SQL: Tracing a SQL Server Deadlock


Tracing a SQL Server Deadlock

(Performance Issues)


A common issue with SQL Server is deadlocks. A deadlock occurs when two or more processes are waiting on the same resource and each process is waiting on the other process to complete before moving forward. When this situation occurs and there is no way for these processes to resolve the conflict, SQL Server will choose one of processes as the deadlock victim and rollback that process, so the other process or processes can move forward.

By default when this occurs, your application may see or handle the error, but there is nothing that is captured in the SQL Server Error Log or the Windows Event Log to let you know this occurred. The error message that SQL Server sends back to the client is similar to the following:

Msg 1205, Level 13, State 51, Line 3
Transaction (Process ID xx) was deadlocked on {xxx} resources with another process 
and has been chosen as the deadlock victim. Rerun the transaction. 

In this tutorial we cover what steps you can take to capture deadlock information and some steps you can take to resolve the problem.


Deadlock information can be captured in the SQL Server Error Log or by using Profiler / Server Side Trace.

Trace Flags

If you want to capture this information in the SQL Server Error Log you need to enable one or both of these trace flags.

  • 1204 – this provides information about the nodes involved in the deadlock
  • 1222 – returns deadlock information in an XML format

You can turn on each of these separately or turn them on together.

To turn these on you can issue the following commands in a query window or you can add these as startup parameters. If these are turned on from a query window, the next time SQL Server starts these trace flags will not be active, so if you always want to capture this data the startup parameters is the best option.

DBCC TRACEON (1204, -1)
DBCC TRACEON (1222, -1)

Here is sample output for each of the trace flags.

Trace Flag 1222 Output

Trace Flag 1204 Output


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