I have below two queries on Production:

Query # 1: Script that deletes older historical data from core table "Table1" based on "Date" column

There are ~20 tables that point to "Table1" by foreign key with cascade rule, so when you delete from "Table1", data is deleted from ~20 other tables, too

Script deletes data in batches 50 rows at a time with 1 second interval between batches
Script does NOT cause Exclusive locks to escalate to table-level lock, when batch is only 50 rows; it only places row/page level (X) locks

Query # 2: Production Application that pulls data from "Table1", "Table2", "Table3" and some other tables

This is heavy read query, that places Shared locks on tables. It does not do any insert/update/delete


Sometimes, deadlock occurs when Query # 2 (Prod app) reads data, and I simultaneously run Query # 1 (script deleting older data) in SSMS. Query # 2 is always a victim, as I understand it is because it is NOT doing any changes to transaction log, while Query # 1 does

Trying to resolve this, I've added set deadlock_priority -10 to Query # 1, hoping that it will make Query # 1 victim in any possible deadlocks

First it seemed it worked, Query # 1 became victim in deadlock situations, throwing error 1205 when deleting some of the batches.

BUT - recently I discovered that sometimes Query # 2 still becomes a victim


How is this possible that Query # 2 sometimes becomes a victim even after I've set deadlock_priority -10 for Query # 1 ?

Is there a way to fix it and make sure Query # 1 will be the victim in 100 % cases ?

Update: added graph below



  • Can you include the deadlock graph XML from when a deadlock occurs to provide more information? As @Charlieface said, you might be better placed solving the deadlock if possible than trying to juggle deadlock priorities.
    – HandyD
    Mar 25, 2021 at 3:38
  • @HandyD added graph XML. I wanted to avoid rewriting parts of the Query # 2 (Prod app), and solve the issue by optimizing my script for deleting data and lowering deadlock priority... But you guys are right, probably have no choice and need go optimizing Query # 2... Let me know if you have any comments on the graph itself Mar 25, 2021 at 12:28
  • When the read query is incorrectly chosen as the victim, have you double checked that the deadlock XML shows the delete query has a lower priority number than the read query? Mar 26, 2021 at 20:55
  • @JoshDarnell too bad but the script has so many comments in the beginning (see added picture in the question), so the deadlock XML does not show script fully (it shows only top part) and you can't see set deadlock_priority -10 statement below. But it is there :) Can't reproduce deadlock without comments in script, because don't want to disrupt production Mar 29, 2021 at 12:06

1 Answer 1


You could attempt to solve the issue by changing the transaction isolation level. Specifically enabling Snapshot isolation and setting the Read Committed Snapshot so that reads and writes won't interfere with each other. You could also just update the production query to use snapshot isolation without updating the default database isolation level.

Be careful though and thoroughly test this because it will increase the traffic on tempdb as row snapshots are written. Setting Read Committed Snapshot is also a default behavior change across the whole database which needs regression testing to verify there are no unexpected side effects.

A better explanation on this option is available from Microsoft here: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/framework/data/adonet/sql/snapshot-isolation-in-sql-server

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