Debugging without debugger: investigating SQL Server’s internal structures

This page contains the description for my conference session “Debugging without debugger: investigating SQL Server’s internal structures”, links to the slide deck and demo code used in this presentation, and links to recordings of past deliveries.


Target audience Experienced database developers and DBAs, plus all curious geeks.
Short description A fast paced overview of tricks and methods that can be used to peek into internals of SQL Server, without having to use a debugger tool.
Duration The ideal length for this session is 60 minutes.
Full abstract Have you ever wanted to know exactly how SQL Server stores data for temporary structures, such as for instance the spooled data in a Table Spool or Index Spool operator? No? I don’t blame you. It’s a bit like wanting to know who watered the rubber tree that produced the rubber your tires are made off before you get in the car to drive to work. You really don’t need it.
But you might still WANT to know. I did. And I figured it out.
Without ever touching the debugger (I’m a simple soul, that stuff is much too complex for me!), I figured out how I could look at the exact storage structures SQL Server creates and uses to store data in Table Spool and Index Spool operators.
If you are willing to commit to a fast-paced and deep internals session that is guaranteed to teach you exactly zero actually useful information, then this is the session for you.


Click here to download a ZIP file containing the slide deck and demo code used in this presentation.

(Note: my presentations tend to evolve over time, so the slide deck, demo code, and recording linked here may be different from what you saw in a live delivery; and future live deliveries might improve further).


Not able to attend a conference and still interested in this session? No worries, you can watch the recording on YouTube!

  1. My own recording, from 2021 (with captions)
  2. Recording of EightKB delivery, from 2023 (auto-generated captions)

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