How To Simplify Database Snapshots Creation in SQL Server

Database Snapshots is a powerful feature that can be used for quick reverts of the database to the state as it was in when a given database snapshot was created, as well as data and schema comparison between a source database and a snapshot.

While this feature was shipped in SQL Server 2005 it was available only in the enterprise edition. In release SQL Server 2016 SP1 Microsoft made a generous step and unlocked plenty of such enterprise-grade features. Since that snapshots become ready to use in all editions, including Express.

Warning: Database snapshots are dependent on the source database. Therefore, database snapshots are not to substitute your primary backup and restore strategy. Performing all your scheduled backups remains essential.

Problem and solution

While this feature has a clear T-SQL syntax SSMS has no wizard or GUI for it, so creation of multiple snapshots requires some tedious coding like:

CREATE DATABASE [AdventureWorks2016_snapshot] 
ON (
    NAME = [AdventureWorks2016_Data]
,   FILENAME ='H:\SQL_Data\Data\AdventureWorks2016_Data.mdf.snapshot'
AS SNAPSHOT OF [AdventureWorks2016];

Because of absence of UI and other helpers I created a stored procedure [dbo].[uspCreateSnapshot].

This procedure has the following parameters:

ParameterDescriptionTypeDefault Value
@SourceDBSearchPatternDetermines a list of databases to process, it uses LIKE pattern seach. When value set to All then all user databases selectedsysname‘all’
@SnashotSuffixSnapshot name suffix, the full snapshot name will have a value: databasename_suffixnamesysname‘snapshot’
@DropIfExistsRemove old snapshot on the same source database if snapshot name is also the samebit0
@DebugPrints output as SQL Script, but does not execute itbit0


The source code can be retrieved from the GitHub repository github/avolok/scripts or by direct download: [dbo].[uspCreateSnapshot].


A. Creating a snapshot on a single database

This example creates a snapshot of a single database using default values.

EXEC [dbo].[uspCreateSnapshot] 'AdventureWorks2016'

It will create a snapshot with name AdventureWorks2016_snapshot . If such a snapshot already exists the procedure will results to an information message:

-- Processing database: [AdventureWorks2016]
-- Snapshot [AdventureWorks2016_Snapshot] already created on database [AdventureWorks2016], nothing more to do

B. Creating snapshots on multiple databases selected by a search pattern

This example creates a snapshot of every database that matches Name LIKE 'DBName0%'

EXEC [dbo].[uspCreateSnapshot] @SourceDBSearchPattern = 'DBName0%', 
                               @SnashotSuffix = 'ss',
                               @DropIfExists = 1                

Because @SnapshotSuffix is set to 'ss' snapshots will be named as databasename_ss. If snapshot with such name already exists, it will be dropped firstly and a new one will be created

C. Generating T-SQL for snapshot creation

This example generates T-SQL script for snapshots creation, however, it does not execute it.

EXEC [dbo].[uspCreateSnapshot] @SourceDBSearchPattern = 'AdventureWorks2016',
                               @Debug = 1                                

Results to output:

-- Processing database: [AdventureWorks2016]

-- Executing SQL:
CREATE DATABASE [AdventureWorks2016_Snapshot] 
ON (
    NAME = [AdventureWorks2016_Data], 
    FILENAME ='H:\SQL_Data\Data\AdventureWorks2016_Data.mdf.Snapshot'
AS SNAPSHOT OF [AdventureWorks2016];	

Such option can be useful for a generation of the code that has to be validated or reused