Memory Error Entries in SQL Server 2000

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You're reviewing your SQL Server error logs and a series of words catch your eye...STOLEN, DIRTY, KEPT, WAITING. And those words are surrounded by a bunch of numbers. The sight is more than a little ominous, particularly if you've never seen it before. So what is it? Quite simply, it is the status of memory allocation after a memory exception. But finding the reason why your server decided to throw all of this information in the log can be a little tricky. Here are some ideas on why it happened.


You'll see these SQL error log entries on servers that have Address Windowing Extensions (AWE) enabled. Although there are a number of reasons for the appearance, a good number of them are because of logic issues inside SQL Server itself. Times when you could potentially see these output messages include when:

  • sqlmaint.exe is used with a Maintenance Plan (specifically when rebuilding indexes using the -RebldIdx switch)
  • Excessive outer joins are used in a query
  • Extreme number of tables, confusing the lazywriter process

Here is an example of these listings from a SQL Server 2000 error log.

SQL error log entries similar to DBCC MEMORYSTATUS output

When you see these entries in the error log, the first thing to do is to note the time and frequency. Next, check the scheduled jobs on the server to see if there is a correlation between when a job runs and when the entries appear. Finally, run a Profiler trace at the time you expect the error to occur (based on frequency in the error logs) to see if memory exceptions or hash warnings appear. The good news is that Microsoft is aware of these situations and have dealt with them through service packs and hotfixes.

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