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Don Burleson Blog 







select for update skip locked tips

Oracle Database Tips by Donald BurlesonApril 7, 2015

Question: What does the 11g "skip locked" do in a select for update statement?

Answer: The "select for update" statement has always been problematic for large updates because it the default is to wait for locks and using "select for update" other tasks can abort waiting on access with the ORA-300036 error:

ORA-30006: resource busy; acquire with WAIT timeout expired

In other cases using "select for update" with the "nowait" clause you your own update may abort with the ORA-00054 error:

ORA-00054 resource busy and NOWAIT specified

Even worse, if a select for update task aborts, a zombie process may hold the row locks long term, requiring DBA intervention.

Before the 11g "skip locked" directive, long-running update transactions will either re-select a row before updating it to ensure that it has not changed since the last read, or add a date-time stamp column to the table to see if it had been updated since the transaction began.

Starting in 11g, using select for update with the skip locked directive will tell the update to skip-over any rows that are already locked. This is useful in high DML environments because it removes the locking and concurrency issues, but data cohesion will become an issue.

For example, assume that a select for update requests 1,000 rows and 200 are already locked by other transactions that are updating the credit column:

for update skipped locked;

As we see, those 200 rows that were being updated may have experienced a change to credit='BAD', making our update invalid, and causing logical data corruption.

Note: In some cases you may need to increase the value of a table's initrans values to allow for more locking buckets:

alter table customer move initrans 200;

In sum, the select for update skipped locked is useful in high concurrency environments to prevent locking errors, but you run the risk of logical corruption where a changed value is dependent upon another column value within the row. In general, the re-read strategy is better, where you re-read each row before update in to ensure that it did not change since the initial read.




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