SQL Server Health Check

Fail-Safe Operator For SQL Server Agent

Mark Varnas
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What is a fail-safe operator in SQL Server?

A fail-safe operator is a backup user who receives the alert if the designated operator cannot be reached.

It will be used when the SQL Server Agent cannot communicate with the system tables in the msdb database.

The fail-safe operator will also receive notifications if you have scheduled operators to only receive notifications during certain periods and notification occurs outside of that range.

For example, if no operators are set to receive notifications on Sunday, the notification will automatically go to the fail-safe operator.

How to identify the issue? How to fix it?

Microsoft’s best practices recommend designating a fail-safe operator.

You can do it using SQL Server Management Studio by following the steps below:

  1. In Object Explorer, click the plus sign to expand the server that contains the SQL Server Agent operator that you want to designate as a fail-safe.
  2. Right-click SQL Server Agent and select Properties.
  3. In the SQL Server Agent Properties, under Select a page, select Alert System.
  4. Under fail-safe operator, select Enable fail-safe operator.
  5. In the Operator list, select the operator that you want to make a fail-safe.
  6. Select either any or all of the following checkboxes to specify how the operator will be notified: E-mail, Pager, or Net send.
  7. When finished, click OK.


  1. You need to have Database Mail configured first.
  2. You also need to have an operator configured.

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Article by
Mark Varnas
Founder | CEO | SQL Veteran
Hey, I'm Mark, one of the guys behind Red9. I make a living performance tuning SQL Servers and making them more stable. I channel my SQL into our SQL Managed Services, SQL Consulting and our internal database products.

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