Filter a Trace

Filters limit the events collected in a trace. If a filter is not set, all events of the selected event classes are returned in the trace output. For example, limiting the Windows user names in a trace to specific users reduces the output data to those users only.

It is not mandatory to set a filter for a trace. However, a filter minimizes the overhead that is incurred during a trace. A filter returns focused data and thus makes performance analysis and audits easier.

To filter the event data captured within a trace, select trace event criteria that return only relevant data from the trace. For example, you can include or exclude monitoring the activity of a specific application from the trace.

Note

When SQL Server Profiler creates traces, it filters out its own activity by default.

As an additional example, if you monitor queries to determine the batches that take the longest time to execute, set the trace event criteria to monitor only those batches that take longer than 30 seconds to execute (a CPU minimum value of 30,000 milliseconds).

Filter Creation Guidelines

In general, follow these steps to filter a trace.

  1. Identify the events that you want to include in the trace.

  2. Identify the data and data columns that contain the information you need.

  3. Identify a subset of the data you need and define filters based on that subset of data.

    For example, you may be interested only in events that take longer than a certain length of time. You could create a trace that includes events where the Duration data column is greater than 300 milliseconds. Your trace will not include events that finish in less than 300 milliseconds.

    You can create filters by using SQL Server Profiler or Transact-SQL stored procedures.

    To filter events in a trace template

    Filter Events in a Trace (SQL Server Profiler)

    Set a Trace Filter (Transact-SQL)

    To modify filters

    Modify a Filter (SQL Server Profiler)

    Filter availability depends on the data column. Some data columns cannot be filtered. The data columns that can be filtered are filterable only by certain relational operators, as shown in the following table.

Relational operator Operator symbol Description
Like LIKE Specifies that the trace event data must be like the text entered. Allows multiple values.
Not like NOT LIKE Specifies that the trace event data must not be like the text entered. Allows multiple values.
Equals = Specifies that the trace event data must equal the value entered. Allows multiple values.
Not equal to <> Specifies that the trace event data must not equal the value entered. Allows multiple values.
Greater than > Specifies that the trace event data must be greater than the value entered.
Greater than or equal to >= Specifies that the trace event data must be greater than or equal to the value entered.
Less than < Specifies that the trace event data must be less than the value entered.
Less than or equal to <= Specifies that the trace event data must be less than or equal to the value entered.

The following table lists the filterable data columns and the available relational operators.

Data columns Relational operators
ApplicationName LIKE, NOT LIKE
BigintData1 =, <>, >=, <=
BigintData2 =, <>, >=, <=
BinaryData Use SQL Server Profiler to filter events in this data column. For more information, see Filter Traces with SQL Server Profiler.
ClientProcessID =, <>, >=, <=
ColumnPermissions =, <>, >=, <=
CPU =, <>, >=, <=
DatabaseID =, <>, >=, <=
DatabaseName LIKE, NOT LIKE
DBUserName LIKE, NOT LIKE
Duration =, <>, >=, <=
EndTime >=, <=
Error =, <>, >=, <=
EventSubClass =, <>, >=, <=
FileName LIKE, NOT LIKE
GUID Use SQL Server Profiler to filter events in this data column. For more information, see Filter Traces with SQL Server Profiler.
Handle =, <>, >=, <=
HostName LIKE, NOT LIKE
IndexID =, <>, >=, <=
IntegerData =, <>, >=, <=
IntegerData2 =, <>, >=, <=
IsSystem =, <>, >=, <=
LineNumber =, <>, >=, <=
LinkedServerName LIKE, NOT LIKE
LoginName LIKE, NOT LIKE
LoginSid Use SQL Server Profiler to filter events in this data column. For more information, see Filter Traces with SQL Server Profiler.
MethodName LIKE, NOT LIKE
Mode =, <>, >=, <=
NestLevel =, <>, >=, <=
NTDomainName LIKE, NOT LIKE
NTUserName LIKE, NOT LIKE
ObjectID =, <>, >=, <=
ObjectID2 =, <>, >=, <=
ObjectName LIKE, NOT LIKE
ObjectType =, <>, >=, <=
Offset =, <>, >=, <=
OwnerID =, <>, >=, <=
OwnerName LIKE, NOT LIKE
ParentName LIKE, NOT LIKE
Permissions =, <>, >=, <=
ProviderName LIKE, NOT LIKE
Reads =, <>, >=, <=
RequestID =, <>, >=, <=
RoleName LIKE, NOT LIKE
RowCounts =, <>, >=, <=
SessionLoginName LIKE, NOT LIKE
Severity =, <>, >=, <=
SourceDatabaseID =, <>, >=, <=
SPID =, <>, >=, <=
SqlHandle Use SQL Server Profiler to filter events in this data column. For more information, see Filter Traces with SQL Server Profiler.
StartTime >=, <=
State =, <>, >=, <=
Success =, <>, >=, <=
TargetLoginName LIKE, NOT LIKE
TargetLoginSid Use SQL Server Profiler to filter events in this data column. For more information, see Filter Traces with SQL Server Profiler.
TargetUserName LIKE, NOT LIKE
TextData * LIKE, NOT LIKE
TransactionID =, <>, >=, <=
Type =, <>, >=, <=
Writes =, <>, >=, <=
XactSequence =, <>, >=, <=

* If tracing events from the osql utility or the sqlcmd utility, always append % to filters on the TextData data column.

As a security precaution, SQL Trace automatically omits from the trace any information from security-related stored procedures that affect passwords. This security mechanism is nonconfigurable and is always in effect. It prevents users, who otherwise have permissions to trace all activity on SQL Server, from capturing passwords.

The following security-related stored procedures are monitored, but no output is written to the TextData data column:

sp_addapprole (Transact-SQL)

sp_adddistpublisher (Transact-SQL)

sp_adddistributiondb (Transact-SQL)

sp_adddistributor (Transact-SQL)

sp_addlinkedserver (Transact-SQL)

sp_addlinkedsrvlogin (Transact-SQL)

sp_addlogin (Transact-SQL)

sp_addmergepullsubscription_agent (Transact-SQL)

sp_addpullsubscription_agent (Transact-SQL)

sp_addremotelogin (Transact-SQL)

sp_addsubscriber (Transact-SQL)

sp_approlepassword (Transact-SQL)

sp_changedistpublisher (Transact-SQL)

sp_changesubscriber (Transact-SQL)

sp_dsninfo (Transact-SQL)

sp_helpsubscription_properties (Transact-SQL)

sp_link_publication (Transact-SQL)

sp_password (Transact-SQL)

sp_setapprole (Transact-SQL)