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Transaction Recovery

SQL Server 2000

Every Microsoft® SQL Server™ 2000 database has a transaction log that records data modifications made in the database. The log records the start and end of every transaction and associates each modification with a transaction. An instance of SQL Server stores enough information in the log to either redo (roll forward) or undo (roll back) the data modifications that make up a transaction. Each record in the log is identified by a unique log sequence number (LSN). All of the log records for a transaction are chained together.

An instance of SQL Server records many different types of information in the transaction log. Instances of SQL Server 2000 primarily log the logical operations performed. The operation is reapplied to roll forward a modification, and the opposite of the logical operation is performed to roll back a modification.

Each instance of SQL Server controls when modifications are written from its data buffers to disk. An instance of SQL Server may cache modifications in buffers for a period of time to optimize disk writes. A buffer page that contains modifications that have not yet written to disk is known as a dirty page. Writing a dirty buffer page to disk is called flushing the page. When modifications are cached, care must be taken to ensure that no data modification is flushed before the corresponding log image is written to the log file. This could create a modification that could not be rolled back if necessary. To ensure that they can recover all modifications, instances of SQL Server use a write-ahead log, which means that all log images are written to disk before the corresponding data modification.

A commit operation forces all log records for a transaction to the log file so that the transaction is fully recoverable even if the server is shut down. A commit operation does not have to force all the modified data pages to disk as long as all the log records are flushed to disk. A system recovery can roll the transaction forward or backward using only the log records.

Periodically, each instance of SQL Server ensures that all dirty log and data pages are flushed. This is called a checkpoint. Checkpoints reduce the time and resources needed to recover when an instance of SQL Server is restarted. For more information on checkpoint processing, see Checkpoints and the Active Portion of the Log.

Rolling Back an Individual Transaction

If any errors occur during a transaction, the instance of SQL Server uses the information in the log file to roll back the transaction. This rollback does not affect the work of any other users working in the database at the same time. Usually, the error is returned to the application, and if the error indicates a possible problem with the transaction, the application issues a ROLLBACK statement. Some errors, such as a 1205 deadlock error, roll back a transaction automatically. If anything stops the communication between the client and an instance of SQL Server while a transaction is active, the instance rolls back the transaction automatically when notified of the stoppage by the network or operating system. This could happen if the client application terminates, if the client computer is shut down or restarted, or if the client network connection is broken. In all of these error conditions, any outstanding transaction is rolled back to protect the integrity of the database.

Recovery of All Outstanding Transactions at Start-up

It is possible for an instance of SQL Server to sometimes stop processing (for example, if an operator restarts the server while users are connected and working in databases). This can create two problems:

  • There may be an unknown number of SQL Server transactions partially completed at the time the instance stopped. These incomplete transactions need to be rolled back.

  • There may be an unknown number of data modifications recorded in the SQL Server database log files, but the corresponding modified data pages were not flushed to the data files before the server stopped. Any committed modifications must be rolled forward.

When an instance of SQL Server is started, it must find out if either of these conditions exist and address them. The following steps are taken in each SQL Server database that is in the instance:

  • The LSN of the last checkpoint is read from the database boot block along with the Minimum Recovery LSN.

  • The transaction log is scanned from the Minimum Recovery LSN to the end of the log. All committed dirty pages are rolled forward by redoing the logical operation recorded in the log record.

  • The instance of SQL Server then scans backward through the log file rolling back all uncompleted transactions by applying the opposite of the logical operation recorded in the log records.

The RESTORE statement also uses this type of recovery, unless a user specifies the NORECOVERY option. When restoring a sequence of database, differential, or log backups to recover a database to a point of failure, you specify NORECOVERY on all RESTORE statements except when restoring the last log backup. When the last backup in the sequence is restored, the RESTORE statement also has to ensure that all uncompleted transactions are rolled back. You specify the RECOVERY option on this RESTORE statement, in which case it uses the same logic as the startup recovery process to roll back all transactions that are still marked incomplete at the end of the last log.

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