I figured I would try to start the year out right by catching up on my updates.  The first on my list is to install SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 on my servers.  I know, I should have installed them a month ago.  Installing an update late is better than not installing it at all!

In this article, we will go over the benefits of installing SP2.  Why should we install SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2?  What did they add?  What did they fix?  What difference does it make?

Once we are satisfied that we should install SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2, we will learn how.  In part 2, we will go over the installation of SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2.  This part will cover the basic installation.  It is all you need if you have a standalone SQL Server.  If you have a SQL Cluster, you will have to wait until part 3.  Part 3 will build on the basic installation of SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2.  It will discuss the process to install SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 on a cluster.  This will include instructions to allow you to keep your servers online during the installation.

Why Install SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2?

There are lots of reasons to install SP2 on your servers.  I will cover security, bug fixes, and new features.  Overall, SP2 seems to be a solid update.  It wasn’t too painful to install.  It’s definitely worth to time to take care of it before there’s a problem.

Install SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 for Security

As normal, the service pack includes all the previous patches.  This includes and security updates that you may have missed to this point.  The service pack also includes new bug fixes and features.  If you don’t install the latest patches, you are just leaving security holes wide open.

Install SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 for Bug Fixes

Installing the latest service pack will fix known issues with SQL Server.  My favorite fix addressed in SP2 is this one:

You may receive incorrect results when you run a complex query that contains aggregates functions, join functions, and distinct functions in subqueries

I mean really? It’s always nice when your complex calculations return the wrong result, right? I think this fix alone justifies the update. If you’re still not convinced, check out the full list of the bugs that are fixed in SQL Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 2.

Install SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 for New Features

Sometimes we don’t have to wait until we upgrade to the latest version to get the cool new features.  By installing the latest service packs, we can get new features.  The highlight for me is that reporting services charts may be zoomed and cropped.  I haven’t tried it out yet, but I hope to get a chance soon.  Some other new features can be found at the SQL Team Blog.

That’s all I’ve got.  It’s a good idea to install service packs.  Of course you should test them in development first.  If they work, put them in production at your next maintenance window.  Hopefully I will have part 2 out next week and part 3 will likely be published the week after.