Microsoft provides some useful tools that can help you manage your Microsoft SQL Server installations. One important tool is the Microsoft SQL Server Best Practices Analyzer, which you can download for free at the Microsoft Download Center (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/search.aspx). The Best Practices Analyzer checks for more than 70 best management practices for SQL Server 2000, including backup and recovery environment, server-configuration options, database design, and even SQL Server 2005 readiness. You can also use this tool to construct your own best-practices definitions.

Another important tool that all SQL Server administrators should use regularly is the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer, also available at the Microsoft Download Center. This tool checks many Microsoft products—including Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000 Server, Windows NT, Microsoft Internet Information Services 5.0 and Microsoft Internet Information Server 4.0, Microsoft Office, SQL Server 2000, and SQL Server 7.0—for security exposures.

Another SQL tool that isn't strictly a management tool but will undoubtedly be the best friend of every new SQL Server administrator is SQL Server Books Online (BOL). BOL is decidedly more useful than the help that comes with most other Microsoft products. You start BOL by selecting Start, Programs, Microsoft SQL Server, Books On-line. BOL is a great way to learn more about T-SQL. One of its most useful features is that it lists both the SQL Enterprise Manager and T-SQL methods for performing most SQL Server administrative tasks. It's also full of practical advice and Microsoft best-practice information to help you manage your server. When you have problems or questions, BOL should be your first stop.