How to Tell When SQL Server Started?


As a consultant, I’m regularly asked to diagnose and solve problems when I have incomplete or conflicting information given to me by the client. They don’t mean any harm, but different people in the organization have different perspectives and different memories. Sometimes it is difficult to know what is really happening.

When I’m working with systems like SQL Server, it is always good to gather as much information from the system itself as I can and not rely too heavily on someone else’s memory. Trust but verify as President Ronald Reagan once said.

When was the server restarted?

SQL Server maintains a lot of information about how it’s doing and when certain events ocurred. Much of this information resides in the Dynamic Management Views (DMVs) of SQL Server 2005 and 2008.

For example, let’s say we want to know when the SQL Server instance was last restarted. When can easily collect this information using a quick query. There are several other methods as well but this one is my preferred way.

Session_Id = 1;


Additional Resources

SQL Server Books Online has more information about this and other DMVs. Additionally there are some other great resources on the web.

And there are many, many more. Just use your favorite search engine and begin using the DMVs to make your job a little easier.


  • What’s your favorite DMV?

13 Responses to How to Tell When SQL Server Started?

  1. Glenn Berry says:

    I also like this query:

    SELECT sqlserver_start_time FROM sys.dm_os_sys_info;

    It only works on SQL Server 2008 or above.

  2. Sankar Reddy says:

    I have been using this query. Almost the same time.
    SELECT create_date from sys.databases where name = ‘tempdb’

  3. Joe says:

    Hi Sankar – Yes, I like that one as well since tempdb is recreated each time the service starts.

  4. Joe says:

    Thanks for sharing the new one, Glenn! I’ve got some catching up to do on my blog reading, but the ones I’ve read from your DMV series have been great.

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  6. Jack Corbett says:

    On 2005/2008 you can also do

    is_default = 1

  7. Sankar Reddy says:


    Its a neat trick but what happens if the default trace is disabled? I am NOT recommending to disable default trace but being on the forums there are quite a few ppl who disable the default trace.

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