Understand special TCP/IP property “Keep Alive” in SQL Server 2005

Understand special TCP/IP property “Keep Alive” in SQL Server 2005

Rate This
  • Comments 25

When open TCP/IP properties by following SQL Server Configuration Manager -> SQL Server 2005 Network Configuration ->Protocols -> TCP/IP, you will notice there is new added property named “Keep Alive”, which is not available in SQL Server 2000.

This parameter controls how often TCP attempts to verify that an idle connection is still intact by sending a keep alive packet to its peer. If the remote system is still reachable and functioning, a acknowledge packet is sent back. Otherwise, the local TCP will keep sending “Keep Alive” packet in an interval of KeepAliveInterval for TcpMaxDataRetransmissions times. If no acknowledge packet is received during this period, the local TCP will reset the connection. For every SQL Server TCP connections, Keep Alive is 30,000 millisecond by default and KeepAliveInterval is hard-coded 1,000 millisecond. TcpMaxDataRetransmissions is 5 by default, configurable for entire machine through HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters. As an example, under default configuration, SQL Server can detect a “orphaned” connection in about 35 seconds. Orphaned connections are often caused by remote system reset, hardware/power failure or network outages. In case where the remote process is shutdown or killed, TCP reset is usually send out by system TCP/IP stack and the connection will be closed as soon as the reset packet is received. The detailed description about TCP keep-alives is in IETF RFC 1122.

In Windows, as well as many other operating systems, TCP/IP Keep-Alive is not enabled by default. By enabling this, SQL Server can, in a timely manner, detect “orphaned connection” and free up valuable resource associated with each connection, including its session context, locks, kernel TCP buffers and etc., which sometime can become very expensive for a SQL Server running heavy transactions. The major drawbacks, among many others, are (1) Keep-Alive consumes bandwidth on a perfect idle connection; (2) It causes good connection to break during transient network failures. So configuring the keep-alive values too small is not recommended.

The following KB about orphaned connection/session for SQL Server 2000 shares valuable insight on how to configure Keep-Alive for named pipe connections.



Do you know that you can post question w.r.t SQL Server data access, connectivty issues at http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/ShowForum.aspx?ForumID=87&SiteID=1 ?


Nan Tu
Software Design Engineer, SQL Server Protocols

Disclaimer: This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights

Leave a Comment
  • Please add 1 and 2 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • We are running automated tests that intentionally drop all the connections to the database and make them again.  If the tests run quickly, we are disconnecting and connecting very frequently.  We notice that after the connection is closed (this is through the JDBC driver, but I'm not sure that matters), the connection port stays open in a wait state for several minutes.  If the number gets too high (about 4000), the range of ports is used up, and the tests start to fail.

    Is there a way to have the TCP/IP port be released on the client immediately, or at least sooner?  Is there a way to specify a large range of ports?

    By change the keep alive setting, do you think the TCP/IP port would close sooner?
  • Take a look at this article, it explains the issue pretty well:

    328476 Description of TCP/IP settings that you may have to adjust when SQL Server connection pooling is disabled

    KeepAlive does not help.
  • Yes.  I found that KB article after posting here.  Thanks.
  • We tried this feature with no success - neither the standard properties nor slightly changed properties worked.

    We tested like this:
    SQL Server 2005 - ADO.NET Client
    The client established an explicit lock on one row at one db. Afterwards we disconnected the client by pulling out the network-cable. We waited about 35 sec for the sessios to close - but nothing happend; we waited another minute but nothing changed. The command line "netstat" told us that the connections are alive ... so what went wrong? Did we miss something? btw we  installed the sp1 before all tests!
  • Did you restarted server after change the setting?
    Can you ping the server after you unplug the network cable?
    The ultimate way to monitor if the keepalive is working is to get a netmon trace. You should be able to see the keepalive request and response on a idle connection or only keepalive request on a broken connection.
  • Yes, we did "serveral* restarts to ensure everything is loaded correctly.
    Of course we can't ping the server - the cable is unplugged!

    We will test the keep-alive-packages with netmon. I'll post my results!

  • Ok, we testet if acknowledge-keep-alive-packages were sent.
    The answer is: NO

    The server behaves like the client computer is online. It sends packages to the client with no responds, but did not disconnect the session.

    So, what could be the problem source? A missing service? Misconfiguration of the TCP protocol?  Something else?


    Meanwhile: thanks fot the assistance!
  • "It sends packages to the client with no responds, "

    [nantu]This looks correct behavior if you unplug the calbe.

    "but did not disconnect the session. "
    [nantu] can you see if the session is still alive by following query,

    "select session_id from sys.dm_exec_connections" to see the the session is closed.

    Otherwise, what is your OS version, is it xpsp2 or w2k3sp1?

    Do you have any third party antivirus software? If so, can you try without them.
  • yes, the connections are still alive but no keep-alive packages are send to the client computers.
    Currently my test server is on a xpsp2 computer with EZ Antivirus installed. Hopefully i get an w2k3sp1 server within the next two days.
    Now I'll try to disable the antivirus software and post the results
  • ok, disabling the antivirus software was no solution. no different behaviour.
  • some other ideas?
  • Transakcyjność zgodna z założeniami wyrażonymi w popularnym akronimie ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) w warunkach współbieżności i konkurencyjności o zasoby wymaga od silnika bazodanowego odpowiedniej obsługi blokad zasobó

  • Hi,

    The article mentions that the tcp/ip keep-alive is NOT on by default on windows OS, but sql server uses it.  Is there a way to turn off tcp/ip keep-alive for SQL Server 2005?  Was tcp/ip keep-alive on or off for sql server 2000?


  • When does the sql server issue the keepalive? Is it when it just finishes answering a query?


Page 1 of 2 (25 items) 12