I have a small (~3GB) database in Full recovery mode, with full backups at midnight and transaction log backups at noon.

Despite being a testing database with virtually no activity, the size of the log files (and transaction log backups) are growing exponentially:

Date Size
March 2: 200MB
March 3: 560MB
March 4: 963MB
March 5: 1.5GB
March 6: 2.5GB
March 7: 5.9GB

For comparison, the nigh-identical production version of the same database has transaction log backups (same schedule) under 100MB.

The autogrow is set to 10%, so each new VLF winds up 10% larger than the last, but it's a mystery to me why new VLFs are created several times a day at all! There are no open transactions, and when I checked DBCC LOGINFO last night, there were numerous large VLFs with status 0, so log backup is truncating fine. They were all status 2 this morning.

Doing periodic LOGINFO & LOGSPACE checks this morning, I saw the log expand to add a VLF, despite having virtually nothing in the last one:

loginfo increase

The previous size would have been ~6369MB, so that VLF had about 25/700MB in use.

Can something cause SQL Server to move onto a new VLF before the active one is remotely full?


Trace shows a 90 minute shrink and grow cycle

Action duration start end
Log File Auto Grow 1473000 2021-03-08 10:50:14.970 2021-03-08 10:50:16.443
Log File Auto Shrink 1000 2021-03-08 10:50:13.763 2021-03-08 10:50:13.763
Log File Auto Grow 1116000 2021-03-08 09:19:36.813 2021-03-08 09:19:37.930
Log File Auto Shrink 1000 2021-03-08 09:19:35.827 2021-03-08 09:19:35.827
Log File Auto Grow 1090000 2021-03-08 06:48:33.760 2021-03-08 06:48:34.850
Log File Auto Shrink 1000 2021-03-08 06:48:32.207 2021-03-08 06:48:32.207
Log File Auto Shrink 1000 2021-03-08 05:17:54.147 2021-03-08 05:17:54.147

1 Answer 1


Have you checked the error log ? Run select * from sys.databases & look at the log_reuse_wait_desc column. Run DBCC OPENTRAN and see if you have any open active transactions ?

Query the default trace and get the timings of when the file growths are happening https://www.mssqltips.com/sqlservertip/3445/using-the-sql-server-default-trace-to-audit-events/

  • log_reuse_wait_desc is LOG_BACKUP, which makes sense since all VLFs are full, and it's on full recovery mode. DBCC OPENTRAN shows nothing
    – Tim Nyborg
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 9:57
  • Are your transaction log backups succeeding ? Maybe time to run them more than once a day ? Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 9:59
  • They all succeed. Theres no reason to run them more frequently, because there's no activity, and they don't stop the exponential growth. The log hit 25GB last week before I shrank it.
    – Tim Nyborg
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 10:00
  • & what is in the SQL Server error log & the windows event logs ? Most common cause of log growth is an index rebuild job so worth double checking for that but right now that seems like a long shot. Try querying the default trace to see what time the file growths are happening & see if you can get a correlation mssqltips.com/sqlservertip/3445/… Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 10:06
  • Nothing in the SQL error log and the windows event log only has an occasional DNS blip. The maintenance routine only has a reorganize, not a rebuild. I'll have to look into the trace.
    – Tim Nyborg
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 10:16

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