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SQL SERVER - How To Handle Deadlock

, 22 Sep 2009
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An article on how to handle deadlock

Introduction

A deadlock is a situation wherein two transactions wait for each other to give up their respective locks.

When this happens, the SQL Server ends the deadlock by automatically choosing one and aborting the process, allowing the other process to continue. The aborted transaction is rolled back and an error message is sent to the user of the aborted process. Generally, the transaction that requires the least amount of overhead to rollback is the transaction that is aborted.

This article will explain how to handle deadlocks in a user-friendly way.

The Deadlock

Transaction A attempts to update table 1 and subsequently read/update data from table 2, whereas transaction B attempts to update table 2 and subsequently read/update data from table 1. In such situations, transaction A holds locks that transaction B needs to complete its task and vice versa; neither transaction can complete until the other transaction releases locks.

The Deadlock Situation

The below example shows the deadlock situation between the two transactions.

Transaction A

 BEGIN TRANSACTION

 UPDATE Customer SET LastName = 'John' WHERE CustomerId=111
 WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:05' -- Wait for 5 ms
 UPDATE Orders SET CustomerId = 1 WHERE OrderId = 221

 COMMIT TRANSACTION

Transaction B

 BEGIN TRANSACTION

 UPDATE Orders SET ShippingId = 12 WHERE OrderId = 221
 WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:05' -- Wait for 5 ms
 UPDATE Customer SET FirstName = 'Mike' WHERE CustomerId=111

 COMMIT TRANSACTION 

If both the transactions are executed at the same time, then Transaction A locks and updates Customer table whereas transaction B locks and updates Orders table. After a delay of 5 ms, transaction A looks for the lock on Orders table which is already held by transaction B and transaction B looks for lock on Customer table which is held by transaction A. So both the transactions cannot proceed further, the deadlock occurs and the SQL server returns the error message 1205 for the aborted transaction.

(1 row(s) affected)
Msg 1205, Level 13, State 45, Line 5
Transaction (Process ID 52) was deadlocked on lock resources with 
another process and has been chosen as the deadlock victim.
Rerun the transaction.

But what if you don't like the default behavior (aborting the transaction)? Can you change it? Yes, you can, by rewriting Transactions A and B as shown below.

Transaction A

RETRY: -- Label RETRY
BEGIN TRANSACTION
BEGIN TRY

	UPDATE Customer SET LastName = 'John' WHERE CustomerId=111
	WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:05'  -- Wait for 5 ms
	UPDATE Orders SET CustomerId = 1 WHERE OrderId = 221

	COMMIT TRANSACTION
END TRY
BEGIN CATCH
	PRINT 'Rollback Transaction'
	ROLLBACK TRANSACTION
	IF ERROR_NUMBER() = 1205 -- Deadlock Error Number
	BEGIN
		WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:00.05' -- Wait for 5 ms
		GOTO RETRY -- Go to Label RETRY
	END
END CATCH

Transaction B

RETRY: -- Label RETRY
BEGIN TRANSACTION
BEGIN TRY
	UPDATE Orders SET ShippingId = 12 Where OrderId = 221
	WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:05' -- Wait for 5 ms
	UPDATE Customer SET FirstName = 'Mike' WHERE CustomerId=111

	COMMIT TRANSACTION
END TRY
BEGIN CATCH
	PRINT 'Rollback Transaction'
	ROLLBACK TRANSACTION
	IF ERROR_NUMBER() = 1205 -- Deadlock Error Number
	BEGIN
		WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:00.05' -- Wait for 5 ms
		GOTO RETRY -- Go to Label RETRY
	END
END CATCH

Here I have used Label RETRY at the beginning of both the transactions. The TRY/CATCH method is used to handle the exceptions in the transactions. If the code within the TRY block fails, the control automatically jumps to the CATCH block, letting the transaction roll back, and if the exception is occurred due to deadlock (Error_Number 1205), the transaction waits for 5 milliseconds. The delay is used here because the other transaction (which is not aborted) can complete its operation within delay duration and release the lock on the table which was required by the aborted transaction. You can increase the delay according to the size of your transactions. After the delay, the transaction starts executing from the beginning (RETRY: Label RETRY at the beginning of the transaction) using the below statement:

GOTO RETRY -- Go to Label RETRY

This statement is used to transfer the control to the label named RETRY (which is at the beginning).

Now Execute the Transaction A and Transaction B at the same time. Both the transactions will execute successfully. Have a look into the outputs of the transaction where the exception occurred.

(1 row(s) affected)
Rollback Transaction

(1 row(s) affected)

(1 row(s) affected) 

Using RetryCounter

Now, I guess you understood how to handle deadlock without aborting the transaction. Let's move to the next interesting topic about deadlock. Imagine if there are more than two processes that read/update the Customer or Orders table at the same time. Below, I have modified both the transactions where I have shown how we can use RetryCounter to solve the problem.

