You Need to Know."