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What is Lock Escalation


Escalation means the upgrading of locks. This often occurs as the core concept in the database management systems (DBMS) which is used to maintain this balance between both performance and data integrity. Fundamentally, the process of combining several row locks to a partition or the whole table is known as lock escalation. This is usually done by the system to recover resources that have been taken up by a large number of fine-grained locks. The process of changing a lock to a more restricted mode is known as lock escalation. This is primarily observed in database systems. In order to conduct an update, a query may have a resource locked for "shared" and elevate it to "exclusive".

What is Lock Escalation

Understanding Database Locking Mechanisms

Types of Locks

In the data base systems locking is one of the techniques used to minimize data integrity during simultaneous access. The primary types of locks include:

Shared Locks (S-Locks): They meet read operation needs. This feature allows one or more transactions to grasp shared locks on the same data without the actual conflict destruction.

Exclusive Locks (X-Locks): It stores data or writes. If a transaction displays an exclusive lock on the data, no other transaction can retrieve or write to that data.

Intent Locks (I-Locks): This command is used to demonstrate that the lock obtention is the plan fulfilled with more atomicity of the data. Such as IS-Lock means the transaction will seek multiple rows to be shared locked on an individual table.

How Locking Works in Databases

When a transaction requests for some data, an access request causes the DBMS to place a lock on the data. The reason for this is to prevent any changes to the state that may have occurred during the course of the transaction. DBMS uses the locks to make sure that data is accessible to the right place and is consistent in any moment of the time. On the contrary, the locking mechanic yields more complexity in management, which increases resource consumption and consequently exacerbates the decline in performance.

Definition of Lock Escalation

The concept of lock escalation involves an instance wherein the DBMS upgrades a number of fine-grained locks (e. g. rows level locks) into a single coarse-grain lock (e. g. table level). The main purpose of this upgrade is to reduce the number of locks being handled by the database system as excessive locks could result to system inefficiencies and poor execution times. This is done by the system in case of excessive complexion. A tower of locks classification allows the system to only to deal with a small number of locks, which in turn improves the performance of the entire system.

Triggers for Lock Escalation

Lock escalation is typically triggered under the following conditions:

Number of Locks Exceeds a Threshold: If the number of locks held by a transaction are beyond the certain value defined by the DBMS, this usually means that the transaction is too costly.

Memory Pressure: This happens because of the system holds so many locks and due to this, the memory of the system will be running out.

Performance Optimization: The DBMS might escalate the lock as well in advance that helps yield better performances. Escalation with the lock management overhead will get lower.

Thresholds and Settings: One of the things that make these DBMS different is their individual locking strategies and escalation settings. These thresholds are often customizable by the administrator which in return, they are configured to work according to the specific needs of an application. Such as in SQL Server, the defense escalation threshold as a default is 5000 locks. Nevertheless, the variation is confined by adjusting the settings and options.

Impact of the Lock Escalation on the Output

Pros and Cons

Lock escalation has both advantages and disadvantages:


  • Reduced Overhead: The system then coarsens these fine-grained locks into one single coarse-grained lock, reducing the overhead associated with managing the numerous locks.
  • Improved Performance: In given cases, escalation of locks can lead to better overall system performance as they streamline the lock controlling procedure.


  • Increased Contention: Fine-grained locking can lead to resource contention since there will be a larger number of processing tasks which may run into problems in working with the locked resource.
  • Reduced Concurrency: The total number of asynchronous operations conducted simultaneously with each other will decrease, having influence on the system's speed.


When several transactions are attempting to access the same resources in a high-concurrency setting, lock escalation can enhance a database's scalability and speed. Through this procedure, the database's throughput and response time may be improved, lock contention and deadlock likelihood can be reduced, and memory and CPU utilization can be reduced.

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