SQL Server How to Check What Settings Are Set On Active Sessions

Jun 1, 2018

SQL Server has a number of settings set on a session that can influence the behaviour or queries. When debugging issues, it’s often useful to be able to get a list of all user sessions and their current settings to check nothing specific to the session is causing odd behaviour. The sys.dm_exec_sessions dynamic management view has a wealth of information on this. As well as containing all sorts of counters like CPU, Reads, Transaction counts etc is also lists all the settings that are set on each session.

Different settings will also cause different query plans to be used so if 2 users are running the same query with the same parameters where one is slow and one is fast it’s often worth checking their session settings.

The below query will bring back all active sessions and the settings they have set on them.

SELECT
   login_name LoginName,
   host_name HostName,
   login_time LoginTime,
   DB_NAME(database_id) DatabaseName,
   program_name ProgramName,
   [status] Status,
   text_size,
   language,
   date_format,
   date_first,
   quoted_identifier,
   arithabort,
   ansi_null_dflt_on,
   ansi_defaults,
   ansi_warnings,
   ansi_padding,
   ansi_nulls,
   concat_null_yields_null
FROM
   sys.dm_exec_sessions
WHERE
   is_user_process = 1

From here we run queries that will highlight things like different settings used on a given Program/Databasename combination which could cause issues. For example if application A has 10 users connected with a date format of DMY and 1 user with MDY then if not handled correctly by the application you can get very mixed results. The following query can highlight some warnings around applications connecting with multiple date settings…

SELECT
   s1.program_name ProgramName,
   DB_NAME(s1.database_id) DatabaseName,
   s1.language,
   s1.date_format,
   s1.date_first,
   COUNT(*) Cnt
FROM
   sys.dm_exec_sessions s1
   CROSS APPLY(
      SELECT TOP 1 session_id FROM sys.dm_exec_sessions s2
      WHERE
         s1.program_name = s2.program_name
         AND s1.database_id = s2.database_id
         AND(
            s1.language <> s2.language OR
            s1.date_format <> s2.date_format OR
            s1.date_first <> s2.date_first
         )
   ) s2
WHERE
   s1.is_user_process = 1
   AND s2.session_id IS NOT NULL
   AND s1.program_name NOT LIKE 'Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio%' /*Ignore SSMS*/
GROUP BY
   s1.program_name,
   DB_NAME(s1.database_id),
   s1.language,
   s1.date_format,
   s1.date_first
ORDER BY ProgramName, DB_NAME(s1.database_id)

If you want to see this in action comment out the last where clause to stop it from ignoring SSMS. Open two tabs in SSMS connect them to the same database and in tab 1 run this…

SET DATEFIRST 1

Then in tab 2…

SET DATEFIRST 2

Now run the query to highlight the differences.

Highlighting different session settings

If you’re using a version of SQL Server before 2012 then dm_exec_sessions will not have the database_id. If you want to get it you’ll have to go through dm_exec_requests…

SELECT
   dm_exec_sessions.program_name,
   DB_NAME(dm_exec_requests.database_id) [database]
FROM
   sys.dm_exec_sessions
   inner join sys.dm_exec_requests on dm_exec_requests.session_id = dm_exec_sessions.session_id
WHERE
   is_user_process = 1

SQL Server Minimally Logged Inserts (Assume Nothing!)

May 29, 2018

Side note : I originally started this post to show with examples all the scenarios where you can get minimal logging copying data from one table to another in SQL Server. I’m running SQL Server 2017 CU7 and it quickly turned out that I couldn’t get minimal logging to happen in all the scenarios the docs say it should work. Rather than not showing these scenarios, I’m still going to list the examples for them and just note where it didn’t behave as expected.

SQL Server under certain conditions can switch to minimal logging where it then logs at a much higher level (Extent/Page) rather than row. In this post I’m specifically looking at copying data from one table to another and getting the benefit of minimal logging. For SQL Server to use minimal logging a number of things have to be true…

  • Recovery model must be Simple or Bulk Logged
  • Table must be either
    • A heap and insert done with TABLOCK
    • A heap + nonclustered index with TABLOCK and either trace flag 610 or SQL Server 2016+
    • A clustered index with no data and TABLOCK
    • A clustered index with no data and either trace flag 610 or SQL Server 2016+
    • A clustered index with data and trace flag 610 or SQL Server 2016+
    • A clustered index with nonclustered indexes and TABLOCK and trace flag 610 or SQL Server 2016+

A LOT more information on the above can be found in the following articles from Microsoft

Even with everything above being true the optimizer can still choose plans that don’t minimally log. For example, if you insert into an empty clustered index and the source data isn’t in the same order as the clustered index then SQL Server will not minimally log. If you need an insert to use minimal logging it’s always best to test it first and not just assume you’re going to get it.

