Pillars of PowerShell: SQL Server – Part 2

Posted in: Microsoft SQL Server, Technical Track


This is the seventh and final post in the series on the Pillars of PowerShell. The previous posts in the series are:

  1. Interacting
  2. Commanding
  3. Debugging
  4. Profiling
  5. Windows OS
  6. SQL Server – Part 1

In this final post I am going to touch on SQL Server Management Objects (SMO) with PowerShell. SMO is one of the most widely used methods, and offers the most versatile way of working with SQL Server to me. It can be a bit tedious to work with being that you are going to be using raw .NET objects now instead of cmdlets, but offers so much more compared to SQLPS. In this post I am just going to touch on the basics of loading SMO, and how you can connect to an instance of SQL Server (or multiple). I am going to end it showing you a function I published a few years ago and use fairly frequently to this day.

Loading SMO

As with SQLPS, you have to load SMO into your PowerShell session before you can utilize it. SMO is what is referred to as an “assembly”, basically a collection of types and other objects that form a logical unit of functionality for interacting with various parts of SQL Server. SQL Server 2012 and above you can import the SQLPS module and it will automatically import the associated version of SMO. However, being that SQLPS is loading in more than just SMO it can take time for that to complete before your script will continue. In that regard, it can shave off some time by just loading SMO directly without all the overhead of the SQLPS module. You will commonly see the following line of code used to load SMO into your session:



Generally this command is going to load the highest version registered in the GAC on your machine. In the screenshot you may see the version is “13.0.0”, this is from SQL Server Management Studio preview (July 2015) that is installed on my machine. Now with PowerShell things change over time and using LoadWithPartialName is actually the version 1 method of loading SMO. This method is actually no longer supported, but still works for now. In PowerShell 2.0 a cmdlet was added to do this for you called, Add-Type. If you were to just type in Add-Type ‘Microsoft.SqlServer.Smo’ when you have multiple versions, your are going to get an error similar to this:


In this situation you have to specify the assembly you want to load, so there is a bit more to doing this with SMO. You can load an assembly by specifying the file itself or by the assembly name along with 4 bits of information:

  1. Name
  2. Version
  3. Culture
  4. PublicKeyToken

To date, Microsoft always uses the same Culture and PublicKeyToken on almost all of their assemblies that come out of Redmond. So the only thing lacking is the version, which is going to be in the format of a 4-part version number, If you have worked with SQL Server and you are familiar with the build numbers, you simply need to know that “10” is SQL Server 2008, “11” is SQL Server 2012, “12” is SQL Server 2014, and “13” is going to be SQL Server 2016. So, if I want to load the SQL Server 2012 SMO into my session I simply use this command:

Add-Type -AssemblyName "Microsoft.SqlServer.Smo, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=89845dcd8080cc91"

The first connection…

To connect to a single instance of SQL Server with Windows Authentication you can use the following:

$srvObject = New-Object Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.Server "MyServer"

Once you hit enter, it will make a connection to your instance and then the variable $srvObject will contain properties and methods that you can use to manipulate the server-level objects of your instance. If you recall from the previous pillars in this series, this is where Get-Member comes in real handy for exploring. As an example let’s say you wanted to get similar information to what SELECT @@VERSION returns in T-SQL. You simply need to know the properties that hold this information and pipe the object to select:

$srvObject | select Product, VersionString, Edition, OSVersion

In PowerShell it is good to start out with the mindset “if I write it for one server, might as well write it to handle multiple”. What I mean by this is you get to the point of developing a script into a tool. If I wanted to turn the above bit of code into something I can reuse, and run for one instance or 50 instances it just takes a bit of work and you are there before you know it:

function Get-SqlVersion {
 param (
 $allServers = @()
 $props = @{ServerName="";Product="";Version="";Edition="";OSVersion=""}
 foreach ($s in $server) {
 $srvObject = New-Object Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.Server $s
 $cserver = New-Object psobject -Property $props
 $cserver.ServerName = $s
 $cserver.Product = $srvObject.Product
 $cserver.Version = $srvObject.VersionString
 $cserver.Edition = $srvObject.Edition
 $cserver.OSversion = $srvObject.OSVersion
 $allServers += $cserver

Now, don’t let this scare you as it may look more complicated than it seems. You could just put two lines inside the foreach loop that create your server object and then just select the properties, then you are done. It is best though when you start to write functions that the output of your function is an object. So that is the only additional step I take using New-Object psobject to create a PowerShell object with the properties ServerName, Product, Version, Edition, and OSVersion. In the event you expand on this function in the future, and wanted to pipe this output to another cmdlet or custom bit of code it will be in a more formal object type for you to work against.

Golden Nugget

One of the things I got annoyed with fairly quickly when troubleshooting an instance of SQL Server was having to search through the error log(s). You could be dealing with the default of 6 logs for an instance or up to 99 of them. Now there is some T-SQL code out there of people iterating through each log for you, but I just prefer to use PowerShell. I published this code on my personal blog back in December of 2014. You can find the write-up and code here: Search-SqlErrorLog. It will be good practice for you to try and understand it on your own, but I include help information just in case.

This is one of the few times I wrote a function that only works with one server at a time. You can do some one-liner tricks with the pipeline to easily call it for multiple servers:

"server1","server2" | foreach {Search-SqlErrorLog -server $_ -all -value "^backup"}

The output of this function provides the number of the log it was found in, the date, the process (if noted in the log), and the text found matching the value you provided (which can accept regex expressions, the “^” means the start of the string):


The End

I hope you learned something new in this series on PowerShell, and good scripting to you all.



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About the Author

Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP, Shawn has a knack for automating mundane task where IT staff can focus on more business critical issues and task. He has been recognized for his skills in PowerShell and has a broad knowledge of technology around Microsoft's Data Platform and various Cloud providers.

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