Snapshot isolation and tempdb growth

Over the weekend we were alerted to a server running low on disk space. Not particularly exciting in itself, but the fact that it was happening on a relatively newly build SQL 2008 database server with a small database (~2.5GB) was interesting.

This particular database belongs to one of our newer and smaller websites, and has READ_COMMITTED_SNAPSHOT enabled (we did this to prevent excessive blocking, which we ran into and weren’t able to control many other ways since this site is built using an ORM which generates the SQL commands on the fly).

Anyway, getting back to the point; disk space was low because the tempdb data file was using around 15GB of space. I assumed that someone was explicitly  doing something to cause the blowout (index rebuilds, gnarly query, etc.) but I couldn’t find any culprits straight away.

I then checked the sys.dm_tran_session_transactions DMV (after reading through one of Raj’s posts) which showed one particularly long running session (over 14 days in fact!). There were no open transactions that I could see, and the session itself had been suspended for practically all of those 14 days, so the reason I hadn’t seen it earlier was that most of my queries were inner-joining to sys.dm_tran_session_transactions which didn’t have a corresponding row. The query had a shared schema lock on 2 tables though, which is why the version store wasn’t flushing I guess.

I had thought that the version store was only maintained while there was an open transaction though – so either there was an open transaction and I simply didn’t see it (I ran “DBCC OPENTRAN” with no results) or it was enough that the session held schema locks. Anyone have any ideas on this?

The last command executed by the SPID was a relatively common & trivial one from the website, so it looks like it was an orphaned connection from the application – although how that happened we’re not sure. I killed the SPID and was then able to shrink the tempdb down to its usual level.

I haven’t had much exposure to snapshot isolation, but at least now know to check for this if we have problems with tempdb growth in future. 🙂

DB Dave

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