Below I’m going to cover a number of examples of the above conditions and show ways to check if you are getting minimal logging. I’m running all the examples in this post on SQL Server 2017 CU7 so trace flat 610 is not needed for me but if you’re on a version before 2016 you’ll need to enable this traceflag to get the same results.

For the examples in this post I’m going to be using the Stack Overflow database because it’s a nice size and has a schema that is easily understandable. You can download various sized versions from BrentOzar.com

I’ve written the following stored procedure to return log information for a given query. If you’re following along create this in the Stack Overflow database…

/*
   Example Usage...
   EXEC GetLogUseStats
   @Sql = '
      INSERT INTO PostsDestination
      SELECT * FROM Posts ORDER BY Id ',
   @Schema = 'dbo',
   @Table = 'PostsDestination',
   @ClearData = 1

*/

ALTER PROCEDURE [dbo].[GetLogUseStats]
(	
   @Sql NVARCHAR(400),
   @Schema NVARCHAR(20),
   @Table NVARCHAR(200),
   @ClearData BIT = 0
)
AS

IF @ClearData = 1
   EXEC('TRUNCATE TABLE ' + @Table)

CHECKPOINT

/*Snapshot of logsize before query*/
CREATE TABLE #BeforeLogUsed(
   [Db] NVARCHAR(100),
   LogSize NVARCHAR(30),
   Used NVARCHAR(50),
   Status INT
)
INSERT INTO #BeforeLogUsed
EXEC('DBCC SQLPERF(logspace)')

/*Run Query*/
EXECUTE sp_executesql @SQL

/*Snapshot of logsize after query*/
CREATE TABLE #AfterLLogUsed(	
   [Db] NVARCHAR(100),
   LogSize NVARCHAR(30),
   Used NVARCHAR(50),
   Status INT
)
INSERT INTO #AfterLLogUsed
EXEC('DBCC SQLPERF(logspace)')

/*Return before and after log size*/
SELECT 
   CAST(#AfterLLogUsed.Used AS DECIMAL(12,4)) - CAST(#BeforeLogUsed.Used AS DECIMAL(12,4)) AS LogSpaceUsersByInsert
FROM 
   #BeforeLogUsed 
   LEFT JOIN #AfterLLogUsed ON #AfterLLogUsed.Db = #BeforeLogUsed.Db
WHERE 
   #BeforeLogUsed.Db = DB_NAME()

/*Get list of affected indexes from insert query*/
SELECT 
   @Schema + '.' + so.name + '.' +  si.name AS IndexName
INTO 
   #IndexNames
FROM 
   sys.indexes si 
   JOIN sys.objects so ON si.[object_id] = so.[object_id]
WHERE 
   si.name IS NOT NULL
   AND so.name = @Table
INSERT INTO #IndexNames VALUES(@Schema + '.' + @Table)

/*Get log recrod sizes for heap and/or any indexes*/
SELECT 
   AllocUnitName,
   [operation], 
   AVG([log record length]) AvgLogLength,
   SUM([log record length]) TotalLogLength,
   COUNT(*) Count
INTO #LogBreakdown
FROM 
   fn_dblog(null, null) fn
   INNER JOIN #IndexNames ON #IndexNames.IndexName = allocunitname
GROUP BY 
   [Operation], AllocUnitName
ORDER BY AllocUnitName, operation

SELECT * FROM #LogBreakdown
SELECT AllocUnitName, SUM(TotalLogLength)  TotalLogRecordLength 
FROM #LogBreakdown
GROUP BY AllocUnitName

GetLogUseStats will allow us to pass in an insert query and a table name then return all the log information that happened on the table and its associated indexes. For this post I’ll mainly be passing 1 in for the ClearData parameter to force each query to run on an empty table. This is designed to be run on a Development server, for accuracy try to run it on a database that nothing else is running on or log records written by other queries will throw out the results.

To keep the examples simple, we’re just going to look at ways to insert all the records in the posts table into a second table. If you’re following along once you’ve restored Stack Overflow database set it to simple recovery model (Bulk would also work). I’ve trimmed the Posts table down to 500k records to keep things running fast on my laptop but you can adjust this to suit your machine.

