Locking and Blocking in SQL Server

Locking and Blocking in SQL Server

Locking and Blocking in SQL Server

This article is from my book:

Tuning SQL Server (eBook)

Tuning SQL Server (Second Edition)

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The majority of modern relational database management systems (RDBMSs) make use of lock-based concurrency. Lock-based concurrency is the approach based on which the Database Engine of a RDBMS ensures that no actions of committed transactions are lost. This is actually what Locking is.

SQL Server locks resources using different lock modes that determine how the resources can be accessed by concurrent transactions. SQL Server uses the following lock modes:

  • Shared (S)
  • Update (U)
  • Exclusive (X)
  • Intent
  • Schema
  • Bulk Update (BU)
  • Key-range

In RDBMSs with lock-based concurrency, such as SQL Server, there are many cases where blocking can occur. Blocking takes place when one server process id (SPID) holds a lock on one resource and a second SPID tries to place a lock of a conflicting type on the same resource. Most of the times, each blocking incident does not take much time and it is a natural behavior of RDBMs that use lock-based concurrency in order to help ensure data integrity.

There are sometimes however undesirable “blocking” incidents. Such incidents are:

  • Starvation: It is the case where a transaction does not release a lock on a table/page thus forcing another transaction to wait indefinitely. SQL Server handles such issues with timeouts.
  • Deadlock: It is the case where two transactions wait for each other in order to release their respective locks. SQL Server handles this by automatically selecting one of the two transactions and aborting the other along with rolling it back and sending an error message.

Learn more about SQL Server Performance Tuning in my latest eBook “Tuning SQL Server (second edition)”!

The SQL Server and .NET Hub

Reference: The SQL Server and .NET Hub (http://www.sqlnethub.com)


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Artemakis Artemiou
Artemakis Artemiou is a Senior SQL Server and Software Architect, Author, and a former Microsoft Data Platform MVP (2009-2018). He has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry in various roles. Artemakis is the founder of SQLNetHub and TechHowTos.com. Artemakis is the creator of the well-known software tools Snippets Generator and DBA Security Advisor. Also, he is the author of many eBooks on SQL Server. Artemakis currently serves as the President of the Cyprus .NET User Group (CDNUG) and the International .NET Association Country Leader for Cyprus (INETA). Artemakis's official website can be found at aartemiou.com.