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Michelle Taylor is a Product Manager with Red Gate Software, primarily responsible for ‘SQL Compare and all its little friends’ – including SQL Data Compare, SQL Dependency Tracker, SQL Doc, and SQL Data Generator. In her spare time she helps run large fantasy LARP events for Profound Decisions, writes terrible fanfiction, and still somehow manages to waste vast swathes of time playing computer games.

Compare those hard-to-reach servers with SQL Snapper

Published 21 July 2014 10:03 am

If you’ve got an environment which is at the end of an unreliable or slow network connection, or isn’t connected to your network at all, and you want to do a deployment to that environment – then pointing SQL Compare at it directly is difficult or impossible.

While you could run SQL Compare locally on that environment, if it’s a server – especially if it’s a locked-down server – you probably don’t want to go through the hassle of using another activation on it. Or possibly you’re not allowed to install software at all, because you don’t have admin rights – but you can run user-mode software.

SQL Snapper is a standalone, licensing-free program which takes SQL Compare snapshots of a database. It can create a snapshot within the context of that environment which can then be moved to your working environment to run SQL Compare against, allowing you to create a deployment script for environments you can’t get SQL Compare into.

Where can I find it?

You can find RedGate.SQLSnapper.exe in your SQL Compare installation directory – if you haven’t changed it, that will be something like C:\Program Files (x86)\Red Gate\SQL Compare 10 (or 11 if you’re using our SQL Server 2014 support beta).

As well as copying the executable, you’ll also currently need to copy the System.Threading.dll and RedGate.SOCCompareInterface.dll files from the same directory alongside it.

How do I use it?

SQL Snapper’s UI is just a cut-down version of the snapshot creation UI in SQL Compare – just fill in the boxes and create your snapshot, then bring it back to the place you use SQL Compare to compare against your difficult-to-reach environment.

SQL Snapper also has a command-line mode if you can’t run the UI in your target environment – just specify the server, database and output location with the /server, /database and /mksnap arguments, and optionally the username and password if you’re using SQL security, e.g.:

RedGate.SQLSnapper.exe /database:yourdatabase /server:yourservername /username:youruser /password:yourpassword /mksnap:filename.snp

What’s the catch?

There are a few limitations of SQL Snapper in its current form – notably, it can’t read encrypted objects, and you’ll also currently need to copy the System.Threading.dll and RedGate.SOCCompareInterface.dll files alongside it, which we recognise is a little awkward in some environments.

If you use SQL Snapper and want to share your experiences, or help us work on improving the experience in future, please comment here or leave a request on the SQL Compare UserVoice at https://redgate.uservoice.com/forums/141379-sql-compare.

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