How to compare two SQL Server 2008 configurations

You really just have to get creative. As we all know, there are many places that settings are stored, depending on what exactly you're looking to compare. For instance, to compare instance-wide configuration settings, you can simple do an EXCEPT query (you may have to create a linked server, or export/import the data depending on how you want to approach that):

select *
from [YourProdInstance].master.sys.configurations


select *
from [YourDevInstance].master.sys.configurations

Use this same type of methodology for all other configuration settings that you will want to compare.

  1. Find the root of the config data
  2. Get both instances' config data in a common place
  3. Write a query that will compare the data (whether it is XML, or not)

You can use custom policies or predefined ones (so called best practices) and adjust them according to your developer SQL Server instance. Then, as explained in the SQL Server Policy Based Management – evaluating policies on multiple SQL Server instances online article, evaluate them against (even multiple) production instances

I wrote an open source utility that will script out common server configurations and save them to various files. It includes everything in sys.configurations as well as security settings, server properties, credentials, databases and a whole lot more.

The utility is SQL Server Configurations on CodePlex.

If you script out the two servers and use a diff utility on the results you should have a pretty good list of what's different between the two servers. I mostly use it for DR purposes but it should work well in this case.