I found that the following query shows how many session context variables was set:

SELECT cache_address
FROM   sys.dm_os_memory_cache_counters

But now I would like to know which key-value pairs of SESSION_CONTEXT() was set -- if any.

After doing extensive research on microsoft sites I didn't found anything related.

Thanks in advance.

1 Answer 1


I've checked the definition of many context-related system views, functions, and stored procedures, and cannot locate any further details covering session context variables.

For instance, the sys.dm_os_memory_cache_counters dynamic management view referenced in your question has the following definition:

CREATE VIEW sys.dm_os_memory_cache_counters AS
    SELECT *

The definition of SYSMEMORYCACHECOUNTERS system table is not visible directly, even from the dedicated administrator connection, or DAC, which is therefore a dead-end.

I used this query to look for context-related system objects:

;WITH types AS
    SELECT v.xType
        , v.TypeDescription
          ('AF', 'Aggregate function (CLR)')
        , ('C', 'CHECK constraint')
        , ('D', 'Default or DEFAULT constraint')
        , ('F', 'FOREIGN KEY constraint')
        , ('L', 'Log')
        , ('FN', 'Scalar function')
        , ('FS', 'Assembly (CLR) scalar-function')
        , ('FT', 'Assembly (CLR) table-valued function')
        , ('IF', 'In-lined table-function')
        , ('IT', 'Internal table')
        , ('P', 'Stored procedure')
        , ('PC', 'Assembly (CLR) stored-procedure')
        , ('PK', 'PRIMARY KEY constraint (type is K)')
        , ('RF', 'Replication filter stored procedure')
        , ('S', 'System table')
        , ('SN', 'Synonym')
        , ('SQ', 'Service queue')
        , ('TA', 'Assembly (CLR) DML trigger')
        , ('TF', 'Table function')
        , ('TR', 'SQL DML Trigger')
        , ('TT', 'Table type')
        , ('U', 'User table')
        , ('UQ', 'UNIQUE constraint (type is K)')
        , ('V', 'View')
        , ('X', 'Extended stored procedure')
, sc AS
    SELECT so.id
        , ColumnList = STUFF(((SELECT ', ' + sc.name FROM sys.syscolumns sc WHERE sc.id = so.id FOR XML PATH(''))), 1, 2, '')
    FROM sys.sysobjects so
SELECT t.TypeDescription
    , so.name
    --, sc.ColumnList
FROM sys.sysobjects so
    LEFT JOIN sc ON so.id = sc.id
    LEFT JOIN types t ON so.xtype = t.xType
WHERE so.name LIKE '%context%'
    OR sc.ColumnList LIKE '%context%'
ORDER BY t.TypeDescription
    , so.name;

in SQL Server 2016, the result of the query is:

║ Extended stored procedure ║        sp_reset_session_context        ║
║ Extended stored procedure ║ sp_set_session_context                 ║
║ Extended stored procedure ║ sp_try_set_session_context             ║
║ In-lined table-function   ║ dm_exec_cursors                        ║
║ In-lined table-function   ║ fn_dblog                               ║
║ In-lined table-function   ║ fn_dblog_xtp                           ║
║ In-lined table-function   ║ fn_dump_dblog                          ║
║ In-lined table-function   ║ fn_dump_dblog_xtp                      ║
║ Internal table            ║ plan_persist_context_settings          ║
║ Internal table            ║ plan_persist_query                     ║
║ Stored procedure          ║ sp_MSadd_repl_error                    ║
║ Stored procedure          ║ sp_MSsetcontext_bypasswholeddleventbit ║
║ Stored procedure          ║ sp_MSsetcontext_replagent              ║
║ Stored procedure          ║ sp_sqlagent_verify_database_context    ║
║ View                      ║ dm_db_task_space_usage                 ║
║ View                      ║ dm_exec_query_stats                    ║
║ View                      ║ dm_exec_requests                       ║
║ View                      ║ dm_exec_sessions                       ║
║ View                      ║ dm_filestream_file_io_handles          ║
║ View                      ║ dm_filestream_file_io_requests         ║
║ View                      ║ dm_filestream_non_transacted_handles   ║
║ View                      ║ dm_os_memory_cache_entries             ║
║ View                      ║ dm_os_schedulers                       ║
║ View                      ║ dm_os_tasks                            ║
║ View                      ║ dm_os_threads                          ║
║ View                      ║ dm_os_waiting_tasks                    ║
║ View                      ║ dm_os_workers                          ║
║ View                      ║ dm_tran_locks                          ║
║ View                      ║ query_context_settings                 ║
║ View                      ║ query_store_query                      ║
║ View                      ║ sysprocesses                           ║
  • Extended stored procedures are implemented in various SQL Server DLLs, and are not easily viewable without reverse-engineering; I've considered them to be black boxes for the purpose of this question.

