Use Powershell to Send Email Notification for SQL Server Cluster Failover

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We generally find out that a SQL Server Cluster has failed over to another node in the cluster after the fact when looking at logs for some other reason. This tip will look at using PowerShell to send out an email notification when a failover occurs.


There are many different methods we could use to find out that a SQL Server Cluster has failed over. Since the process of failover is really just the windows SQL Service stopping on one node and starting on another we could check the windows event log. Alternatively we could scan the SQL Error Log for these actions. Since we are using PowerShell for this tip and with this comes an easy way to generate the windows cluster log, let's use this log file to check for any SQL Server Cluster failovers. When writing any PowerShell scripts I usually like to write each command individually to make sure they run successfully before putting them together. This process makes troubleshooting a little easier as anyone who has done anything in PowerShell before knows that even single commands can get pretty complicated.

In order to generate this notification we'll need to write something to perform the following four tasks:

  1. Generate the Windows Cluster log
  2. Scan the Cluster log file for a SQL Cluster failover
  3. Send an email alert noting the SQL Cluster failover
  4. Schedule the PowerShell script

Step 1. Generate the Windows Cluster log

Before we can use any of the Failover Cluster cmdlets we need to import the FailoverClusters module into our PowerShell session. To do this we can run the following command.

Import-Module FailoverClusters

Once the FailoverClusters module is loaded, all we need to do to generate the cluster log file is to run the Get-ClusterLog cmdlet. One thing to note is most PowerShell commands do not need to be run from the local machine and can be called from another machine by specifying the node/computername parameter if required. For this tip we will assume that all commands are running on the local machine however we will include the node parameter so it could be run from any machine in your domain without modification.

The below example will output the cluster log file in the C:\SQL directory for the last 24 hours.

Get-ClusterLog -Node SQLTEST1 -Cluster SQLTESTCLUST -Destination C:\SQL -TimeSpan 1440

After running the above command you should see the following file in your C:\SQL directory.

Cluster Log File

Step 2. Scan the Cluster log file for a SQL Cluster failover

Next we have to scan this log file looking for a failover. The easiest way I've found to do this is to search the file for the "OnlinePending-->Online" message for your SQL cluster resource. We can accomplish this by reading in the cluster log file using the Get-Content cmdlet and then pipe this through the Select-String cmdlet searching for this pattern. You can see the complete command below as well as a sample output. Note that we've added another pipe to Out-String. This is so we can use this output as the body of our email in the next step.

Get-Content -Path C:\SQL\SQLTEST1_cluster.log | 
       Select-String -Pattern "SQL Server(.)*OnlinePending`-`->Online" |

000016ec.00001a54::2013/12/23-18:08:42.809 INFO
        [RCM] TransitionToState(SQL Server (INST1)) OnlinePending-->Online.
000016ec.00000d74::2013/12/23-18:08:43.436 INFO
        [RCM] TransitionToState(SQL Server Agent (INST1)) OnlinePending-->Online.

Step 3. Send email alert noting the SQL Cluster failover

All that's left to do now is send the email notification. In order to do this we will first store the result of the command above into a variable and test if this variable is empty. If it does in fact contain data then we send out an email using the Send-MailMessage cmdlet with the details that we pulled from the cluster log file. Below is the command to send the email. Note: The "`" character tells PowerShell the command continues onto the next line.

if ($message) { 
  Send-MailMessage -To "[email protected]" -Subject "Cluster Failover Alert - SQLTEST1" `
                   -From "[email protected]" -Body $message `
                   -SmtpServer ""

Complete PowerShell script

Putting all of the above steps together we now have our completed script which we can deploy to our cluster. One thing to note with the completed script is I've added some variables for the Send-MailMessage parameters so the email can be configured a little bit easier. I also added a step at the very end of the script to delete the log file that we created.

Step 4. Schedule the PowerShell script

The last thing we need to do is schedule our script which we will do using "Task Scheduler". Since my PowerShell command retrieves the last 24 hours of log data from the cluster log file I will schedule my task to run every 24 hours. This can be changed to suit your needs and you could run it every 10 minutes if that's what is required. After starting Task Scheduler from the Administrative Tools menu select "Create Task" and fill out the tabs as follows.

General tab...

General Tab

Switch to the Triggers tab and click "New".

New Trigger Tab

Switch to the Actions tab and click "New".

New Action Tab

Once done we simply click "OK" to create the task. Note: You will have to input the password for the account you have configured to run this task.

Other Notes

In my case the above script was enough to test for failover as I know which machine an instance should be running on so when I see it come online on another node I know it's failed over. If your environment does not have a convention similar to this you may also want to add another job which alerts you when an instance goes offline so you're able to distinguish failovers from simple restarts. To do this you would use the same commands but search for the string "OfflineSavingCheckpoints-->Offline". I prefer to see all restarts as I like to know when my SQL instances have gone offline, whatever the reason.

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Ben Snaidero Ben Snaidero has been a SQL Server and Oracle DBA for over 10 years and focuses on performance tuning.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

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Comments For This Article

Monday, May 5, 2014 - 5:28:36 PM - Andrew Nakamura Back To Top (30614)

Yes, but it got me thinking about not only cluster events but all errors in windows logs.  I used this as a basis for an example to loop through all my SQL Servers pull all the event errors and email like a mini SCCM for SQL and then poll it every x minutes.  This way I can stay on top of those crazy I/O error that sometimes correlate why my log backups fail!



Monday, April 21, 2014 - 1:24:56 PM - jeff_yao Back To Top (30355)

The best way is indeed (as mentioned by all others) is to use pure t-sql in a start-up procedure, so whenever a failover happens, dbas can get real-time alerts. With this powershell solution, you only get the alert when the schedule task runs, and if the failover happens a few times during the day, the start-up procedure solution will report each failover event while the current powershell solution will not. PowerShell is best used when t-sql cannot or is difficult to solve the problem.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 10:00:54 AM - Bill Back To Top (29504)

yet another way is to create a SQL agent job which runs on start-up. It just sends an email saying the cluster has failed over.

Friday, January 17, 2014 - 12:22:42 AM - Graham Okely Back To Top (28110)

Nice tip Ben.

Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 2:33:50 PM - Edward Pochinski Back To Top (28106)

And yet another way to skin a cat, seems mine has left my office for now...He usually sits next to me...It opens doors maybe it can read now, har har...


Another way I found long ago was this old DOS utility called findstr that can seach txt file for strings when we had to alarm off of a .eml file for a disk subsystem in a unmanned data center and decided to use T-SQL to do it..

Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 2:22:22 PM - Edward Pochinski Back To Top (28105)

I love powershell but sometimes things are easier with basic T-SQL code. This is a pretty simple script that will detect if your sql instance is not on the right node and you can add a simp[le DbMail block of code or use custom code to send an email or page your cell.

Create proc sp_dba_checkclusterbalance
Declare @srvname varchar(55)
select @srvname = Convert(varchar,SERVERPROPERTY('ComputerNamePhysicalNetBIOS'))
--Print @srvname
if @srvname = 'DefaultPhyNodeNamehere'
    Print 'All is good'
    Print 'Cluster not balanced on ' +@srvname
    Print 'Pager Code goes below here'

Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 1:01:58 PM - MST Back To Top (28103)

As you said-- there are lots of ways to skin this cat. Consider using SP_PROCOPTION to create an "autoexec" stored procedure in the MASTER db that gets executed each time the SQL instance restarts.

Send the email from the SP. I have this set up on all my SQL boxes-- and use the values below to tell me the name of the server instance, whether it's a cluster-- and if it IS, I list the nodes and indicate which is the active node this instance is running on.




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