In our application we're using TransactionScope's. We're aiming to not use the MSDTC service because it's a lot slower than lightweight transactions.

using (var transactionScope = new TransactionScope())

While connected to the test database we need no MSDTC but the exact same code, executed on the same machine, escalates to use MSDTC when connected to the production or development database.

The development database is not clustered and isn't a named instance.

All are SQL Server 2008 (10.50.2500) and the connection strings are exactly the same except for the hostnames.

It seems there has to be some difference in the setup of the databases. Any ideas on what that could be?


The transaction was there to protect inserts in two different tables. I noticed that there was also two calls that resulted in two selects in there. There was no need for these to be in the transaction so I moved them outside of it. The need for MSDTC then disappeared in all three databases. Problem solved but without really knowing what caused it.

  • Does this happen when you have a single connection or more than one? If more than one, are they different connection strings?
    – Oded
    Mar 2, 2012 at 10:14
  • In this case there are multiple connections using the same connection string. I will have to test how single connection transactions behave.
    – Jonas Elfström
    Mar 2, 2012 at 10:20
  • Is the production server set to be backwards compatible with SQL Server 2005? If so, that might be the issue, as 2005 had a bug where it would escalate to distributed whenever more than one connection was part of the transaction.
    – Oded
    Mar 2, 2012 at 10:22
  • "Compability level: SQL Server 2008 (100)" for both.
    – Jonas Elfström
    Mar 2, 2012 at 10:26
  • Are you using MARS? msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms131686.aspx
    – RobS
    Mar 2, 2012 at 14:13

2 Answers 2


Here are some of the things you can try to get it to work:

  • Compare Enlist=false in your connection strings
  • Compare MultipleActiveResultSets=true in your connection strings
  • User instance databases appear to work differently for some reason - we couldn't get it to work consistently with them - use full databases all of the time
  • You can reuse the same connection (close/reopen), or use more than one connection in a TransactionScope, but you cannot use more than one connection at the same time. You CAN however keep a ThreadStatic connection and pass that around (or, as we did, use ThreadLocal<> in a db wrapper class) - this solved a concurrency problem for us in ASP.NET which was causing unnecessary escalation
  • Don't bother if your db < 2008 or if compatibility level < 100
  • When using connection strings, don't use the ConnectionString property of another connection to create your new connection - it may not be the same as the original, which will cause escalation
  • Keep your connections open only for as long as you need to, close them at your earliest opportunity.

Stuff I found useful:


In this case there are multiple connections using the same connection string

Irrelevant. Second connection = propagation to MSDTC. All you can do is not open multiple connections. Stick to ne connection and it will not propagate to MSDTC. Open a second one - same string, even if the first is closed - and it must propagate as it can not / does not reasign the conenction to the new one. That makes it 2 conenctions which is per definition a distributed transaction.

  • That was true for SQL Server 2005 but I've been told that SQL Server 2008 solved that problem. Unfortunately for us, it only works to one of three servers. Even though it only works on one of three server it proves your answer wrong. petermeinl.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/…
    – Jonas Elfström
    Mar 2, 2012 at 13:18
  • Well, it is the only i have so far and there are tons of similar answers around in google. I would love to be prooven wrongt here - makes conenction maangement a LOT easier.
    – TomTom
    Mar 2, 2012 at 13:37
  • I moved two selects outside of the transaction and only kept the two inserts (in separate connections). Now it works on all three database servers without any need for MSDTC.
    – Jonas Elfström
    Mar 2, 2012 at 14:09

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