  • sys.dm_exec_cursors, while pretty clearly not directly related to the "context" we're interested in, has the following definition:

    CREATE FUNCTION sys.dm_exec_cursors (@spid int)
    RETURNS table
        FROM OpenRowSet(TABLE DM_EXEC_CURSORS, @spid)

    As you can see above, this function is really just a wrapper around the system-table DM_EXEC_CURSORS; the definition of system tables like this one are again implemented inside the SQL Server engine and not easily inspected.

    The other in-lined table-functions listed in the output of the query above all utilize the same OpenRowSet(TABLE ...) functionality.

  • The sys.sp_MSsetcontext_bypasswholeddleventbit looks intriguing:

    create procedure sys.sp_MSsetcontext_bypasswholeddleventbit @onoff bit -- 1 to turn on
        declare @cur_context varbinary(128)
        declare @cur_context_first_byte binary(1)
        declare @bitmask tinyint
        declare @retcode int
        ** Security Check
        EXEC @retcode = sys.sp_MSreplcheck_subscribe_withddladmin
        IF @@ERROR <> 0 or @retcode <> 0
            return (1)
        -- bit to set: snapshot=1, logreader=2, distrib=4, merge=8, 
        -- replication_agent=16, merge_identityrange_alterconstraint=32
        -- merge_bypasswholeddleventbit=64
        if @onoff=1
            set @bitmask=64
            set @bitmask=255-64
        -- get the current context_info. remember we only want to modify a bit without changing the rest of the info
        select @cur_context = isnull(context_info(),0x00)
        -- get the first byte out. the replication agent flags are set in the first byte.
        select @cur_context_first_byte = substring(@cur_context, 1, 1)
        -- set the appropriate bit in this one byte (leaving other bits unchanged).
        if @onoff=1
            select @cur_context_first_byte = (convert(tinyint,@cur_context_first_byte) | @bitmask)
            select @cur_context_first_byte = (convert(tinyint,@cur_context_first_byte) & @bitmask)
        -- replace the first byte of the 128 byte binary variable, so that now it has the appropriate bit set.
        select @cur_context = convert(varbinary(128),stuff (@cur_context, 1, 1, @cur_context_first_byte))
        -- set the context_info again with the new binary(128) value.
        set context_info @cur_context
        if @@error <> 0
            return 1
        return 0

    However, it only uses SET CONTEXT_INFO and CONTEXT_INFO() to inspect and modify the context info. No luck here.

  • Perhaps sys.query_context_settings contains some gold? Nope:

    CREATE VIEW sys.query_context_settings AS
            CONVERT(varbinary(8), set_options) AS 'set_options',
            CONVERT(varbinary(2), status) AS 'status',
            CONVERT(varbinary(1), status2) AS 'is_contained'
        FROM (
            SELECT * FROM sys.plan_persist_context_settings
            UNION ALL
        ) AS ContextSettings

I also checked the definitions of SQL modules, such as stored procedures, functions, etc, with this query:

SELECT so.name
    , asm.definition
FROM sys.all_sql_modules asm
    INNER JOIN sys.sysobjects so ON asm.object_id = so.id
WHERE asm.definition LIKE '%context%'
ORDER BY so.name;

None of the items listed in that query contain anything relevant, either.

In short, I could find nothing related to session context. I expect this is by design since the session context could easily be used to store sensitive data for the duration of a session.


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