Transaction A

DECLARE @RetryCounter INT
SET @RetryCounter = 1
RETRY: -- Label RETRY
BEGIN TRANSACTION
BEGIN TRY

	UPDATE Customer SET LastName = 'John' WHERE CustomerId=111
	WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:05'  -- Wait for 5 ms
	UPDATE Orders SET CustomerId = 1 WHERE OrderId = 221

	COMMIT TRANSACTION
END TRY
BEGIN CATCH
	PRINT 'Rollback Transaction'
	ROLLBACK TRANSACTION
	DECLARE @DoRetry bit; -- Whether to Retry transaction or not
	DECLARE @ErrorMessage varchar(500)
	SET @doRetry = 0;
	SET @ErrorMessage = ERROR_MESSAGE()
	IF ERROR_NUMBER() = 1205 -- Deadlock Error Number
	BEGIN
		SET @doRetry = 1; -- Set @doRetry to 1 only for Deadlock
	END
	IF @DoRetry = 1
	BEGIN
		SET @RetryCounter = @RetryCounter + 1 -- Increment Retry Counter By one
		IF (@RetryCounter > 3) -- Check whether Retry Counter reached to 3
		BEGIN
			RAISERROR(@ErrorMessage, 18, 1) -- Raise Error Message if 
				-- still deadlock occurred after three retries
		END
		ELSE
		BEGIN
			WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:00.05' -- Wait for 5 ms
			GOTO RETRY	-- Go to Label RETRY
		END
	END
	ELSE
	BEGIN
		RAISERROR(@ErrorMessage, 18, 1)
	END
END CATCH

Transaction B

DECLARE @RetryCounter INT
SET @RetryCounter = 1
RETRY: -- Label RETRY
BEGIN TRANSACTION
BEGIN TRY
	UPDATE Orders SET ShippingId = 12 Where OrderId = 221
	WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:05' -- Wait for 5 ms
	UPDATE Customer SET FirstName = 'Mike' WHERE CustomerId=111
	COMMIT TRANSACTION
END TRY
BEGIN CATCH
	PRINT 'Rollback Transaction'
	ROLLBACK TRANSACTION
	DECLARE @DoRetry bit; -- Whether to Retry transaction or not
	DECLARE @ErrorMessage varchar(500)
	SET @doRetry = 0;
	SET @ErrorMessage = ERROR_MESSAGE()
	IF ERROR_NUMBER() = 1205 -- Deadlock Error Number
	BEGIN
		SET @doRetry = 1; -- Set @doRetry to 1 only for Deadlock
	END
	IF @DoRetry = 1
	BEGIN
		SET @RetryCounter = @RetryCounter + 1 -- Increment Retry Counter By one
		IF (@RetryCounter > 3) -- Check whether Retry Counter reached to 3
		BEGIN
			RAISERROR(@ErrorMessage, 18, 1) -- Raise Error Message 
				-- if still deadlock occurred after three retries
		END
		ELSE
		BEGIN
			WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:00.05' -- Wait for 5 ms
			GOTO RETRY	-- Go to Label RETRY
		END
	END
	ELSE
	BEGIN
		RAISERROR(@ErrorMessage, 18, 1)
	END
END CATCH

The RetryCounter variable used here gives a chance for the transaction to execute again if it fails due to deadlock (Error_Number 1205). In this example, the transaction can try to execute up to three times if it fails due to a deadlock. This scenario would be very useful if the transaction looking for the lock which was not released by the other transactions for a long time. So the transaction can try three times to check whether the required lock is available.

History

  • 20th September, 2009: Initial version

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

About the Author

Nitin Chilka
Software Developer (Senior) Proteans Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
India India
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

 
Generalcomment PinmemberNIkradsystem27-Nov-13 2:03 
SuggestionHandling Transaction in MT PinmemberChristopher Ayroso27-Oct-13 19:11 
QuestionNice explanation.. Pinprofessionalvikram.mahapatra29-Sep-13 4:14 
QuestionGood Article Pinmemberprashant patil 498728-Aug-13 18:02 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberprashant patil 498728-Aug-13 18:01 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberjooh5530-Apr-12 10:35 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberAkram El Assas24-Apr-12 13:41 
QuestionMy vote of 5 Pinmemberandrusha0077-Mar-12 3:34 
GeneralTransaction already in progress Pinmembermtaubman6-May-11 6:32 
GeneralNice Article Pinmemberlinuxjr16-May-10 13:23 
GeneralExcellent! PinmemberOmar Gamil24-Apr-10 23:31 
GeneralGood article PinmemberDonsw14-Feb-10 11:00 
GeneralNice PingroupMd. Marufuzzaman30-Sep-09 6:23 
GeneralThanks for good article :) Pinmemberchdisme28-Sep-09 18:46 
QuestionReassurance PinmemberDan Towers28-Sep-09 6:28 
GeneralIt might work, but... PinmemberCristian Amarie28-Sep-09 1:11 
GeneralRe: It might work, but... PinmemberNitin Chilka30-Sep-09 18:53 
GeneralRe: It might work, but... PinmemberCristian Amarie30-Sep-09 22:55 
GeneralRe: It might work, but... Pinmember_henke_10-Apr-11 0:23 
GeneralRe: It might work, but... PinmemberCristian Amarie7-May-11 8:42 
GeneralRe: It might work, but... PinmemberCristian Amarie7-May-11 8:44 
GeneralGood Article PinmemberChitra Govindasamy24-Sep-09 22:48 
GeneralGood one PinmembercrudeCodeYogi24-Sep-09 4:42 
GeneralRe: Good one PinmemberNitin Chilka30-Sep-09 18:57 
GeneralGood Point PinmemberAbhishek Sur22-Sep-09 13:30 
GeneralGood one ! PinmvpAbhijit Jana22-Sep-09 12:57 

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