Capturing SQL Server Extended Event data to file

Jul 01, 2022

Getting collected event data from an XE session into a csv file

TLDR - just show me how you did this


I have a SQL Server Extended Event (XE) session running on a server that I manage which is only logging event to the ring_buffer, ie its in memory, not in a file on disk, but I want to collect the event information in to a file occassionally. My first reaction then is to turn to dbaTools to see if there is a command for this.

Get-Command -module dbatools *XE*

The results are 33, yes THIRTY THREE, commands!! but there are some rogue results in there ( I see you ‘Get-DbaQueryExecutionTime’ and ‘Get-DbaSsisExecutionHistory’), let’s modify that a little and see if it gets better …

Get-Command -module dbatools *-dbaXE*

Ugh, still got 29 candidates!. Perhaps we can immediately reject commands with verbs like Convert, Import, Invoke, New, Start, and Stop …

Get-Command -module dbatools *-dbaXE*|? verb -notin ('Convert', 'Import', 'Invoke', 'New', 'Start', 'Stop')

Down to 17 now, so I started reading the documentation at and frankly got myself in a muddle. I didn’t find the content clear about what some commands do - whether they relate to XE session config or the output of the sessions etc. so I resorted to asking on Twitter. Chrissy LeMaire @cl very kindly pointed me in the right direction by suggesting I use Watch-DbaXeSession, and specifically Example 2. which is

Watch-DbaXESession -SqlInstance sql2017 -Session system_health | Export-Csv -NoTypeInformation -Path C:\temp\system_health.csv

This seems to make sense but the help line underneath that gave me a reason to pause and think “Exports live events to CSV. Ctrl-C may not not cancel out of it - fastest way is to stop the session.” - I didn’t want to have to Ctrl + C my PS command or exit my PS session or stop the XE session on the server…


By the time I had returned to my work laptop (the Twitter exchange happened after hours) I had an idea to try out

Start-Job -Name XEWatcher -ScriptBlock { 
    Watch-DbaXESession -SqlInstance sql2017 -Session system_health | Export-Csv -NoTypeInformation -Path '\\FileShare\Path\system_health.csv' -Append

This started the Watch-DbaXeSession but running it in a job means its out of my face and I can continue coding whatever I am working on. As it observes a captured event the data is passed down the pipeline to the Export-Csv command which drops the data into my csv file.

When I have had enough information exported I can run

Stop-Job XEWatcher

Remove-Job XEWatcher

This frees up the csv file for other app access.

I havent monitored the effect of leaving this run for a long time so I dont recommend it, just to preserver your resources and not experience an issue.