Warning Handling in dbatools Automation Tasks

So I’ve been using dbatools for automated restore tasks and came across a SQL Server Agent job that I wrote that was reporting success but the job was actually failing.

What I found was the function I used, Restore-DbaDatabase, was not able to access the path that I was trying to restore databases from. The Restore-DbaDatabase function, and all dbatools functions according to the dbatools team on Slack, will throw a Warning rather than an Error by design.

When scheduling PowerShell scripts using dbatools in SQL Server’s Agent, we need use the SQL Agent Subsystem CmdExec so we can load in additional modules.  So we’ll have a SQL Agent job step that looks like this.

SQL Agent Job - cmdexec


Now, you see that line “Process exit code of a successful command” and it’s set to 0, we’ll that’s the first thing that I tested. I wanted to see if the warning generated by Restore-DbaDatabase returned a non-zero value…it didn’t it returns 0.  You can check this by checking %ERRORLEVEL% when running the PowerShell script defined in this job step’s command box at the command line.  

These scripts are very small, most only do one thing…restore a database. So I want them to report failure when something goes wrong, so how can we get that warning to cause the SQL Agent job to report failure?

We have to options here

Our first option is to adjust how our session handles warnings, we can do that with 

Doing this will cause the script to stop executing when it hits the warning and then the job will report failure.  

Our next option is to use the -Silent parameter on our Restore-DbaDatabase function call. The -Silent parameter cause the warnings in our script to report as errors. 

Both of these options cause the return value of our CmdExec subsystem’s call to the powershell.exe to return 1…which will cause our Agent job to report failure. This is exactly what I want!

One other thing I tested, both of these options cause the script to stop at the point of the error. When using -Silent, the function returns what it tried to do to standard output. When using $WarningPreference I did not get that output.

Thanks to Friedrich Weinmann and Shawn Melton for helping me sort this all out!

T-SQL Tuesday

Thanks to SQL DBA with A Beard for this event – https://sqldbawithabeard.com/2017/09/05/tsql2sday-94-lets-get-all-posh/

One thought on “Warning Handling in dbatools Automation Tasks

  1. Friedrich Weinmann

    One thing to note:
    Using the -Silent parameter is the designed way to do this.
    There are commands where a warning is written by design that is not supposed to terminate the function in failure (for example when retrieving additional information). Setting the $WarningPreference to “Stop” (note the typo in the original post) may fail functions that didn’t fail after all.


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