“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change”

Logic for Expiring Subscriptions in Transactional Replication.

Posted by database-wiki on April 11, 2016

A subscription is marked as INACTIVE or EXPIRED when it has not synchronized successfully within the TRANSACTION RETENTION period. In our case, this period is 36 hours. This means that if a subscriber has not received transactions for a 36 hour period, it will be marked as INACTIVE by the “Distribution clean up” SQL Agent job. The logic that goes into marking a subscription as inactive evaluates the last distributed transaction for the given distribution agent. It gets this information from the distribution_history table in the distribution database. It then finds the next greatest transaction, and if that transaction has an entry_time older than the TRANSACTION RETENTION period, the subscription is marked inactive.

You can check this logic at any time to determine if a subscription is going to expire. We did this on the phone using the actual text from a replication stored procedure called sp_MSsubscription_cleanup. Here is an example on how you might check:

select s.agent_id as agent_id,

s.publisher_database_id as publisher_database_id,

min(s.subscription_seqno) as subscription_seqno,

isnull(h.xact_seqno, 0x0) as xact_seqno

from MSsubscriptions s

left join (MSdistribution_history h with (REPEATABLEREAD)

join (select agent_id,

max(timestamp) as timestamp

from MSdistribution_history with (REPEATABLEREAD)

group by agent_id) as h2

on h.agent_id = h2.agent_id

and h.timestamp = h2.timestamp)

on s.agent_id = h.agent_id

where s.status = 2

and s.subscriber_id >= 0

group by s.agent_id,


isnull(h.xact_seqno, 0x0)

This query returns 4 columns and a row for each distribution agent. You can find the agent names in the MSDistribution_Agents table. 

Copy the value from the xact_seqno column as this is the last transaction that has been distributed. Use it in the following query as a static value for the variable @DerivedXactSeqno:

declare @DerivedXactSeqno varbinary(100) = <xact_seqno>

declare @DerivedPubDBID int = 24

declare @DerivedAgentID int = 97

declare @max_time datetime

select @max_time = dateadd(hour, 6, getdate())

select top 1 entry_time, *

from MSrepl_transactions t,

MSrepl_commands c,

MSsubscriptions sss

where sss.agent_id = @DerivedAgentID

and t.publisher_database_id = @DerivedPubDBID

and c.publisher_database_id = @DerivedPubDBID

and c.xact_seqno = t.xact_seqno

— filter out snapshot transactions not for this subscription

— because they do not represent significant data changes

and ((c.type & 0x80000000) <> 0x80000000

or (c.xact_seqno >= sss.subscription_seqno

and c.xact_seqno <= sss.ss_cplt_seqno))

— filter out non-subscription articles for independent agents

and c.article_id = sss.article_id

— history xact_seqno can be cleaned up

and t.xact_seqno > isnull( @derivedxactseqno, 0x0 )

and c.xact_seqno > isnull( @derivedxactseqno, 0x0 )

order by t.xact_seqno asc–), @max_time)

–select @max_time

select dateadd(hour, 36, getdate())

If the Entry_Time returned by the query is more recent than the retention period then the subscription will NOT be marked INACTIVE the next time that the “Distribution clean up” job runs.

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