ALTER DATABASE StackOverflow SET RECOVERY SIMPLE

create an empty table that we’re going to copy the posts into…

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[PostsDestination](
   [Id] [int] NOT NULL,
   [AcceptedAnswerId] [int] NULL,
   [AnswerCount] [int] NULL,
   [Body] [nvarchar](max) NOT NULL,
   [ClosedDate] [datetime] NULL,
   [CommentCount] [int] NULL,
   [CommunityOwnedDate] [datetime] NULL,
   [CreationDate] [datetime] NOT NULL,
   [FavoriteCount] [int] NULL,
   [LastActivityDate] [datetime] NOT NULL,
   [LastEditDate] [datetime] NULL,
   [LastEditorDisplayName] [nvarchar](40) NULL,
   [LastEditorUserId] [int] NULL,
   [OwnerUserId] [int] NULL,
   [ParentId] [int] NULL,
   [PostTypeId] [int] NOT NULL,
   [Score] [int] NOT NULL,
   [Tags] [nvarchar](150) NULL,
   [Title] [nvarchar](250) NULL,
   [ViewCount] [int] NOT NULL,
)

So at this point we have a heap with no nonclustered indexes.

I’m going to run through each of the points above that support minimal logging but before we do lets first do an insert into the heap with no TABLOCK which as we can see from the bullet points above will not minimally log…

EXEC sp_GetLogUseStats
   @Sql = '
      INSERT INTO PostsDestination
      SELECT * FROM Posts ORDER BY Id ',
   @Schema = 'dbo',
   @Table = 'PostsDestination',
   @ClearData = 1

Heap Not Minimally Logged Screenshot

We’ve caused the log file to grow 0.1701mb and we can see we have a large number of individual LOP_INSERT_ROWS records in our log file. As suspected this query was not minimally logged. Follow through the next example to see what a minimally logged query looks like.

Heap With No Indexes and TABLOCK

Let’s try this again but this time using TABLOCK to take a table lock on our PostsDestination table which as we know should get us a minimally logged insert..

EXEC sp_GetLogUseStats
   @Sql = '
      INSERT INTO PostsDestination WITH(TABLOCK)
      SELECT * FROM Posts ORDER BY Id ',
   @Schema = 'dbo',
   @Table = 'PostsDestination',
   @ClearData = 1

Heap Minimally Logged Screenshot

Our log record growth has gone from 0.1701mb to 0.0026mb, down by about a factor of 60 (These are low numbers even on the non minimally logged example as I shrunk my dataset). Also notice we have hardly any LOG_INSERT_ROWS records as we’re now working at the page level rather than the row.

Heap With NonClustered Index and TABLOCK (Trace Flag 610 or 2016+)

This is where things get interesting according to the docs you get minimal logging on a nonclustered index when using TABLOCK if you either enable trace flag 610 or are on SQL Server 2016. As mentioned I’m running SQL Server 2017 CU7, let’s see what happens….

First create a nonclustered index on our table…

CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX ndx_PostsDestination_Id ON PostsDestination(Id)
ALTER INDEX ndx_PostsDestination_Id ON PostsDestination SET (ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS = ON);

I’m explicitly setting ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS to on here even though it’s the default just to prove the index will allow page locking as without it the insert can’t be minimally logged.

Then let’s run our insert again with TABLOCK…

EXEC sp_GetLogUseStats
   @Sql = '
      INSERT INTO PostsDestination WITH(TABLOCK)
      SELECT * FROM Posts ORDER BY Id ',
   @Schema = 'dbo',
   @Table = 'PostsDestination',
   @ClearData = 1

Heap + NonClustered Not Minimally Logged Screenshot

Looking at this we can see the log file grew by 0.1718mb and log records for both the heap and the index have a high number of LOG_INSERT_ROW records. Not only did we not minimally log the insert into the index we also lost minimal logging to the heap. This is completely unexpected from reading the documentation. I’m not sure if I’ve missed something here but as far as I can see the query above meets all the criteria for a minimally logged insert.

Empty Clustered Index With TABLOCK

If you still have it drop the nonclustered index from the above example and create a clustered index…

DROP INDEX  ndx_PostsDestination_Id ON PostsDestination
CREATE CLUSTERED INDEX ndx_PostsDestination_Id ON PostsDestination(Id)

Then lets run our TABLOCK insert again…

EXEC GetLogUseStats
   @Sql = '
      INSERT INTO PostsDestination WITH(TABLOCK)
      SELECT * FROM Posts ORDER BY Id ',
   @Schema = 'dbo',
   @Table = 'PostsDestination',
   @ClearData = 1

 Clustered Minimally Logged Screenshot

Woop back in to chartered territory, minimal logging is back! The log grew by 0.0013mb (Our smallest yet) and only 3 LOP_INSERT_ROW records.

