SQL Server 2014 SP3 Released

SQL Server 2014 Service Pack 3 (SP3) was announced on Wednesday, about two years after the release of SP2.

SP3 is a cumulative update, which means that it'll upgrade "all editions and service levels of SQL Server 2014 to SQL Server 2014 SP3," Microsoft's support article explained. It brings new capabilities to Microsoft's relational database management system, including "performance, scalability and diagnostics" improvements, according to Microsoft's announcement. SP3 contains all past SQL Server 2014 hotfixes, as well.

Microsoft's announcement described a number of improvements brought by SP3. It's a long list, but here's the short version:

  • An improved distribution database cleanup procedure.
  • Improved performance for "change tracking cleanup."
  • Improved query handling based on CPU thresholds.
  • T-SQL syntax support for loading tables other than the "default filegroup."
  • Backup performance improvements for small to medium databases on large-memory machines.
  • Database restore improvements for compressed "4K-sector volumes."

There were other improvements, including Dynamic Management Views (DMV) additions. DMVs show server diagnostic information. For instance, there's a new view to help administrators plan "TempDB sizing" per database version storage requirements. Microsoft also added two new DMVs for monitoring transaction log information.

IT pros may be cheered by getting full dumps (instead of mini-dumps) when "replication agents encounter an unhandled exception." Microsoft is also promising that SP3 will enable the "proper handling of Service Broker" when there's an Availability Group failover as all open connections will now get closed with SP3.

Microsoft's announcement also gave notice that a new Feature Pack for SQL Server 2014 SP3 is expected to arrive sometime in "mid-November 2018." A Feature Pack is a "standalone package" that adds value to the server, according to Microsoft.  

If SP3 is installed, Microsoft advises against later uninstalling it, as there can be problems if the new features that were initially unlocked by SP3 get accessed. Here's how Microsoft's support article expressed the matter:

If you are running the Standard, Web, or Express edition of SQL Server, and you are using some new features that are unlocked only when you start SQL Server 2014 SP3, you might experience errors or see databases left in a suspect state after the uninstallation of SQL Server 2014 SP3. Even worse, if the system databases are using new features (for example, partitioned tables in master databases), this could prevent SQL Server instances from starting after you uninstall SQL Server 2014 SP3.

The support article included links for downloading the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of SQL Server 2014 SP3. The bits also are available from the Microsoft Download Center, the Microsoft Update Catalog, the MSDN download page, the Evaluation Center page, the Volume License Service Center and MBS/Partner Source, Microsoft's announcement indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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