Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lock types and Query hints in SQL Server

Lock types

There are three main types of locks that SQL Server 7.0/2000 uses:

Shared locks Update locks Exclusive locks

Shared locks are used for operations that do not change or update data, such as a SELECT statement.

Update locks are used when SQL Server intends to modify a page, and later promotes the update page lock to an exclusive page lock before actually making the changes.

Exclusive locks are used for the data modification operations, such as UPDATE, INSERT, or DELETE.

Shared locks are compatible with other Shared locks or Update locks.

Update locks are compatible with Shared locks only.

Exclusive locks are not compatible with other lock types.

Let me to describe it on the real example. There are four processes, which attempt to lock the same page of the same table. These processes start one after another, so Process1 is the first process, Process2 is the second process and so on.

Process1 : SELECT
Process2 : SELECT
Process3 : UPDATE
Process4 : SELECT

Process1 sets the Shared lock on the page, because there are no another locks on this page.
Process2 sets the Shared lock on the page, because Shared locks are compatible with other Shared locks.
Process3 wants to modify data and wants to set Exclusive lock, but it cannot make it before Process1 and Process2 will be finished, because Exclusive lock is not compatible with other lock types. So, Process3 sets Update lock.
Process4 cannot set Shared lock on the page before Process3 will be finished. So, there is no Lock starvationLock starvation occurs when read transactions can monopolize a table or page, forcing a write transaction to wait indefinitely. So, Process4 waits before Process3 will be finished.
After Process1 and Process2 were finished, Process3 transfer Update lock into Exclusivelock to modify data. After Process3 was finished, Process4 sets the Shared lock on the page to select data.

Locking optimizer hints

SQL Server 7.0/2000 supports the following Locking optimizer hints:


NOLOCK is also known as "dirty reads". This option directs SQL Server not to issue shared locks and not to honor exclusive locks. So, if this option is specified, it is possible to read an uncommitted transaction. This results in higher concurrency and in lower consistency.

HOLDLOCK directs SQL Server to hold a shared lock until completion of the transaction in which HOLDLOCK is used. You cannot use HOLDLOCK in a SELECT statement that includes the FOR BROWSE option. HOLDLOCK is equivalent to SERIALIZABLE.

UPDLOCK instructs SQL Server to use update locks instead of shared locks while reading a table and holds them until the end of the command or transaction.

TABLOCK takes a shared lock on the table that is held until the end of the command. If you also specify HOLDLOCK, the lock is held until the end of the transaction.

PAGLOCK is used by default. Directs SQL Server to use shared page locks.

TABLOCKX takes an exclusive lock on the table that is held until the end of the command or transaction.

Perform a scan with the same locking semantics as a transaction running at the READ COMMITTED isolation level. By default, SQL Server operates at this isolation level.

Equivalent to NOLOCK.

Perform a scan with the same locking semantics as a transaction running at the REPEATABLE READ isolation level.

Perform a scan with the same locking semantics as a transaction running at the SERIALIZABLE isolation level. Equivalent to HOLDLOCK.

Skip locked rows. This option causes a transaction to skip over rows locked by other transactions that would ordinarily appear in the result set, rather than block the transaction waiting for the other transactions to release their locks on these rows. The READPAST lock hint applies only to transactions operating at READ COMMITTED isolation and will read only past row-level locks. Applies only to the SELECT statement.
You can only specify the READPAST lock in the READ COMMITTED or REPEATABLE READ isolation levels.

Use row-level locks rather than use the coarser-grained page- and table-level locks.

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