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Tip: Play it Safe and Configure a Fail-Safe Operator

When things go wrong with SQL Server notifications, operators are not notified and problems might not be corrected in a timely manner. As a precaution, you might want to designate a fail-safe operator. A fail-safe operator is notified when a SQL Server Agent cannot access system tables in the msdb database (which is where operator definitions and notification lists are stored), when all pager notifications to designated operators have failed, or when the designated operators are off duty (as defined in the pager schedule).

To configure a fail-safe operator, complete the following steps:
  1. Right-click the SQL Server Agent entry in SQL Server Management Studio, and then select Properties.
  2. In the Properties dialog box, select the Alert System page.
  3. Select the Enable Fail-Safe Operator check box.
  4. Use the Operator list to choose an operator to designate as the fail-safe operator. You can reassign the fail-safe duty by selecting a different operator, or you can disable the feature by clearing the Enable Fail-Safe Operator check box.
  5. Use the Notify Using check boxes to determine how the fail-safe operator is notified.
  6. Click OK.
Using the fail-safe operator for pager notification failure might seem strange, but it is a good way to ensure that alerts are handled efficiently. E-mail and Net Send messages almost always reach their destination—but the people involved are not always watching their e-mail or sitting at their computer to receive Net Send messages, so the fail-safe operator is a way to guarantee notification.

From the Microsoft Press book Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant, Second Edition by William R. Stanek.

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