ADO.NET application connecting to a mirrored SQL Server Database may timeout long before the actual connection timeout elapses, sometimes within milliseconds

Recently we had few cases, where .NET Applications, connecting to a mirrored SQL Server Database, using ADO.NET SQLClient provider, in a mirrored SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008 instance scenario, may intermittently fail with the following error message:

System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException: Timeout expired. The timeout period elapsed prior to completion of the operation or the server is not responding.

at System.Data.ProviderBase.DbConnectionPool.GetConnection(DbConnection owningObject)

at System.Data.ProviderBase.DbConnectionFactory.GetConnection(DbConnection owningConnection)

at System.Data.ProviderBase.DbConnectionPool.GetConnection(DbConnection owningObject)

at System.Data.ProviderBase.DbConnectionFactory.GetConnection(DbConnection owningConnection)

at System.Data.ProviderBase.DbConnectionClosed.OpenConnection(DbConnection outerConnection, DbConnectionFactory connectionFactory)

at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection.Open()

A more detail call stack, as we reproduced the issue, will look like the following stack:

Timeout expired.  The timeout period elapsed prior to completion of the operation or the server is not responding.

   at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlInternalConnection.OnError(SqlException exception, Boolean breakConnection)

   at System.Data.SqlClient.TdsParser.ThrowExceptionAndWarning()

   at System.Data.SqlClient.TdsParserStateObject.ReadSniError(TdsParserStateObject stateObj, UInt32 error)

   at System.Data.SqlClient.TdsParserStateObject.ReadSni(DbAsyncResult asyncResult, TdsParserStateObject stateObj)

   at System.Data.SqlClient.TdsParserStateObject.ReadNetworkPacket()

   at System.Data.SqlClient.TdsParser.ConsumePreLoginHandshake(Boolean encrypt, Boolean trustServerCert, Boolean& marsCapable)

   at System.Data.SqlClient.TdsParser.Connect(ServerInfo serverInfo, SqlInternalConnectionTds connHandler, Boolean ignoreSniOpenTimeout, Int64 timerExpire, Boolean encrypt, Boolean trustServerCert, Bo

olean integratedSecurity)

   at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlInternalConnectionTds.AttemptOneLogin(ServerInfo serverInfo, String newPassword, Boolean ignoreSniOpenTimeout, TimeoutTimer timeout, SqlConnection owningObject)

   at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlInternalConnectionTds.LoginWithFailover(Boolean useFailoverHost, ServerInfo primaryServerInfo, String failoverHost, String newPassword, Boolean redirectedUserInstance, S

qlConnection owningObject, SqlConnectionString connectionOptions, TimeoutTimer timeout)

What make this timeout interesting is that the applications experience the connection timeout long before the actual default connection timeout value (15s), sometimes in milliseconds.

The issue happens, because, SQLClient uses the connection retry algorithm (for TCP/IP Connections), and sets the initial connection timeout value as 15*0.08~1200ms and first tries to connect to the principal SQL server and if fails, then, tries to connect to mirrored SQL Server (the fact that the database is mirrored, may come from the connection string or SQLClient may collect this information, the first time it connects to the database). If this connection attempt also fails due to timeout (because of slow response from SQL Server or due to network delays), the SQLClient incorrectly sets the connection to doomed state, giving the connection timeout exception, without further connection retry attempt to principal.

Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the current release of ADO.NET. This issue will be fixed in ADO.NET version, ships with Visual Studio 2011.

In the meantime, we request to use the following workarounds:

1. Increase the connection string timeout to 150 sec. This will give the first attempt enough time to connect( 150* .08=12 sec)

2. Add MinPool Size=20 in the connection string. This will always maintain a minimum of 20 connections in the pool and there will be less chances of creating new connection, thus reducing the chance of this error.

3. Improve the network performance. Update your NIC drivers to the latest firmware version. We have seen network latency when your NIC card is not compatible with certain Scalable Networking Pack settings. If you are on Windows Vista SP1 or above you may also consider disabling Receive Window Auto-Tuning. If you have NIC teaming enabled, disabling it would be a good option.


Author : Meer(MSFT), SQL Developer Escalation Services , Microsoft

Posted by : Enamul(MSFT), SQL Developer Technical Lead , Microsoft

Comments (2)
  1. Alvin says:

    Your content is awesome

    Techutz | A world Class Experts Community For the Technology

  2. Kirk Davis says:

    I'm trying to resolve the dreaded time-out expired issue on a similar environment (ASP.Net that connects to mirrored SQL Server 2008 (databases running in 2005 compatibility mode) via ADO.Net SqlClient.

    Can anyone confirm that (a) the issue was fixed in the dll that ships with Visual Studio 2012 (since there is no "Visual Studio 2011", I'm hoping this is what the authors meant"?), and also, what version of the dll is that?

    I have 4.0.30319.18047 on my dev machine (running VS2012), and 4.0.3019.237 on the production server.

    Thanks very much for this post, hopefully it will help resolve our issue.

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