Registrations are now open. Join us today!
There is still a lot of work to do on the wiki yet! More information about editing can be found here.
Already have an account?

Microsoft KB Archive/171224

From BetaArchive Wiki

Article ID: 171224

Article Last Modified on 10/28/2003


  • Microsoft SQL Server 6.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q171224


The Transact-SQL KILL command is used to abruptly end a SQL Server process. Each process is often called a System Process ID (spid). The SQL Enterprise Manager Kill Process button under Current Activity merely sends a Transact-SQL KILL command to the server, so the server-side KILL mechanism is the same in this case.

A spid may respond to the KILL command immediately, or after a delay, or not at all. A delayed or non-responsive KILL command can be normal under some conditions. This article discusses how the KILL command works, what these delayed or non-response conditions are, and how to identify them.

'NOTE:' This article discusses a DBCC command (DBCC PSS) that is unsupported, and may cause unexpected behavior. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from the incorrect use of this DBCC command. Use this DBCC command at your own risk. This DBCC command may not be available in future versions of SQL Server. For a list of the supported DBCC commands, see the "DBCC" topic in the Transact-SQL Reference section of SQL Server Books Online.


Each database connection forms a row in sysprocesses, sometimes called a spid or System Process ID. In SQL Server terminology, each connection is also called a "process," but this does not imply a separate process context in the usual sense. In SQL Server 6.0 and 6.5, each process is roughly analogous to and serviced by a separate operating system thread. Each database connection also consists of server data structures that keep track of process status, transaction state, locks held, and so on. One of these structures is called the Process Status Structure (PSS), of which there is one per connection. The server scans the list of PSSs to materialize the sysprocesses virtual table. The CPU and physical_io columns from sysprocesses are derived from the equivalent values in each PSS.

The Transact-SQL KILL command posts a "kill yourself" message to the spid's Process Slot Structure. It appears there as a status bit, which the spid periodically interrogates. If the spid is executing a code path that does not interrogate the PSS status field, the KILL is not honored. Some known conditions where this situation can occur are given below. Most of these are considered expected behavior, and are not considered bugs.

Spid Is Waiting on a Network I/O

If the client does not fetch all result rows, the server will eventually be forced to wait when writing to the client. This is seen as a sysprocesses.waittype of 0x0800. While waiting on the network, no SQL Server code is being run that can interrogate the PSS and detect a KILL command. If the spid holds locks prior to waiting on the network I/O, it may block other processes.

If the network connection times out or is manually canceled, the SQL thread waiting on the network I/O will take an error return, thus being freed up to scan its PSS and respond to a KILL. You can manually close a named pipes connection with the NET SESSION or NET FILES command, or equivalent Server Manager command. Other IPC sessions such as TCP/IP and SPX/IPX cannot be manually closed, and the only option in this case is adjusting the session timeout for the particular IPC to a shorter value. For more information, see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

137983 : How to Troubleshoot Orphaned Connections in SQL Server

The Spid Is Rolling Back (Also Called Being "in Backout")

If the transaction aborts for any reason, it must roll back. If it is a long-running transaction, it may take as long to roll back as to apply the transaction. This includes long-running implicit transactions such as single SELECT INTO, DELETE, or UPDATE statements. While it is rolling back it cannot be killed; otherwise, the transactional changes would not be backed out consistently.

The unkillable rollback scenario can often be identified by observing the sp_who output, which may indicate the ROLLBACK command. On SQL Server version 6.5 Service Pack 2 or later, a ROLLBACK status has been added to sysprocesses.status, which will also appear in sp_who output or the SQL Enterprise Manager "current activity" screen. However, the most reliable way to get this information is to inspect the DBCC PSS of the blocking SPID in question, and observing the pstat value. For example:

dbcc traceon(3604) /* Return subsequent DBCC output to the client rather
                      than to the errorlog. */ 
DBCC PSS (suid, spid, 0) /* Where suid is from above, and spid is the
                           unkillable SPID number. */ 

The first line of returned information will contain the pstat value.

For example, it may be something like the following:

pstat=0x4000, 0x800, 0x100, 0x1

Meaning of pstat bits:

0x4000 -- Delay KILL and ATTENTION signals if inside a critical section
0x2000 -- Process is being killed
0x800  -- Process is in backout, thus cannot be chosen as deadlock victim
0x400  -- Process has received an ATTENTION signal, and has responded by
          raising an internal exception
0x100  -- Process in the middle of a single statement transaction
0x80   -- Process is involved in multi-database transaction
0x8    -- Process is currently executing a trigger
0x2    -- Process has received KILL command
0x1    -- Process has received an ATTENTION signal

The pstat value above would be a typical situation if a long-running data modification was canceled (for example, by clicking the Cancel Query button on a GUI application), and then the SPID was found (for a time) to block users, yet be unkillable. This situation is normal; the transaction must be backed out. It can be identified by the bits, as noted above.

Spid 1 Has a Status of 0000 (Running Recovery)

When starting (or restarting) SQL Server, each database must complete startup recovery before it can be used. This is seen as the first spid in sp_who having a status of 0000. It cannot be killed, and recovery should be allowed to run to completion without restarting the server. Only user spids can be killed, not system spids such as lazywriter, checkpoint, RA Manager, and so on. You also cannot kill your own spid. You can find which is your spid by doing SELECT @@SPID.

Server Has Intentionally Delayed Honoring KILL

In a few situations, the server intentionally defers acting on a KILL command or ATTENTION signal (a query cancellation request). An example of this is while in a critical section. These intervals are usually brief. This situation can be seen as a pstat value of 0x4000.

Code Path Does Not Check for KILL

If you have eliminated each of the above scenarios, it is possible that the current code path simply is not checking for KILL. For example, before SQL Server version 6.5 Service Pack 3, DBCC CHECKDB did not reliably respond to KILL because certain code paths did not check it. If all of the above situations have been excluded (that is, the user process is not waiting on I/O and not in rollback, the database is not in recovery, and SQL Server is not intentionally deferring KILL) yet KILL is not being honored, it may be possible to enhance the server so that KILL works. To make this determination, each case must be individually examined by your primary support provider.

Other Information

The fact that the message "Process id 10 killed by Hostname JOE" is written to the errorlog does not confirm the KILL has actually taken place. This message is written immediately following making the kill request, but does not signify that the KILL has been honored.

Additional query words: terminate terminated T-SQL

Keywords: kbinfo kbusage KB171224