Monday, March 21, 2011

Using the NOLOCK Table Hint

Each time you write and execute a T-SQL Query in SQL Server, the Database Engine selects the most optimized query plan for executing the query.

The SQL Server Database Engine component that undertakes this task is the Query Optimizer. Given the T-SQL query itself as well as the underlying database(s) design, the Query Optimizer selects the best execution plan for the query and then it executes the query.

Now, in SQL Server you can make use of several query hints, such as locking hints. Though, as SQL Server Query Optimizer typically selects the best execution plan for a query, it is not recommended for inexperienced developers and administrators to make use of them.

Nevertheless, today I will talk about a special table hint, that is the NOLOCK hint. This hint is equivalent to the READUNCOMMITTED hint.

A typical example of using the NOLOCK hint is the following:


Similar examples:




For environments where many concurrent queries are executed against the same database objects (i.e. Web Applications), the NOLOCK hint can become quite handy. By using this hint, the transaction isolation level for the SELECT statement is READ UNCOMMITTED. Of course, this means that the query may see inconsistent data, that is data not yet committed, etc. So, if this is not a problem for you, it might solve many concurrency issues.

Though note that in general is not a good idea to apply the above practice as a rule.

I hope you found this post useful!

Until next time!
Check out my latest eBook on SQL Server:
Tuning SQL Server - Ebook

Easily secure your SQL Server instances! Try out DBA Security Advisor!
DBA Security Advisor for SQL Server by SQLArtBits
DBA Security Advisor was developed by SQLArtBits. The tool was being carefully developed for an entire year and it contains comprehensive security checks and recommendations based on proven SQL Server security best practices. Feel free to download and use the Community Edition which is free and if you find it useful, you can consider upgrading to the Enterprise Edition!

Artemakis Artemiou [MVP]

Author & Editor

Artemakis Artemiou is a Senior SQL Server Architect, Software Developer and Microsoft Data Platform MVP. He is also an author, regular blogger, president of Cyprus.NET User Group and CY Country leader of INETA-EU. He is also the creator of DBA Security Advisor and In-Memory OLTP Simulator. Artemakis is a frequent guest author of worldwide well-respected online journals where he writes articles focusing on many SQL Server topics.

Reference: The SQL Server and .NET Hub (