I have inherited a system that sometimes exhibits extremely poor single record insert performance.

The table is something like 8 million rows, so is relatively large but not exceptionally so. The following simple insert took over 7 minutes and blocked the entire system up in the process:

   INSERT INTO dbo.Communication(comm_action,comm_channelid,...)  
   VALUES (N'Deskwork',11,...)

The overall database design is fairly poor. For example, although this particular table does have a Clustered Index, it has 34 other indexes as well despite being an OLTP system with heavy insert/update activity.

There are no triggers that I can see and the performance of inserts for the most part is reasonably good. Good being a relative term.

Could the number of indexes really account for such poor performance and is there any approach I could take to prove this before undertaking work.

Are there any other areas I could look into if the consensus is not the indexes being a problem?

The customer is very sensitive to changes, so I will need evidence before being able to make any changes.

I'm using SQL Sentry to highlight the blocking and the insert is the first block that shows up, followed by many others.

It's actually weirder than just there being another process blocking the inserter. I have a process (51) blocked by process 105. However, when I check what process 105 is about, there is no process 105.

I've repeated this several times, each time with a different process saying it's being blocked for a prolonged period of time, but the "blocker" not really existing. Does anyone know why sys.dm_exec_requests can say something is being blocked, but the same DMV say the blocker isn't really there?

What happens is, we get rows in dm_exec_requests with a blocking session id of, say 127. However, although there is a session in dm_exec_sessions, it says it's sleeping and there are no equivalent rows in the requests DMV.

I'm not clear on how a session can block something for 30 minutes despite seemingly not doing any requests?

For the blocked requests, in the case I had this morning it was waiting for a LCK_M_S. Any ideas?

  • 1
    Can you post table definition including clustered index? And tag with the version of the engine too (2008, 2012, 2014, ...) Feb 15, 2016 at 14:55

1 Answer 1


I suspect this isn't a case of "the insert took 7 minutes" but rather "the insert was blocked for over 6 minutes." When an insert normally runs fine and then suddenly takes a long time, it is likely there is another cause, and highly unlikely that SQL Server suddenly got overwhelmed by your large table with too many indexes.

I treat this in more detail here but, essentially, you need to examine the system while this query is running long. Identify the session_id (SPID) and check sys.dm_exec_requests for blocking_session_id, which I think is most likely the issue; after that, check wait_type and last_wait_type. Most of the time, for duration outliers like this, one of those columns is going to help you track down the reason.

Sometimes, they might not have an active query in sys.dm_exec_requests - as I explain in the comments below, this is possible if someone started a transaction, made some statements against a table, then walked away without committing. You can see what object(s) that session has locked even if they aren't actively running a query.

DECLARE @SPID INT = <blocking_session_id from your "hung" query>;

-- see the command they ran last (might be related, might not)

-- see what that session has locked
SELECT s.name, o.name
  FROM sys.dm_tran_session_transactions AS tst
  INNER JOIN sys.dm_tran_locks AS tl
  ON tst.transaction_id = tl.request_owner_id
  INNER JOIN sys.objects AS o
  ON tl.resource_associated_entity_id = o.[object_id]
  INNER JOIN sys.schemas AS s
  ON o.[schema_id] = s.[schema_id]
  WHERE tst.session_id = @SPID;
  • Did you check any of the transaction-related DMVs? Did you check what that session did last using inputbuffer? I can do BEGIN TRANSACTION; UPDATE table; then go to lunch. That's blocking for > 30 minutes without actively performing requests. Feb 16, 2016 at 12:02
  • Gotcha - understand where you're coming from now. I'm just waiting for it to happen again at which point I'll try and extract the last command. Thanks for your help with this
    – user139315
    Feb 16, 2016 at 12:58
  • Hi Aaron - you were correct. The issue wasn't that the inserts were taking to long. We appear to have a bug in vendor software that is leaving a transaction open and never rolling back or committing. This was blocking Inserts/Updates in other sessions Thanks for the assist
    – user139315
    Feb 29, 2016 at 15:51

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