Empty Clustered Index With Trace 610 Or 2016+

Now let’s try again without TABLOCK, before we do that though let’s drop and recreate the index to keep things clean

DROP INDEX  ndx_PostsDestination_Id ON PostsDestination
CREATE CLUSTERED INDEX ndx_PostsDestination_Id ON PostsDestination(Id)
EXEC GetLogUseStats
   @Sql = '
      INSERT INTO PostsDestination
      SELECT * FROM Posts ORDER BY Id ',
   @Schema = 'dbo',
   @Table = 'PostsDestination',
   @ClearData = 1

 Clustered Minimally Logged Screenshot

Failure number 2! 0.0251mb Log Growth and lots of log operations at LOP_INSERT_ROW level. Reason again that you should always check your assumptions with minimal logging if you’re relying on it happening.

Clustered Index With Data and Trace 610 OR 2016+

Moving along, let’s recreate the index again…

DROP INDEX  ndx_PostsDestination_Id ON PostsDestination
CREATE CLUSTERED INDEX ndx_PostsDestination_Id ON PostsDestination(Id)

Now let’s insert records with an Id < 100

INSERT INTO PostsDestination
SELECT * FROM Posts WHERE Id < 100 ORDER BY Id

Now let’s try inserting where the Id is > 100 with TABLOCK and without clearing down the table first…

EXEC GetLogUseStats
   @Sql = '
      INSERT INTO PostsDestination WITH(TABLOCK)
      SELECT * FROM Posts 
      WHERE Id > 100 
      ORDER BY Id ',
   @Schema = 'dbo',
   @Table = 'PostsDestination',
   @ClearData = 0

Notice the @ClearData=0.

 Clustered Not Empty Not Logged Screenshot

Failure number 3, high log growth with many LOP_ROW_INSERT log records.

Clustered Index With NonClustered Indexes and TABLOCK Or Trace 610/SQL 2016+

Let’s first recreate our clustered index and add nonclustered index to the mix…

DROP INDEX  ndx_PostsDestination_Id ON PostsDestination
CREATE CLUSTERED INDEX ndx_PostsDestination_Id ON PostsDestination(Id)
CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX ndx_PostsDestination_CommentCount ON PostsDestination(CommentCount)

Now let’s try our insert again

EXEC GetLogUseStats
   @Sql = '
      INSERT INTO PostsDestination WITH(TABLOCK)
      SELECT * FROM Posts 
      ORDER BY Id ',
   @Schema = 'dbo',
   @Table = 'PostsDestination',
   @ClearData = 1

Failure number 4! High log growth and inserted log records at a row level.

Summary

So all the scenarios where minimal logging should work with a nonclustered index failed along with any that said TABLOCK was not required and anywhere data already exists.

These results weren’t as I’d expected but this was still an interesting exorcise. I’m sure I’m missing something here but after rereading the documentation several times I really can’t see what. If anyone does have any ideas on the above scenarios drop me a message in the comments.

SQL Server Debugging With RAISERROR Instead Of Print

May 21, 2018

When testing/debugging TSQL it’s common to use the print statement throughout to see what was happening where in much the same way that other languages use things like console.log.

One of the big issues with print is it buffers and you can’t control when it gets written to the output stopping you seeing where a query is at whilst it’s running.

For example…

PRINT 'First'
WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:05'
PRINT 'Second'

You’ll see that neither print statement writes anything to the messages tab until the query has finished. This makes print statement useless for gauging what a query is currently doing.

RAISERRROR to the rescue, if you set a severity of info then it behaves much like print in that it won’t change the way the query run and you can output messages. RAISERROR has a NOWAIT option you can use to cause it to return the output straight away and avoid the buffering problems that print has.

RAISERROR ('First', 0, 1) WITH NOWAIT
WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:05'
RAISERROR ('Second', 0, 1) WITH NOWAIT

In the above example we’re using a severity of zero to make sure it acts as an info message and not an actual error, this will cause it to work just like print even when wrapped in a try block. To prove this…

BEGIN TRY
   RAISERROR ('Here', 0, 1) WITH NOWAIT
END TRY
BEGIN CATCH
   PRINT 'Wont Ever Get Here'
END CATCH

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