During the past year, I've run across many useful free tools. Here are my seven favorite free SQL Server utilities. Although vendors sometimes change the availability of free tools, when I wrote this column, all the utilities listed were freeware without time bombs.

7. SQLXML 3.0


Many SQL Server users still haven't heard about the free SQLXML feature pack. An add-in to SQL Server 2000, SQLXML 3.0 lets you create Web services from stored procedures, process XML templates, and process XML updategrams. Download SQLXML 3.0 at http://msdn.microsoft.com/downloads/default.asp by selecting .NET Enterprise Servers, SQL Server Development, then SQL Server 2000 Web Services Toolkit.

6. Component Checker


When you uncover incompatibilities in the Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) level, you can use Microsoft's Component Checker to quickly determine which MDAC version is running. Download Component Checker at http://www.microsoft.com/data/download.htm#ccinfo.

5. AdminLog


LockwoodTech Software's AdminLog is a useful bug-tracking tool to have in your project-management toolbox. The setup can be a cumbersome job, but you can use AdminLog to enter problems, assign them to projects and individuals, and track the answers. Download AdminLog at http://www.lockwoodtech.com/index_al.htm.

4. SQL Server XML View Mapper


SQL Server XML View Mapper produces XML Data Reduced (XDR) documents based on SQL Server 2000 databases. Although XML Schema Definition (XSD) has superseded XDR, the XML View Mapper is helpful for working with existing XDR documents. Find the XML View Mapper at http://msdn.microsoft.com/downloads/default.asp. Choose Data Access and Databases, Microsoft SQL Server, then SQL Server XML View Mapper 1.0.

3. Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer


The Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) checks for common security exposures and incorrect configuration settings. MBSA also recommends security best practices for SQL Server 2000 and 7.0, Microsoft IIS, Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 5.01 and later, and Microsoft Office XP and Office 2000. Download MBSA at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;q320454.

2. SmartDBA Cockpit


If you need to manage SQL Server and Oracle databases, BMC Software's SmartDBA Cockpit (formerly Web DBA) provides a management console that includes many familiar features of Enterprise Manager in a Web-browser interface. Find SmartDBA Cockpit at http://shop.bmc.com/product_moreinfo.cfm?id=2479&cpg=us00-1889ga.

1. SQLcheck


NetIQ's SQLcheck uses a graphical dashboard interface to provide a realtime overview of your SQL Server system's status. SQLcheck shows performance data such as current transaction rate, percent of processor used, average lock wait time, and buffer cache hit ratio. Find SQLcheck at http://www.netiq.com/sqlcheck/default.asp.